Monday it was my turn to check out Pearl Harbor with Dan. Mike had enjoyed the entire day there the day before, untethered by any potentially bored family members. He watched Casey so that Dan and I could explore the memorial, because no one wants to spend the time learning about an important historical event with the constant background noise of whines and moans and cries about being too hot and too thirsty and too… whatever. (I dealt with enough of that yesterday!)
Anyway, even though Dan and I were outside and on our tour bus by 5:45 am, neither of us were quite awake yet. That is, until we started talking to Pualani.
Pualani (which means heavenly flower) was our tour guide but it turns out that she was really much more than that. You should see the way this native Hawaiian maneuvers a bus with one hand, holds up pictures of the infamous bombing with her other, shares WW2 history, points out Honolulu sites, and honks at her bus driver friends, basically all at the same time. She had everyone on that bus laughing by 6 am and crying by 8 am.
She pointed out so many sites on the way to Pearl Harbor and talked loud and fast about each and every one, relating a lot of them to the story of that fateful day on December 7th, 1941. Once we arrived and were waiting outside for the gates to open, none of us minded the rain because she had us (and everyone else within earshot) pretty captivated talking about the events leading up to the attack. She described her grandmother’s fear as she witnessed the clouds of dark smoke rising above the harbor while young men were being blown off of their boats and into the dark, oily water. She was standing with her back to the harbor and while she wiped her own tears away we noticed the rain had stopped and a double rainbow appeared behind her. I couldn’t help but get choked up. (Her constant pointing to Dan and saying things like ‘our young sons and brothers’ as she talked may have had something to do that.) Luckily though, she would get us laughing in between the tears; purposely adding some levity to the air while we witness a memorial that can weigh so heavy on a heart.
My only regret was not getting her phone number or her last name so that I can get back in touch with her. (Seriously I can’t find her on Facebook… I’ve already tried.) She left that kind of impression on you. She had a true gift of connecting you to your surroundings in that moment, and it was clear that she could ‘talk story’ as the Hawaiians say.
I’ve always wanted to see Pearl Harbor and am grateful that I got to experience it the way that I did, with my sweet boy and an unforgettable tour guide.
just a sampling of Pualani and her wild and precious personality
On a lighter note, the rest of the day was spent shopping and lounging around Waikiki Beach with my family, which I must say is absolutely gorgeous. Crowded, but gorgeous.
Oh, I almost forgot. I found a new toy… a KoAloha soprano ukulele. I like to call it my baby uke. She’s a beauty. So small and cute. It has such a full sound and I am enjoying it already!
Happy Fourth of July everyone! I hope everyone has a wonderful day today! Enjoy your holiday and celebrate all the freedom and opportunity that we have in this great nation! I will be back after we enjoy the holiday on the beach with fireworks from our balcony!
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