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Dedicated to My daughter
Submitted by Sheryl
Looking in the huge blue album, I cannot help but be enchanted by the slender girl with the fanny length hair. She stands in the wind softly looking at the camera. She purses her lips to blow a kiss. Angled brown eyes mock tenderly.
"Mona" my father always says her name with a caress. "Mona carried a piece of me with her when she left." He looks so distant I ache to hug him, but my father doesn't hug. My father is the young sailor in the photo album. He is weathered, his face etched, his blond hair turned silver, but green eyes glimmer. He doesn't want to talk about her. I have to sneak the album out when he is gone. I have never been to Hawaii. Father says that I will go there when I am old enough to go alone.
I am fifteen. I wonder if that is old enough. I look at the pretty woman in the photos. I stare at my face in the mirror, cruelly assessing its flaws. My coffee brown hair, skin like a dirty coconut because I love the beach and can never remember to wear suntan lotion. My eyes are green and almond shaped. . The kids at school used to call me an alien. I have his square chin, but I wish I had her kitten look. I feel a hollow ache as I wonder what she thought about.
In the pounding surf I come alive when the gray waters of Huntington Beach fight me for control of my long board. Muscles curl in my arms and legs and my hair is clumpy with salt water and sand. When the sea wrests me from my board, I laugh out loud as I swim to regain control. My father says I am a throwback.
I am planning my trip to the Mother Country. I don't know when I will go, but I will go. So many questions worry their way through my mind. I grew up on multiple naval bases with three stepmothers, three half-brothers. When father retired, we moved to Southern California. Sometimes he fishes in his little boat. He never comes to the parent/teacher meetings. I make good grades, but it is a little embarrassing that he never sets foot near my school. Only the album and the conch shell commemorate Mona, yet I know that his soul yearns like mine does. I know he feels the call. It is organic. It is spirit. Hawaii is a part of his soul too.
I was born four months after they were married in the naval hospital. The only words he ever quoted were the words she said when I was born, "Call her Hawaii. She will have peace." She died within hours. The siren's song of my homeland pulls. There is much that I will know when I breathe the air and feel the soil. Questions will be answered. Only when I return can I truly be Hawaii.