I never thought I would miss having chickens hang out around my feet.
But I believe the Hawaiian countryside has grown on me.
And even on my city slickin’ kids.
Yes, it’ll be good to have some relief from these horrific mosquito bites, but I’m sad to go.
Actually, when we first walked into this beach house, my mom was praying we would all make it out alive … we expected a bug or two, but what we saw upon entering was unbelievable.
Our rental was dirtier, more neglected, more mold infested, more broken than it appeared on the Lavish Getaway website. Funny how it works that way, how they failed to post a picture of that giant crack in the bedroom wall.
There was a quiet tension amongst the family. Are we really going to live here for a while?
It was tempting to see if we could manage some reservations in the city where there was at least some civilization and pillows without yellow stains and a stench hard to put into words (exact words from my sister who was unfortunately plagued with the aforementioned room).
“Well this is island country life,” my dad said simply with a shrug of his shoulders.
And he would know.
My dad grew up here — not in this rental house– but right on these very unpaved roads and rustic beaches that my kids have played on and splashed in all week.
And now that I think of it…it’s nothing short of beautiful to think that my kids got to live a bit of their heritage this summer.
My dad, five foot seven, slim framed, wears his tan all year round.
He was born in the northern country side of Oahu seventy some years ago, the youngest boy of eight brothers and sisters, to a Japanese picture bride and a humble watermelon farmer.
Eventually, he moved to the mainland, to a city far from the watermelon fields, married my mom, and they had three kids.
But some things never change.
My dad will always be a simple Hawaiian country boy at heart.
One who climbed the Koolau foothills, ate nothing but eggplants, tomatoes, pickled vegetables, and loads of fish … and Hawaiian steak, also affectionately known as Spam.
One who worked hard — sweating in the farm fields by eight and driving a tractor by ten.
One who will always be more at home in slippers, sun beating against bare arms and legs.
One who will always be happy with simple things.
But his grandkids live such a different life — walking on endless pavement in laced up shoes with padded insoles, in shoes that light up.
And up until last week, they’ve known so little of the old Hawaiian countryside …
They’ve been so far removed from the “charm” of geckos racing across the walls in their showers, cockroaches near their bedsides, mildew sprawled on the windows, floors that never quite feel clean.
Staying here in this musty, tired beach house has not been for the fussy.
But being here has turned out to be just what our kids needed.
They needed to feel sticky, dirty, sand in every nook and cranny …
They needed to learn to wake up and go to sleep to nothing but the sound of the waves, the coaxing of the sunrise, and the shades of sunset.
Their feet needed to toughen with rocks, pebbles and sand underfoot …
They needed to turn off their video games, and see the lands where their great grandfather grew watermelons, once sashed with county fair pride …
… and to hear the stories of their truly humble immigrant heritage, of how their great grandparents toiled in a way they will never have to toil …
and sacrificed in ways they will never have to sacrifice.
And to be reminded that NOTHING is free — every freedom, every privilege, every light up shoe has been bought with a price.
And that fancy isn’t always best.
The latest isn’t always the greatest.
And sophistication can still be found in the slipper wearing, weathered faces, broken English of generations gone before.
And that having less stuff is sometimes a chance to appreciate more.
It took some wave riding, crab chasing, tree hitting, sand digging, fort building …
to remind them how much they loved being together …
… making sticky, messy, imperfect, laughable memories that’ll one day become the stories passed on to generations who’ll live differently too.
“Aww, can’t we just drag this beach home?” asked my eight year old.
Unfortunately no … but we’ll always have the pictures, the memories, and for now, a tan just like grandpa’s …
… and oh yeah, probably some bedbugs in our suitcases, too.
But all worth it!
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~ Psalm 19:1