04 November 2012

Home leave

Perhaps it is because I never lived as a part of my family in Hawai'i that, to me, our 'home leave' in 1978 did not at all feel like going home. It was returning to Yap that was that.  Perhaps it was different for Susan.  Susan's mother and father had been separated for some years by this time, so our trip was to be a three-cornered affair - me to the Big Island to see my parents, Susan first to Los Angeles, to visit her mother, then to Seattle, where her father lived - and Seattle, at least, had definitely been 'home' for her during the years of her life from high school until she moved to Honolulu.

Sometime in August of 1978, we - the four of us - me, Susan, Johnny, and Helen - flew to Guam, and, from there, to Honolulu.  Thence I went to Hilo, and, so far as I remember, I spent the whole time of our vacation - perhaps three weeks - in the Big Island, either in the house in Hilo, or up at the farm above Pa'auilo.  There is little to relate about my own side of the trip.  I principally remember being struck - with deep admiration, in fact - by my sister Robin.

I had not seen Robin since, I think, about 1970 when, for a short time, she stayed in my flat in Honolulu.  She was playing music professionally then, but I never heard her play.  I recall, with awe, waking one morning early in Pa'auilo.  Robin was outside the house, on a little verandah, practising - perhaps her saxophone, although she plays an impressive array of instruments, of all sorts.  Her playing was - is, I am sure! - breathtakingly beautiful..

And she sang.  She had, by then, smoked pretty heavily for years.  Her speaking voice was a little rough, not very attractive.  But she was singing - I think it was The Girl from Ipanema.  I was astonished.  Her voice was like honey dripping out of a jug.

Seeing Robin's first child, Ka'ai, is my other memory from that time.  Ka'ai was just 8 months old and was Robin's other focus.  I cannot be said to have 'met' an 8-month old baby, I think :-) - but when, a few years ago, Ka'ai came and stayed with me and Susan here, during part of her studies at the University of Auckland, I was reminded of that first encounter.

Susan, Johnny, and Helen flew on from Honolulu to Los Angeles.  Virginia - Sue's mother - was working at UCLA and shared a house with a friend.  Candace, Sue's sister, had flown in from New York, and, for part of the week they stayed there, her mother's brother Bob and his wife Lois came down from Bakersfield.  My impression, from talking with Susan about this trip, is that she really remembers as little in detail about it as I do about mine.  She does remember their visiting her mother's friend Lenore Rix.  Lenore herself is unremarkable, but her son - a University lecturer at UCLA - was a man with definite opinions about the ways the world works.  He was a serious conspiracy theorist - an author, apparently, of numerous books on ... well, on numerous conspiracies.  I wish Sue could remember more about him.  One is tempted to find some of the books of this sort.  I confess to finding conspiracy theories, for the most part, more amusing than seriously interesting.

It must, I am sure, have been sad for Sue to leave her mother and fly to Seattle.  Her parents' separation (they were not divorced at this time) is certainly a sad thing and painful to her.  She must now leave her mother, her sister, and her aunt and uncle, to fly to see her father and other relations.

She did this, in any case.  She was raised in the Portland, Oregon area until about the age of 12, when her family moved to Seattle.  A visit to Seattle was, of necessity, a visit to Portland.  Sue's father drove her with the children down there to see her grandmother Lois ('Lolo') - Sue thinks this may have been the last time they met one another, as Lolo died in 1983 - but what about the home trips in 1980 and 1982?  Anyway, most of her uncles and aunts lived in Portland.  In Seattle, our friend from Yap, Tom Bratt (now Seann Bardell as he has changed his name) came to see her.

Finally the trip was over.  Flight to Honolulu; meet me; home to Yap, where life, with its difficulties, goes on - it was sometime in the next six months that she visited the lawyer to talk about divorce, and - thank God! - decided against it.  And it was a few months after that that she discovered she was pregnant.

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