I don’t know if you’re curious about why I end my emails and letters with the word “Aloha,” but I thought it might be an interesting blog today because this very Hawaiian word comes from a warm, tropical archipelago––located in the Tropic of Cancer about 20-degrees above the equator––where I lived for thirty-five years. And where I live now, in Blaine, Washington, just two miles south of the Canadian border, it’s cold, and snowing really hard.
We’ve lived in Blaine exactly six years and whenever it snows I’m reminded of Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz statement to her little dog, when she looks around Oz in amazement and says: “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
I miss Hawaii terribly. The longing to be there is constant, whether its snowing, or not. When people hear that we lived there for thirty-five years they ask, in amazement just like Dorothy, “why did you ever leave?”
The short answer is Terrorism. Or fear of it.
In 2000, Bob sailed our boat, Discovery, to Blaine, so we could cruise the San Juan and Gulf Islands. Previously, we’d made at least three trips to the area and checked the islands out thoroughly, or so we thought. We liked the places we saw and the people we met there, and thought it would be a great place to continue cruising when we retired. It is. Our original plan was to fly back and forth, from Hawaii to Washington for summer cruising, then back to Hawaii for the winter.
Our first cruising summer from June through September, 2000, was a lot of fun. Then we drove to California to see our children, and during that visit we learned that Bob needed a hip replacement.
“Why not get it taken care of in California?” we thought. And he did, in late August, 2001.
Ten days after Bob’s operation Al Qaida Terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers. Suddenly the world was all changed. Nine-eleven was a horrifying day for the world, for the United States, and for us.
A few days after 9/11 Bob accidentally stepped into a kiddie wading pool, broke his hip-replacement leg, and returned to the hospital, via ambulance, for emergency surgery.
Sharri, our flight attendant daughter was concerned about flying. We were scared, too. We began considering what could happen, flying back and forth to the islands, and that’s when we decided to sell our Hawaii house and live permanently on the Mainland. It was fear, pure and simple.
We bought a house in San Juan Capistrano and for the next few years we spent winters in Southern California and summers in Blaine. The terror chatter increased and I grew afraid Los Angeles wasn’t safe enough either, so we bought a home in the Pacific Northwest, and moved north.
The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful, evergreen area, but…(sigh)…it just isn’t Hawaii. However, one day a few years ago I remembered something my late surfing friend Rell Sunn said when we were sitting on the beach at Makaha. At the time she was battling terminal cancer; she lost.
“We never tell people we love them enough,” said Rell. “So wherever I go and whatever I do, I always say ‘aloha.’” Rell took her aloha all over the world.
Among its many meanings, aloha means “love and affection;” it can also mean hello or goodbye. I found this definition on the Internet at http://www.To-Hawaii.com/aloha: “Aloha is a Hawaiian symbol and its meaning goes beyond any definition you can find about it in a dictionary. In Hawaii you hear aloha all the time and you are treated with aloha everywhere.” It also says “Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Its deep meaning starts by teaching ourselves to love our own beings first and afterwards to spread the love to others…Being able to live the Spirit of Aloha is a way of reaching self-perfection and realization for our own body and soul. Aloha is sending and receiving a positive energy. Aloha is living in harmony. When you live the Spirit of Aloha, you create positive feelings and thoughts, which are never gone. They exist in space, multiply and spread over to others.”
I’m no longer afraid of the terrorists. I say aloha to create positive thoughts, warm my spirit and spread the love, and the word makes me feel warm. So that’s why I always sign off with it––whether its snowing, or not. Aloha.