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As If It Were Only Yesterday
Dedicated to Barbara Sylvester
Submitted by Nick
Long Beach, CA- July,1960
Larry Windley and I sat around the Long Beach Veterans Hospital Olympic size pool, playing cards, taking in the warm July sun.
Larry, co-founder of the world famous Maui Divers of Hawaii, was a patient at the Long Beach VA, having suffered the BENDS. He was now a paraplegic and undergoing physical rehabilitation.
I was the pool manager, life guard and also a student-athlete at Long Beach State University.
Larry and I became the best of pals during that summer, sharing life stories, hopes and dreams.
We also made it a "kind of hobby" to sort out the female physical therapy interns when they came to the pool.
There was one in particular that we both couldn't keep our eyes off of. Her name was Barbara and she had just graduated from UCLA's School of Physical Therapy.
Larry grinned at me. "It's only fair we play one hand of show-down poker. Winner gets to ask her out."
I scratched my blond crewcut, glanced at our "newest find" and nodded with a goofy grin.
Larry shuffled, dealt out five cards each. .
While the cards lay face down, I glanced over at Barbara and saw that she had replaced her starchy, white uniform with a black, one piece bathing suit. "Ohhmygawd", I breathed.
Larry laughed and before I could look at my cards, he exclaimed, "You win! Go for it big guy!"
He grabbed the cards and slipped them back in the pack.
Thanks to Larry, Barbara and I had a whirl-wind courtship and married.
My pal Larry passed away a few years later after he had returned to Maui. He had taken a skiff from Lahaina to Lanai. The waters in the Channel were extremely choppy and Larry never returned.
Every now and then, Barb and I talk about Larry, and, after all these years, wonder if he hadn't stacked those cards in my favor.
IT SEEMS AS IF IT WERE ONLY YESTERDAY when Larry grinned and said, " You Win! Go for it big guy".
Later, Barbara and I moved to Honolulu with our two sons. Another son was born at Queens Medical Center, and thinking of Larry, we named him Kalani, which means "From The Heavens."