Featured image: Overlooking the beautiful Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii / Photo by twenty20photos on Envato
How Oahu showed my family how to heal
By Marion Broverman, Guest writer
Back when I was young and fairly unaware, I found out my first husband was having an affair with my best friend. I was 27 with two young children. Adultery was a new word for me.
I filed for divorce and custody. I lived and worked in a numb state for two years while this was going on. The courts granted me my divorce and full custody of my children. The settlement helped pay for my home and with a bit left over, I decided to run away with my family to Waikiki, Hawaii.
Not thinking very clearly, I chose to run away at Christmas in 1980. Packing up my kids and leaving -30-degree F (-22 C) weather for 29 F (85 C) weather seemed a good idea at the time. Here we were ages 27, 12 and 7 going our first adventure to another country together. Jason and Lisa were excited to be flying for the first time with Wardair.
Your current situation is not your final destination
I remember looking out of the little plane window thinking of my grandmother’s old saying: Your current situation is not your final destination. This carried me through the whole trip.
Views out an airplane window / Photo by viki2win on Envato
Marion’s kids Jason and Lisa
I planned things mostly with kids in mind. They wanted to touch the ocean for the first time, go snorkeling, visit a sea turtle farm, and see a volcano. The rest was up to me. We had 10 days to relax and enjoy the warmth of the December sun with Christmas Day as our last on the island.
We spent mornings getting up early and walking the Waikiki beach before the crowds showed up. I took the kids on tours of the Diamond Head volcano crater, Polynesian Culture Center, Dole Pineapple Plantation, and the Hilo Hattie store (they wanted to bring back treasures for their friends).
The Dole Plantation in Hawaii
Diamond Head volcano crater
The Polynesian Culture Center
From trouble in paradise to healing as a family
Around halfway through our trip, my young daughter told me she missed snow, Christmas trees, and her dad. I knew then that my kids were going through the numbness of not having their father around for the holidays. I couldn’t tell her he wasn’t ready to be with them either. In fact, he told me after the divorce papers came that he wanted to be in their lives…but maybe in a few months. Sigh. So hard. On all of us.
At the angst-ridden age of 12, my son was acting out. He rented four adult movies in our hotel room. He tried to get into a fight with some of the navy fleet on the beach because they were ogling my daughter with comments like “Come back and see me with your blond hair in 10 years.” Oy. It took me and the Waikiki police to calm Jason down. We bought him ice cream and explained that the soldiers were teasing. That’s how I knew my sweet, shy quiet boy was feeling the pain without his dad.
Here we were in Hawaii, 5,167 kilometres away from a home that was broken, with hearts that were broken. I decided to just let them vent, to love them, and to be and do whatever they wanted or needed. We snorkeled and laid on the beach making sand castles. We ate at an open-air McDonalds. We took a helicopter ride over the island, which they said was the best part of the whole trip.
I tried to get a small Christmas tree to celebrate the day, but no luck. Instead, we had a decorated pineapple in our room. It was just not the same. I promised the kids we would have a late Christmas and Hanukah when we got back home on December 27.
A pineapple decorated as a Christmas tree / Photo by rykov on Twenty20
They danced at the luau we attended on Christmas Eve, and they kept close to me. They told me it was okay. And when we finally got home to our familiar surroundings, our things, and our friends, it was okay. We had started a new nuclear family together – and survived our first holiday season as that family. We had loved and supported one another through our pain. We had started to heal together.
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What that trip taught me
- My children were more resilient than I realized: They knew we needed each other to get through an uncertain time.
- Being a single parent isn’t easy, but it isn’t a bad thing: I could make mistakes and survive them. I could also make brave choices that made all the difference to my kids.
- The best part of my marriage was my children: My marriage may have ended, but my children would be mine forever. I discovered that I was the cement that held us together as a family of three.
- You can grow up alongside your kids: Growing up together taught us what real love meant.
I have been back to Hawaii many times, to different islands, but I will always remember how I saw Oahu through the young eyes of my children, who are now 48 and 45. I’m proud of how they turned out – educated, loving, strong and community minded. I have learned to keep in touch with my grown children whenever I travel. Much as I discovered on that first trip as a family of three, they keep me grounded in my ideas of what I want to see, do and accomplish. In the future, I’d love to take my grandkids travelling to see the world through their eyes.
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