When my husband, Art left Hawaii to attend a university in Peoria, Illinois, he was eager for the adventure. He did not return to Hawaii for his entire college career because it was just too expensive. I imagine he must have been lonely at times although he says he relished the challenges.
There was a family near the university who recognized the special difficulties of students so far away from home. They began inviting international students to their home for weekend dinners. Art (yes, they knew Hawaii was not a foreign country) was coaxed to go and found a husband, wife and their daughter, Sharon who loved people from around the world and wanted everyone to be part of their loving family.
When we moved to Chicago, they asked us to stop by when we were in Springfield. That didn't happen for many years as we were busy with our own family responsibilities and never made that journey down south. However, when we got the call to please come, we did.
On that first visit, I was impressed and touched by the loving embrace of friendship that they immediately extended toward me, Art's wife. Sharon had married Gene, a minister who is the most liberal minister I've ever met. He is always respectful of other religions and accepts everybody's right to believe as they do. I guess it made sense that Sharon would marry a minister like that.
There were many visits to Springfield from that time on with other international friends from Burma and Japan.
When we told them that we would be moving to Hawaii, a plan was hatched to have everybody come for a week long stay at our home. Sharon looked forward to seeing Hawaii again and introducing Gene to the islands.
However, suddenly, ruthlessly fate stepped in and snatched Sharon from us. We learned last year that she'd had a stroke. We waited for every piece of news and thought she would be out of the hospital with the next phone call. It was not to be. In less than two weeks, she was gone.
We stopped to see Gene on our way to Hawaii. I kept expecting Sharon to come walking out of her kitchen with her always amazing culinary concoctions. I could almost hear her laughter echoing in the Japanese garden that she, her mom and Gene had cultivated for many years.
Then our friend from Tokyo proposed a plan to have us all get together at our house with Gene. Gene said he was game. Plans were made. Tickets were bought.
Fate stepped in again. Gene was stricken with a brain ailment and is still under a doctor's care. He will not be able to make the trip but says he still wants to come later. I hope so.
Meanwhile... our friends from Burma and Japan will arrive tomorrow and Monday. We'll have a wonderful get-together all the while holding Sharon's memory in our hearts. Wouldn't it be truly paradise if this world could have more people like Sharon, Gene and her parents?
I won't be able to do much blogging this coming week but I'll be thinking of you.