Hawaii on My Mind

by on January 29, 2019 · 3 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

Maria and I just got back from Hawaii, spending time with friends on the Big Island and Oahu.

In my mind I can still see the rich colors of the rain forests and feel the warm breeze that comforted me on a walk on the beach one day and I’ll always remember sitting high above a view that literally took my breath away…

I still shiver from the experience of riding in a car, looking to see what the Kilauea volcano had left in its wake, cruising by a couple of really nice homes, and suddenly a dead end appears and before me there stands a massive mound of lava a couple of stories high that had swallowed the rest of the neighborhood we were driving through…

And minutes later we’re walking on a new black sand beach the volcano had created, as if by design, complete with a nice little wading pool just right for little children.

Out of Mother Nature’s devastating acts, there’s such beauty.

It was all awe inspiring to say the least. But, it’s the people, our friends, and their friends, I will remember most about this trip.

On the Big Island, Hawaii, it was Gay and Glen. The Barfields. Givers to the world, Gay once a right hand person to Carl Rogers one of the founders of the

humanistic approach to psychology, a mentor to people in the field to this very day; Glen, a true renaissance man, an archer, an excellent cook, handy with his hands, known for the prized orchids he has grown, his neighbors’ best friend as his helping

hand is always extended. People wave at him and Gay from their cars and trucks as they pass their house.

Hanging out with them was just what my body and spirit needed as, although I was having a ton of fun, I lived with moments of grief every now and then, as one cannot lose two of his children and grin perpetually as though there isn’t a dark empty space within his being.

Their house just happens to be a great place to heal, with a dog named Gloria to pet, and wild chickens and pigs running through the yard, and wonderful people nearby building new lives, farming and creating businesses, people with whom we sat and ate and drank, and dissected the madness in D.C. and talked about good movies we’d seen or not seen like “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Then we were off to Honolulu to enjoy one of the most amazing families on the face of the earth, the Altwies, Maria’s friends from her college days, Jerry and Fran, and their daughter, Kristine, and her husband, Bruce Chen, and their children, Ava (age 13), Jai Jai (9 or 10), and Victor (14), and their dog, Inu, who thinks the neighborhood belongs to him and he will bark and yap to make that clear – although he’s no bigger than a nice sized kitten.

Being in the company of the Altwies/Chen family, as it was with the Barfields, was soothing to my soul. They are a conglomeration of intellectuals (all of them), gourmet cooks (nearly each one of them), retired Waldorf teachers (Jerry and Fran), actors and singers (Jerry and the kids), a practicing obstetrician (Bruce), athletes (the kids, and I saw Ava play some great beach volleyball in a tournament on the sands of Waikiki Beach, a highlight of my trip), and the executive director (Kristine) of Hawaii International Child, an adoption agency that has found families for thousands of children from countries like China, Vietnam and Russia.

Two of the children, Jai Jai, who reads every moment she can, and has an imagination with a wide span, and Victor, who practically listens to every word in every conversation he is privy to, are adoptees of Chinese descent. The stories of the circumstances leading to how they got from China to Hawaii would be the stuff of which movies are made. And those narratives are not mine to share except to say that Victor named himself, because a champion is how he sees himself. Did I say this family is special? I wonder if I’d be Ernie if I had named myself.

I love how at supper time they hold hands around the table and sing:

“Blessings on the blossom
Blessings on the fruit
Blessings on the leaf and stem
Blessings on the root
Have a happy dinner time”

Then everybody feasts on some of the best tasting food around. Just like at Gay and Glen’s house.

All this to say, we had a very good time with dear friends who are as beautiful as the islands they call home – places where Maria and I feel very much at home.

Because of them Hawaii will always be on my mind.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzi January 30, 2019 at 7:07 am

Beautifully written Ernie! Makes me want to visit the islands again, especially Kauai


Toby January 30, 2019 at 1:48 pm

So happy you and Maria enjoyed your visit with friends in HawaiI. The personalities of your friends complements the beauty and wonder of Hawaii. Thank you for sharing your experiences visiting loving friends who live in a tropical paradise.


Thomas Gayton January 30, 2019 at 9:25 pm



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