Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"No Leis for Me"

My mother arrived in Honolulu, early Sunday morning. I had invited her over because we were stuck with a 2-bedroom condo for the month and the DogFather was only going to be here for two weeks.

"I'll think about it," she said when I called to ask if she might want to come. It wasn't a "Sure! That sounds great!" or "No, I've got other things I need to do this month" but a noncommittal "I'll think about it."

I know what she was thinking. After all, she is my mother. She was thinking "Gee, I've already been to Hawaii and things have changed so much since I was there in the 60's I don't know if I want to go back, plus I won't be able to go to my weekly physical therapy sessions and I'll have to eat boring Western style meals and what about flying alone? And what if something happens to me physically? I'm not young and genki anymore…but it'll be so noisy here after the Pupster gets out of kindergarten for spring break, and most of all, what if I don't go and something happens to Bad Dog and I never see her again?"

Our family always thinks of these kinds of What Ifs. Scars from the untimely death (when is death ever timely?!) of my father more than 30 years ago.

After a couple of nagging emails, she finally told me that she was going to accept my invitation and come to Hawaii.

It was the first time she was traveling overseas by herself and I knew she was a little anxious about going through immigration and customs by herself, not to mention getting to the airport, checking in, finding the gate and putting up with the flight. "I better get to the airport early," I thought. "Better for me to wait than for her to show up and have no one there. Maybe I'll buy a pretty lei for her so I can give her the traditional Hawaiian welcome." I spent days pricing leis at various shops around town. (Best variety, prices, quality in Chinatown, for sure!) In the end, however, I wound up not having any time before Sunday and I went to the airport without a lei.

I got there about 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival of my mother's flight, but she was already there! Waiting outside the baggage claim area, looking none too happy.

"I've been waiting 40 minutes!" she complained.
"40 minutes? When did your flight arrive?"
"Okay, maybe not 40. But 30, for sure."
I knew then that it was probably closer to 15.
"I thought you'd be here to greet me when I walked out."
"I'm so sorry you had to wait!" I didn't mention the missing lei.

Well, today, we were strolling through Chinatown, after a very yummy dim sum lunch, past a florist with beautiful leis hanging in glass cases. The cheapest ones were $1.

"Aren't they pretty?" I asked my mother.
"Those leis. And they're so cheap!"
"You think?"
"Yeah. Other places sell them for $5 and up. I was going to get one for you, when you arrived."
"That's stupid. $5-6? They're just a bunch of dead flowers on a string. I'm glad you didn't waste your money like that."

That's my Mom. Ever the unromantic realist.


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