...it is quite prominent in my memory.
In August of 1984, the company which bought out the insurance organization at which I'd been employed for 9 years, bought out the last 19 months of my contract and sent me home.
With a really nice paycheck.
The first thing we did was bide our time for a month or so, awaiting the birth of our grandson, Matthew. That was too good to miss, so we stayed right here.
The next thing we did was to plan a real vacation. Our vacations, with our kids, had been limited to visiting relatives, pretty much since we'd been married. Like 25+ years. But then, with Matthew here, home & healthy, Peg and I decided we'd go on a real vacation.
A good friend in California told me about a real deal on week-long vacations to Oahu, departing Los Angeles, and we immediately grabbed one. Plus, I had accumulated enough Frequent Flier miles to get us to & from L.A., so for a week-long stay at the New Otani Kaimana Beach hotel in Waikiki, we had us a killer deal.
The hotel was a dream. It was just a mile from the Eastern end of Waikiki, at the far end of Kapiolani Park. That's the place where the Kodak Hula Show was held (we did attend, but it has since been discontinued).
Our room's balcony overlooked Diamond head and the end of the Park, and the hotel restaurant was my favorite-ever restaurant.
The restaurant is worthy of explanation. It was the Hau Tree Lanai, and it was separated from the beach by a 3' tall ornate concrete railing. On the hotel side, it bordered the open lobby, and the restaurant's only light was Tiki Torches on the railing, and Christmas tree lights all through the Hau Tree, which spread out and formed the only ceiling of the restaurant.
Every evening, we'd sit there just before sundown and watch the sun sink into the Pacific, and see the "Dinner Cruise" boats drifting offshore. It was by far the most beautiful natural scenery I have ever personally seen.
We did the other stuff tourists do, including an hour-long sailplane ride for yours truly. Which I video'd, yes I did, the WHOLE thing!
On Sunday, we went to the Pearl Harbor Visitor's Center. As we learned, it's closed on Sunday, but the building itself was in two halves, and the patio between was open to the waterfront, so we walked on down and sat on a bench directly across from the Arizona Memorial.
It was breathtaking. I recalled WWII, and sitting there looking at the Waianae Mountains, thinking that's where the Japanese airplanes flew, to attack the fleet and the aircraft, on that peaceful Sunday morning. I was simply mesmerized.
The next day, we came back to see the Memorial. It, too, was unforgettable. The film was inspiring, the memorial itself was awesome .. and I mean it inspired real awe ... but the highlight, for me, was talking to a volunteer there.
He was a vet and had been there December 7, 1941. To speak with a Pearl Harbor Veteran was, in itself, an unforgettable experience. But the big part was what he told me.
He'd been sick and in the infirmary that morning. The building was marked with a huge red cross, and located on the ocean end of the harbor . He was standing at the window when he heard the first action, and he saw a Japanese airplane that had been hit by anti-aircraft fire. It was trailing smoke & flames, and headed straight for the infirmary. Where he was standing.
He told me that, as the plane approached the building, the pilot made an obvious maneuver to miss the building. He said it passed so close that he could see the face of the pilot. Who had intentionally maneuvered to miss the hospital.
He said it suddenly put a whole different light on the attack and the attackers. Now, I don't know if I would have had any feelings of benevolence toward the attackers, but he did.
And he was there.
I think the Christian community could use a dose of whatever he had. We seem to attach motives and feelings to others, that we think we'd have were we in their shoes.
Sometimes we even do that with God.
In the end, we're not in their shoes, and we're certainly not God. Any more than we were standing at the infirmary window on December 7, 1941.