Imagine the title of this post delivered in flat, measured tones by a Caucasian man; then imagine an imitation of that in the feminine voice of my diminutive little sister, and you have an idea of what I hear when I call her in Hawaii.
We heard “aloha”s and “mahalo”s in plenty in person this week; after a whirlwind confluence of events and sudden planning, we visited Hawaii ourselves – my mom, my big brother Joe, and Michael and the boys and I.
It was a wonderful visit. In a lot of ways Honolulu looks like Los Angeles, only with cleaner air and slightly more jungly vegetation. On our first full day we drove to the north shore to swim. In Hawaii, drivers drive in a slllllooow . . . leeeeeisurely fashion, unsettling to visitors from Los Angeles. John chased chickens under the trees, and a little child in swimming trunks, all of about four years old himself, warned us, “Hey, your baby is getting away!”
We swam; we had lots of meals together with family; we rested under rustling palm trees by a peaceful lagoon; we said Mass for Dad, and asked for help from St. Monica for children who stand on airline seats and repeatedly push the stewardess call button even when threatened with a personal Armageddon; we sat on the balcony of the Ilikai Hotel after the children had gone to sleep, watching old episodes of Hawaii 5-0. It was lovely.
Beautiful feet are they that go
Swiftly to lighten another’s woe
These are my dad’s boots. He passed away on August 24, 2012.
Happy birthday into heaven, Dad. Say hi to Mary and all the saints and angels.
Yesterday as I drove up our hill in the early evening, I smelled a very “city” smell: a mix of refuse, scent, flowers, and animal droppings. As I reached the crest of the hill and started down, I could see the glow of sunset in one corner of the sky, and things had the saturated coloring of early twilight.
This evening I knelt in a tiny adoration chapel. Through the window I could hear a train whistle in the distance; then an ambulance, over the low sound of car motors. I looked at Jesus, and thought about the sound of the train whistle, which brings back my childhood. I’m still here, and so has Jesus ever been.
We had said a rosary earlier, and now had a few moments of silent adoration. We sang the Salve Regina. I sat at Mary’s feet and put my head on her knees. I said, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” and I knew she would understand.
I watched as the sister lit the incense for Benediction. I saw the tiny plume of smoke, and waited for the scent to spread. I smelled the sweet smell, and was hit with Dad.
It wasn’t an image, or a feeling; it was just, Dad. And I started to cry. I who had told two people in the last two days in a very matter-of-fact way about my dad’s passing in the summer time. The sisters began the Tantum Ergo and Divine Praises, and I tried to say the words but mostly failed. I have heard that the Holy Spirit has a gift of tears. I don’t know if it was that, but I am pretty sure it was a gift.