Hawaii Still on My Mind With the Obamas in the Picture This Time

by on February 4, 2019 · 3 comments

in From the Soul

Snapshot from a page in “Becoming.”

by Ernie McCray

I’ve been home for a while but I’ve still been reflecting on my recent trip to Hawaii, on, in part, how although I had a wonderful time I also had other things on my mind.

Like, I thought about my daughter, Debbie, who would have turned 61 on January 4th, one afternoon in the darkness of a Big Island porch with my mind going back and forth about a number of things, then, because it was such a beautiful day, I went on a little hike with Maria and Glen, our host and friend, and soon my mind, caught up in the beauty of the people with me and the beauty around me, was back to the nice place it had been before my moments of grief set in.

But my spiritual nature was very much alive on that trip, and it was intensified when I picked up the paper one day and read that Barack Obama was in town, Honolulu, his town, home, rapping with “future leaders” about what’s going down, continuing the kind of work he used to do in Chi-town, his eyes still on the prize after all these years.

Just knowing that he was in town when I was in town was as mesmerizing to me as Oahu’s startling natural wonders. I felt a close-ness with him.

Not to mention that, every now and then, on this vacation, I had my head stuck in “Becoming,” Michelle Obama’s hard to put down “best-selling hardcover book of the year.”

And that enhanced the bond I was already feeling with him. Then when I found out that his sister, Maya, was a friend of the Altwies/Chens, the family we were visiting, I felt as though that the Obamas were my “best friends forever.”

We have two things, especially, in common, as they have beautiful smart daughters and so do I, and they have worked tirelessly in behalf of children as have I…

I shared this connectedness I felt with such a royal family on my facebook timeline and what I wrote was passed on to Maya who thanked and sent her love to me, an action I now include among my precious memories…

Back to the book: It’s a blessing being alive and seeing Barack through Michelle’s eyes.

I like how she captures him beyond his politics, giving us a view of him as a human being in the raw, and how, in the process, she exposes the depths of who she is.

And she simply is one remarkably bright lovely woman who chose Barack as her man after being raised by exceptional parents who, from where they lived in the South Side of Chicago, loved and respected her enough to listen to her and provide her with opportunities to expand her great intellect and view of the world with the help of aunts and uncles and cousins and neighborhood friends who understood the value of community, of people supporting each other.

Such a background gave her a strong sense of what she wanted in life and she didn’t dare rush into things and after she had finished the first section of the book, “Becoming Me,” she launched into her relationship with the budding 44th President of the United States in “Becoming Us,” opening with: “AS SOON AS I ALLOWED MYSELF

TO FEEL ANYTHING for Barack, the feelings came rushing – a toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder. Any worries I’d been harboring about my life and career and even about Barack himself seemed to fall away with the first kiss, replaced by a driving need to know him better, to explore and experience everything about him as fast as I could.”

And overtime she couldn’t resist his great mind; his thirst for knowledge as he loves to read; his organizational skills and “stick-to-it-ive-ness” work ethic that didn’t allow him to give up without trying a range of problem solving options; the audacity of his hope as he seemingly rapidly went from city politics to state politics to the highest office in the land.

She wouldn’t have chosen him as a mate if he had been anything other than who he is: a loving and caring decent husband and father and citizen who spent most of his childhood years not too faraway from where Maria and I were staying in Honolulu.

A man who, like her, rose out of life circumstances that gave no hint that their portraits would someday land in the halls of the National Portrait Gallery in Wahington D.C.

Of those portraits the former First Lady writes in “Becoming More,” the last section of the book: “The paintings are lovely, but what matters most is that they’re there for young people to see – that our faces help dismantle the perception that in order to be enshrined in history, you have to look a certain way. If we belong, then so, too, can many others.”

With this kind of close encounter with the Obamas in Hawaii I’ll have to say this was a trip of a lifetime.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard M February 4, 2019 at 2:57 pm

Love your writings Ernie. You have a way of taking me along.


Toni Kaus February 6, 2019 at 7:53 pm

I particularly love this piece. Thanks for writing it.


Shirley Robinson Sprinkles February 8, 2019 at 10:06 am

Ernie, can you (of all people) understand how much I identify with Michelle’s memoir–Barack aside? Her history and journey feel so very familiar– different time, different place, but oh so similar–especially in affect. I’m nearly finished reading the book. Her writing is quite vivid–excellent!!


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