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Dedicated to "Mom" Dr. Anne Putnam Burns
Submitted by Caurie
by Caurie Anne Putnam
My husband Arthur and I had been looking forward to our first trip to Hawaii in October 1999 with great anticipation. Arthur-a dentist-would be attending the first American Dental Association National Convention in Hawaii, and I would be his guest. Although we were going with "business" on the agenda, we were so excited to be going at all! We talked about the trip for months before its arrival and everyone around us shared in our excitement.
When departure day finally came, Arthur's mom Anne drove us to the airport in Buffalo, New York. She had been to Hawaii twice before and adored it. She likened it to heaven and her enthusiasm for the islands was part of the reason we were so excited to be going.
During the drive to the airport Anne was coughing viciously, but attributed it to too many sleepless nights doing what she loved-delivering babies as an obstetrician. Arthur told her, "Just get your cough checked out Mom," and she promised she would. Anne gave us kisses goodbye and we left the cold of Buffalo for our dream vacation in Hawaii.
For a couple of hours after the long journey, Hawaii was a dream. I'll never forget getting off the plane in Honolulu and being greeted by a gorgeous rainbow and the smell of nectar in the warm, willowy, air. I felt enveloped in bliss and natural splendor.
As quickly as the dream appeared, though, it vanished. When we got to our hotel there was a message waiting at the front desk to call Buffalo. We called home and learned Anne had got her cough checked out-it was cancer; terminal cancer. Arthur and I spent our first night in Hawaii holding each other and crying in a dark hotel room that could have been anywhere.
Our time in Hawaii was difficult. Thousands of miles away from Anne, we felt helpless. We could not enjoy ourselves. Seeing something beautiful-like Rainbow Falls-reminded us Anne would never see it again. Seeing something ancient-like Volcano National Park-reminded us Anne would not live to be old. Seeing children playing on Waikiki Beach saddened us with the knowledge Anne would not live to see her first grandchild born. It was all too much to bear, and we cut our trip short to return to our "Annemom."
Annemom said we shouldn't have left Hawaii early, but we're glad we did-it allowed us more precious time to spend with her before she died. Now, as we embark on our journey of healing and remembering the woman we loved so much, we want to return to Hawaii-a place that means so much to us-both good and bad. We want to turn the sad memories into good and feel the spirit of our Annemom in the warm, comforting, winds of a place she called "heaven."