Saturday, June 21, 2008

Island Memories

When I was 16, I was lucky enough to go on vacation with my parents to the little island of Kauai. Granted, vacationing with parents when you're 16 never really sounds like fun, but I got to go to Hawaii, while Iowa was dealing with winter, and frolic on beaches. I went horseback riding in a sugar cane field that led to a sandy white beach with crystal blue water. I got to go to a luau and watch hula girls and guys dance and play with fire. Some guy in his 20s thought I looked cute while feeding peacocks and gave me his phone number. (What, I was going to give him mine? Ha. I knew how to play the game.) While it was only 70 degrees and the locals were wearing jeans and sweaters, we were wearing swimsuits and shorts and laying out near the water. We went just a couple of years after a hurricane blew through, and the island wasn't up and running yet. People were living in the condos we were staying at because they had nowhere else to go. I thought it was kinda fun to have roosters wake me up at 5 am. In Hawaii!

And I don't know why the memory struck me tonight, but I remember going to the grocery store with my mom. It was just the two of us - my dad and his mom were back at the condo, and friends who had come with us were off on the island doing their own thing. I marveled at a $5.00 gallon of milk. Paradise, it seemed, came with a cost.

While we were getting in line, a man with a small red basket of items came up to us and asked my mom to help him pay for his groceries. She faltered and said she couldn't. He said, "That's ok," and then left, leaving the basket near the front of the store. Mom immediately regretted her decision and told me to go running after him to find him, and I tried, but when I got outside, he was nowhere in sight. I found it a little odd. He wasn't more than 10 seconds ahead of me, and the parking lot was large, but he was just gone. Vanished.

After my mom passed away a few short months later, I thought about this incident. In addition to this oddity, not long before my mom passed away, she told me of a strange dream, only she swore it wasn't a dream. She said she woke up in the middle of the night, and a cloaked figure was standing at the foot of the bed. She called out my name because I was the only other one in the house (Dad was sleeping next to her). The figure didn't move, didn't say a word, just stood there. She told me she hid under the covers, and when she looked again, the figure was gone.

I wouldn't say that I was superstitious, but after she died, I really started to wonder at these two phenomenon. Was the man in Kauai an angel testing her to see how nice she was and if she passed the test, would she have lived? Who was the cloaked figure? Another angel, deciding it was definitely her that was going to be next?

More likely than not, the guy in Hawaii was probably someone who just happened to look at a lady who had a kid and thought she looked nice enough to help him out. She was; she just thought of my dad and how mad he would've been if he knew she spent money to help a complete stranger, and having to deal with a mad alcoholic is no way to spend a vacation.

The cloaked stranger likely was a dream as well, but you know there are times when dreams feel so real (like every night as I'm going to bed and I dream a spider is spinning a web down to my bed), you're convinced you were awake.

Is there a point to this story? Not so much. But if you're looking for one, stop being a schmuck and be nice. Help someone out, especially someone who a) could really use it and/or b) doesn't expect it.

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