September 14, 2021

Ok, I am going to take you guys on a trip to Hawaii!  It is a long trip so put on your reading glasses.  I hope you have time to get to the end because I share a story of how we almost lost my daughter in the ocean that is worth the time. I even wrote a poem about it!  Oh please as a favor to me if you do read the whole thing leave me a note in the comments so I feel it was worth spinning this much yarn.  I always love it when you share my stories so hit the share button if you are so inclined. Put on your seatbelts we are about to take off!

The summer my daughter was a sophomore in high school we took a family vacation to Hawaii. Our son was married and out of the house, so it was My wife, myself and our daughter Alisa.  Brenda and I were best friends, so we decided to invite Alisa’s best friend Holly along on the trip.  Teenagers are much more fun when they are not bored and for most girls that age it takes a friend not to be bored. 

We went first to the island of Oahu which is the home of the famous Waikiki Beach.  Tall resort hotels cluttered the lovely beaches spraying commercialism throughout the landscape.  The sand was packed with vacationing fun seekers soaking up the year-round perfect weather.

The water was decorated with schools of colorful kayakers, breathtaking bright yellow parasails flown by glittering boats and bobbing tourists packing the salt water like sardines.

When I testify perfect weather I was not prevaricating.   Hawaii’s average high temperature is 79 degrees with an average overnight low of sixty-five. They get about 60 inches of rain a year and an average snowfall of zero.  Yes zero, take that Minnesota!  

Except for an unlikely hurricane, Hawaii is paradise on earth.  Not so comfortable on the pocketbook though.  Food and lodging are expensive as you would expect but the beautiful surroundings do make it a value.  There is always a road alongside the ocean.  You can rent a car on any one of the islands and in three to five hours cruise most if not all the beaches with staggering scenic satisfaction.

If you ever travel to the Islands be sure and catch a traditional Luau with Hula dancers and a Haka War dance.  The Luau is going to be great Polynesian food and the authentic dancers will be quite entertaining. The dictionary describes the Hula as, a sensuous mimetic Hawaiian dance, performed sitting or standing, with undulating gestures to instruments and chant.  

I would describe it as a bunch of pretty girls dressed in grass skirts and coconut shells for tops that can really move their hips.  The girls will like the dance and the guys will like the dancers.

The Haka dance is a whole different story.  It is a group of guys carrying spears and wearing jock straps jumping around on the ground while sticking their tongues out.  I think it was used by Polynesians tribes to scare their enemies.  Who could look the meanest, toughest and make the scariest faces!  These guys have learned how to stick their tongues out a very long way.  I assume they exercise by sticking their tongue on a frozen flagpole. It is quite interesting and watching them dance with flaming torches is visually stimulating and quite impressive.  It is just as well they aren’t wearing much clothing because they would catch something on fire.

I don’t recommend a cheap luau as the girls will probably be old and men  fat.  You are going a long way for the trip make the show worth it.  If they have a white guy with blond hair or a woman over 60 in the dance troupe, I would ask for my money back.

I love the restaurants in Hawaii because most of them are open air.  Everyone eats outside.  The weather is scrumptious, they don’t have many bugs so eating out is great fun.  Even the hotels have outdoor restaurants. Breakfast was glorious.  Reminiscent of the old movies when the maid would ask the rich people if they wanted to “take breakfast on the Veranda”.  

You may not have to deal with bugs but there are plenty of birds.  Especially sparrows.  We would be eating outside and about 10 sparrows would be sitting on the decorative wall outlining the dining area just watching us eat.  Then when you get up and leave they bus the tables.  They worked like a team.  A couple of them would drag off a piece of toast.  Two or three others would be working on the left-over hash browns and one greedy fellow would sop up the egg yellow smeared on the plate. A lucky birdie might get half a pancake.

If we lingered over breakfast, you could literally see the impatience on their feathered faces.  Clearly it was it their job to clean the table.  You felt like they were musing, “come on get moving we have work to do!”  

Besides the sparrows, wild or feral chickens roam the Hawaiian Islands.  They seem to be everywhere.  It is not unusual to be sitting in an open-air restaurant and have a chicken walk under your table. They scurry about seeking scraps that fall to the floor. Hike up a mountain trail and roosters serenade from the nearby jungle. 

The chickens entered the wild through a couple of hurricanes that freed them from their coops and blew them over the islands.  They are small and quick but not much good for domestication. The males can be very colorful with bright red combs and beards but sorry girls the females are plain.  Locals say their meat is so tough that when you cook them up it is easier to eat the pot than the chicken.  

Three days into our vacation we were going to leave Oahu and fly to Maui for the rest of the trip.  We had about 4 hours to kill from the time we checked out of our hotel till we had to be at the airport, so we decided to go hang out on a beach.

We asked a local if there was a public sand spot that wasn’t just swamped with tourists, and he recommended Sandy Beach.  We arrived and it was quite stunning.  There was a multitude of sun worshipers but the only faithful in the water were young men 15-25 on surf boards and boogie boards.  Not even young children splashing in the shallows.  We didn’t think much about it.  We were in our travel shorts and shoes not planning to get wet as we had to go straight to the airport from there.

The waves were banging the shore with power so we were just walked along  the beach looking for shells and people watching.  I had the video camera with me and while the girls were laying out, I took off my shoes and would sneak out on the wet ocean floor as the tide escaped, then dash back when the water returned to shore.  Sometimes I would have to scurry as it would forcefully travel further onto the sandy shore.

After a bit of water play we all took off our shoes for leisurely a walk beside the water.  We strolled a bit picking up shells and skipping them out to sea.  Then we paused and the four of us waded out slightly into the oncoming tide.  We grouped in a round eyes to eyes laughing as the tide would roll out leaving us standing dry.  Then in a few moments rush back across our feet, up our ankles and sometimes climb halfway up to our knees.  The girls would giggle and dance as the waves would bathe their legs.

We enjoyed multiple cycles and it was great fun until a fierce wave surprised us and literally started sucking the sand out from under our feet. We were still laughing when I noticed a glimmer of fear in Alisa’s eyes.  Suddenly she started to sway, and then fell as if a rug had been pulled from under her feet and the tide was dragging her away.

I had positioned myself between the water and the girls so as she was going by I reached to keep her.  It was too strong for me to hold her and keep my own footing.  Now we were both heading out to sea.  I held onto to her as we were carried out.  It pulled and dunked us I don’t know how deep till it threw us back onto the beach.  I thought we were safe but before we could get up the tide had Alisa again.  I could have stayed on my own but it had her again.  I hooked on and it drug us both out again. 

I saw the water as a wet sandy storm all around us.  I don’t remember holding my breath or taking air, but I am sure we were under the water most of the time. Then the tide threw us back onto the beach once more.  We were sprawled out side by side just laying there when I felt the tide crawling up my body once again.  Alisa was lying flat on the beach, her long blond hair was pulled over her head covering her face and stretched out a good foot and a half in front of her.  By now I was fatigued, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stop us from going out again so I reached for her resigned to follow fate one more time into the water.  

Just as it started to drag us away my wife Brenda ran up, grabbed a hand full of Alisa’s hair and braced.  With me holding on from the side and Brenda from the shore the two of us were able to keep her and me from another water excursion.

We were both clothed in sand.  Our ears, eyes, toes and all the orifices were filled with the tiny gravel.  It took half an hour to clean up enough to get on the airplane.   It was a harrowing experience, I thought I was going to lose my daughter.  It bruised my emotions to the point that I refused to voice the trauma for a couple of years.  To deal with the fear filled memories I wrote a poem I entitled “The Ocean.”    I hope you enjoy this metered recant of the event.

We had been playing together that day, the Sea and me. I would tease her, you can’t get me, you can’t get me. She would roar and slap at the sand hoping to catch me while visiting land. Oh I would let her kiss my ankles even spray my knee, but then I would laugh and run chiding, you can’t get me.

Tempting fate is logic corrosion and my death-defying brain cells were having a population explosion. I searched a camera to record my quarry, arrogantly I planned to humiliate this adversary.

Immodestly filming the luscious bosoms, she so willing rolled my way. Come closer they would say, feel my embrace you can enjoy this happy place. I would pretend to stay, but then just as we were to consummate, I would run and laugh, it was only play. You can’t get me; you can’t get me.

Call the children she said in deceit, I will playfully tickle their feet. They will cackle with glee at the touch of me. You’ll be safe on the hill; I won’t go that high. I’ll just sprinkle and spray and then say goodbye.

At my visa, out came Mom, Holly and my last born, Alisa. I stood between the sea and they, it was a father’s protective way. I watched their smiles and followed their giggles, no alarms rang, still my eyes were eagles.  They danced as she kissed their ankles and wiggled through toes. Who would think this fun was soon to bring woes? 

The lady betrayed me for her entice was but a search for a sacrifice. I thought it was a game, but in truth she sought a life to drain. In the midst of the laughter, she stole my Alisa intending disaster. She took her so fast the smiles and cries were the same, left with but my simpleness to blame.

I reached out to arrest the thief, but the powerful lady bore my girl in her teeth.  I found no choice but to join the abduction, she took us both with a herculean suction.   I seized my daughter and we bound tight, but the Lady was now bent for vengeance with no mercy in sight. Her beautiful wickedness dragging us away with all my strength I could not stop that day. Towed to the depths for my sin, what a fix we were in.

She thrashed us and shook us to shake me away, yet I was able the moment to stay. To hold is a sire’s right; she would not take this child without a fight. The lady threw us to shore, bruising my offspring and diminishing me more. I thought, finally we’re free. I reached to pull Alisa next to me. But this foe was learned, it was just her way for she had her again and was taking her away. My father’s heart dared not break the embrace, I held on as the lady took us to another place. Again, to the sea, my daughter and me.

I held on with all my heart as she swirled to pull us apart. Determined she was to steal my treasure and make me pay her pride full measure. We rolled like a Ferris wheel, bounced like a ball. We were churned and spurned but I was up for the call. So once again she threw us aside to separate bodies before we could hide.

As we lay there gasping, she sought to trap her again, yet my weakened sinews answered the challenge if even to the end. Then a deliverer appeared for Mother was there who reached down and held Alisa’s long hair. At that point the love became strong, because two that are one can hold – forever long. We both were enough to keep the child we held dear.  The lady relented no longer near.  As suddenly as it had begun, it was done.

I hope you enjoyed that.  We were at the beach numerous times more before out home flight was bound.  We savored the views and sounds but never entered the ocean again that trip. The girls were happy to swim in the hotel pool. My daughter said she was finding sand for 3 days.

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