I arrived Thursday afternoon and by sunset, was in a heated debate with my sister. It’s oddly refreshing to know some things never change. After a few minutes of strong opinions, I offered to agree to disagree and changed the subject. The topic of our conversation doesn’t matter; she and I are just too different to ever see eye to eye, and it’s totally okay with me. I just need to remember to bite my lip.
Aside from The Sister Throw Down, my trip home for Dick’s funeral went better than I imagined. Mom held up great, and I was there to hold her hand throughout the service and reception at The Elks Club.
Going back to the club was less emotional than expected. Perhaps it’s because this trip wasn’t about me. Still, walking through the dining room, taking in the views of the surf and sand, I was reminiscent.
|From the canoe, headed out to sea|
I’m so grateful to have reconnected with my step-brother, David (Dick’s son), through this natural course of events. And even though he was unable to make the trip home, I felt his presence greatly.
In an exchange of very personal emails, David helped remind me of all the fun times we shared growing up, especially at The Elks Club. I am so grateful he did, because in an attempt to erase the bad times, I forgot about good ones. David helped bring them back.
During the reception, a couple of family members spoke, including Mayor Peter Carlisle, who is Dick’s cousin by marriage. Peter’s speech was amazing. He captured Dick’s essence of being a real pain in the ass, without any disrespect or malice. The room was filled with laughter and we all spoke of Dick’s positive attributes, rather than harp on his negative shortcomings.
Soon after the speeches, I was off to the canoe to scatter Dick’s ashes at sea, which was his wish. Other than the two paddlers, I was alone in the boat. I said some final words to Dick, and released his ashes to the warm Waikiki waters. In Hawaiian tradition, I scattered flowers in the water and the canoe paddlers raised their paddles and we shared a moment of silence.
The rest of my trip was all about spending time with family – including some one on one time with two of my best friends, Allyn and Joey. I haven’t seen Joey in 14 years, so there was a ton of catching up to do!
Allyn and Joey knew me when. They witnessed my addiction and held me up every time I fell. No matter how many years it’s been, our conversations are effortless and always pick up as if no time passed at all.
I always learn a little about myself when I go back to Hawaii. I still call it home, although I’ve realized there’s a juxtaposition of “Home” now, which includes Southern California. I’ve built a life for myself here and am so grateful for my friends off the island as well.
As predicted, this trip home to the islands was indeed, a full circle experience. I didn’t fall back into the girl I once was, and recognized the little things I did that kept myself on a healing path.
My mother still worked my last nerve at times (don’t they all?) and I accepted the reality that my sister is a great person, who I have nothing in common with except for our DNA.
Before heading to the airport I snuck a copy of The Moment book in my niece, Sydney’s suitcase. My sister and mom don’t speak of the book (because it would shed light on my stripping and drug addiction – and they never speak of that), but I know my niece is aware of my past. I also know, no matter how close she is to her mom (my sister), she has never judged me or thought less of me for my past experiences.
It’s important for me that Sydney has this book. She’s 21, in love, and graduating college this year. And although my life at 21 was worlds apart from where her life is now, we all want the same things.
We all just want to discover our true selves, what we are born to do, and to love and be loved, for who we are – not what people want us to be.
It took me decades of poor choices and lessons learned the hard way, but I’m exactly where I am supposed to be right now; this trip home was a beautiful reminder.
“Sometimes you have to grow up before you appreciate how you grew up.” – Daniel Black