When I was still thinking about moving to Hawaii, I was curious to know everything about the lives of people who lived here. What did the inside of their homes look like? What was Christmas like? Other life events?
One life event that has happened much too often for us lately is a funeral, both here and on the mainland. The mainland funerals (for young and old alike) are somber affairs, held in churches or mortuaries, and everyone dresses up in their best black.
On Maui, we’ve been to two funerals in two years. One was a rodeo. (Upcountry, of course.) They strapped the cremated remains to a bull, slapped it on the rump, and off it went, bucking… “Bully’s last ride.”
This week, another. He died while enjoying an extreme sport. These adrenaline-junkie guys (and Mike is one of them), would rather go out doing what they love, than any other way. The service was held outside on a dreary, crisp day at an Upcountry property, with a number of white tents set up. The attendees, most between the ages of 25 and 35, also extreme-sport addicts, talked of their own near-misses. A funeral is sobering that way.
These bronzed, gorgeous Adonis’s and goddesses, every one of them with ripped, perfectly toned bodies– milled about, including two lactating mothers, who kept pulling out the feeding stations (with no coverage.) The women all had that just-rolled-out-of-bed- but-still-looks-perfect long hair. Their clothing was hippie-chic, and many were barefoot, even in the chill. Those who weren’t, tended toward the kind of hand-tooled leather boots one could find only in Italy. The guys wore tone-on-tone Tommy Bahama silk shirts. (The Hawaiian floral shirt is so over.)
Many in the young crowd looked as though they might have Trust funds and subsist on seaweed and fresh Alaskan salmon; the ultimate picture of health, except for the copious amounts of alcohol being consumed.
The pastor arrived two hours late–on Maui time. (Plenty of time to drink before the food could be blessed.) People stood around as Pastor blew the conch shell, gave a short talk, and then played the ukulele, as a few sang “Hawaii Aloha.” It was a perfect example of old-timers versus newcomers. Only the people who had grown up in Hawaii, like Mike, and had learned this song in school, knew the words. The rest of us stood silent. No, “Please get out your hymnal and turn to page 131” here.
A makeshift altar held the box with the ashes, draped with fragrant leis:
The buffet table offered lomi-lomi salmon, sashimi, fish, and pulled pork for lettuce cups. And all that alcohol.
The day grew colder and the clouds enveloped us. It’s an eerie feeling to stand inside the clouds Upcountry. Gray, moist, and heavy, they fall over you like a blanket.
It was time to head back down the mountain. To sunshine and warmth and home.
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This was so beautiful, thank you! I forget if I told you, but some of the scenes in my upcoming second book take place on Maui. (Maui doubles for Heaven in my books.) One of the quotes I used to introduce a chapter was from Mark Twain, speaking about Hawaii…
“That peaceful land, that beautiful land, that far-off home of profound repose, and soft indolence, and dreamy solitude, where life is one long slumberous Sabbath, the climate one long delicious summer day, and the good that die experience no change, for they but fall asleep in one heaven and wake up in another.”
Very nice to read this poignant passage from you about real life and death on Maui! Mahalo as always for your beautiful words!
Thank YOU for this beautiful quote by Mark Twain. I’ve read much of what he wrote while in Hawaii, but had not seen this one. Thank you for sharing!
Good luck with your book…keep me informed…
I look forward to your posts so much! Mahalo for helping us know the Aloha feeling.
Thank you for commenting. I’m so glad you look forward to the posts…