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Dedicated to Joe
Submitted by Peggy
Joe and I married in 1989, when we were both into our middle years. His one constant wish was to take me to Hawaii, to share with me what he had discovered in his four previous trips to Hawaii, to share with me "the most beautiful place on earth." I had seen movies, pictures, and advertisements and had no doubt the islands were lovely. The problem was that everything I saw featured perfectly sculpted young people playing golf and tennis or frolicking on beaches in skimpy bikinis. "What in the world would I do in Hawaii besides look at the palm trees," was my constant refrain. I did not play tennis or golf and I was certainly too weight and age challenged to frolic anywhere, especially in the waves.
Our love of travel took us on cruises to Mexico and the Caribbean, to Europe, and all over the United States and Canada and yet, every time we planned a trip, Hawaii came always came up. I steadfastly refused to go. It was too expensive became my next argument. As Joe's sixty-fifth birthday approached, I quizzed him about how he wanted to celebrate this benchmark. His only request was to visit Hawaii one more time. He said that if I would not go, would I at least promise to scatter his ashes there. I booked the trip.
Flying to Hawaii from the Midwest is time consuming. Flying coach class is downright cramped and uncomfortable, so by the time we landed in Honolulu, I was anxious to escape the confines of the plane and stretch my legs. I paused long enough to have a lei placed around my neck and then raced for the outdoor area near the arrival gate for some fresh air, with Joe close on my heels. I suddenly stopped and looked at the landscaping in awe. I was completely mesmerized by the beauty and this was just at the airport! We spent two exciting days in Waikiki and by the end of the first day I was in love with Hawaii.
The third day we flew to Kauai to spend five more nights in paradise. Leaving the airport in our rental car, I was again left speechless by the majestic sight of the Pacific Ocean on our right. As we arrived at our resort, I practically gaped in wonder…there were no walls around the lobby, it was completely open to the elements and was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. I thought Waikiki was wonderful and exciting, but Kauai was beyond description, I had no words to describe it, had not, in fact, ever heard any words that were adequate. It was as if I breathed for the first time in my life.
Our time in Kauai opened a new window on life for us. We shared simple pleasures together, from feeding the chickens that run loose all over the island to discovering the exquisite and timeless voice of Iz. In all my travels, I don't think I had ever encountered friendlier people than the people of Hawaii. They seemed to take genuine pleasure in welcoming us to their islands and the aloha spirit was so sincere that I was often left speechless. I looked around me and suddenly realized that not only were the people just like me, not always model perfect, but they were there to enjoy Hawaii, not to look at what I wore. I gave in and bought a swimming suit and we visited the lagoon at Lydgate Park, where we delighted in feeding the vibrantly colored tropical fish, laughing and, yes, frolicking in the water. At the age of 55, I actually frolicked for the first time in my life. On our fourth day, I spent the morning in tears at the thought of returning home. Joe simply placed a phone call and arranged to stay longer. It was as if my soul had found a home, a home Joe had always kept for me, a home we now would share forever.
This year, as we plan our second trip together to Kauai, my Joe was diagnosed with cancer. We are battling that disease and continuing to enjoy our time together. We will return to Kauai as often as life and our limited budget allows, knowing that each trip will be even more memorable and knowing that no matter what happens, our souls will always find their way to each other and we will laugh and frolic in the waves and walk in our paradise, our Hawaii, together.