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This is a question Beautiful Moments

The best night of my life was spent lying in the bottom of a boat, floating down a river low enough to be under the thin layer of mist gathering at about 3am such that it scudded between me and the stars.

Make us feel all warm and fluffy. Tell us about the most beautiful moments in your life so far.

(, Fri 11 Mar 2005, 9:15)
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My last sunset with mom.
Shortly after my father died, my mother bought, remodeled and moved into a small house in the lower Kula region of Maui. I visited her there as often as I could in her later years, sometimes even managing three visits a year when finances allowed (I live about 5,000 miles away). It's surrounded by cabbage farms and has a low porch running along three sides of the dwelling. The small barn on the property has been turned into a garage with a compact living space set up in the rafters, making for a great way to visit the islands on the cheap: airfare plus about $60 a week for food and fuel makes visiting paradise easy on the wallet. Mornings there are wonderful, especially if I wake early enough to catch the mountain's shadow recede across the ocean and up the mountainside. However, it is the sunsets which are really what mom's place has been made for. Beachfront property might have all the sex appeal in the real estate market but the small group of islanders who live up on the slopes of Haleakala know where the real value is.

As the afternoon turned into evening my mother would sit near one corner of the porch gazing down the mountain towards the south coast of the island. As the sun approached the horizon it would become a bright red orb, casting washes of crimson light across the ocean and the central valley. If there were clouds in that direction, they would break up and scatter the sun's rays into shafts pointing into the darkening sky. Sometimes when the volcano had erupted on Hawai'i a particulate cloud would increase the density of the air around the islands, leading to an even darker red sunset. On evenings when there were numerous clouds above, the entire sky would be painted with a gorgeous palette of shifting red, pink, orange and purple hues. When the skies were clear there was just the sun and a long, glittering reflection across the water, making sparkles dance on the back of your eyes long after you had shut them against the pain of staring directly towards the spectacle. We would sit there as the cool air blew down from the upper slopes towards the sea and bask in the wonderful temperature differential as the warmth from the setting sun offset the cool, moist mountain air caressing our backs. For those who know when and how to look for it, as the sun's glowing orb disappears into the sea, for a moment the water's edge is lit up with a bright green glow: the legendary "green flash" of ocean sunsets. The show would continue for long minutes afterwards until we finally headed back inside her glass belted house, the better to keep looking outside from. It was moments like that which kept me coming back as often as I could during her final years of life.

Mother passed away in the spring of 2004. I rushed back as quickly as I could manage and arrived a few hours before final preparations had been made to take her to the crematorium. As the workers began to wheel her around the porch for her final journey down the mountain I noticed the sun had begun to set and asked them for one small indulgence. As the sun was beginning its descent into the horizon, we lowered the foot of the gurney, uncovered her head and let the warm red glow bathe her face one final time.

I never, ever questioned you when you said it, mom: you truly could not have picked a better place to die.

Thank you for your time.

p.s. My idiot brothers now want the estate company to sell the property as part of the settlement: all they can do is smell the money. I have no idea precisely how I can manage it but I am going to have that house for my own, regardless of their short sighted behavior. They can have their piles of money: I'll take the sunset.
(, Wed 16 Mar 2005, 15:09, closed)

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