As I sit here eating breakfast on the patio of “The Fairmont Hotel” in Kona Hawaii, I begin to think about the past few days. When you hear people describe Hawaii as a magical place, it is difficult to understand until you have experienced it. Disneyland is magical, but time in Hawaii can be life altering. If you can quiet your mind and allow yourself to let go of your worries, even just for a second, it is hard not to reassess your path in life.
My adventure to a beach in the Pacific Ocean began with an award, “The Bakken Invitation”. Being picked as one of the ten Honorees, out of almost 300 nominees, I had already felt like someone made a mistake. Maybe at the headquarters of Medtronic in Minneapolis, my application got put into the wrong pile of papers, but I wasn’t going to point out the error…. I mean really… we are talking about Hawaii here…. don’t judge me.
On the first night, we had a welcome reception where I would have the opportunity to meet the other nine honorees. One by one, I listened to their stories. From medical challenges such as Diabetes, Cardiac Arrest, Chronic Pain, Cerebral Palsy and Spinal Cord Injury they took their pain and gave back to others. Creating programs that educate children about diabetes, train service dogs for injured Vets, HIV prevention for women and children, mentoring children about school violence and unethical behavior, advocates for those that do not have access to medical care, alleviating poverty in refugee camps, supportive camps for young people with heart disease and educational programs for patients. One woman was the sole survivor of an automobile accident that left her paralyzed, surviving almost a day in the Wyoming Mountains, with only a friendly chipmunk to keep her going. All right, so now I feel a little guilty for not pointing out the clerical error of picking the wrong person.
The unbelievable staff of Medtronic spared no expense to assure that the honorees and their guests enjoyed their stay. Nothing was overlooked. We all stayed on the “Gold” floor, which meant that our every wish was attended to. Fresh juice when we arrived, swag bag full of Hawaiian goodies waiting on our bed and a beautiful resort that made it easy to forget the world you had left behind. After the reception, my parents (who were my guests) were exhausted, so we decided to go up to the room. The lights had been dimmed and our beds were ready to slip into, but I was too awake and excited to go to sleep.
Sharing a room with my parents is, shall we say, interesting. It is 8:25pm when we get back to the room, and my Dad has begun his nighttime ritual, which involves brushing his teeth. I say, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa…. You’re not going to bed this early…. We are on vacation and I am not tired.” My Dad just smirks as he begins to turn off the lights. Then I notice my mom is already under the covers, staring at the glow of her iPad. I decided I had some work to do on the computer, I could just keep busy, but little did I know that the moment my Dad’s head hits the pillow, he is snoring. And not like a cute little puppy dog curled in a ball, snoozing away. We are talking like a Yeti with a head cold and then only thing I can think of is the fact that if I smother him with a pillow, it might drowned out the noise, but then I have the inconvenient task of disposing a body and I am just not knowledgeable of the local Hawaiian terrain. So I gather my belongings, and go to the lounge. On my way down the hotel hallway, I think to myself, “The award winning honoree is getting kicked out of her luxurious resort room…. Something doesn’t seem right in the world.”
The next morning, somehow surviving waking up to see my Mom scurrying around in granny panties, (an image that will be forever burned into my brain) we go to the gold floor lounge for breakfast. If you want to know what royalty feels like, just have your own private waitress, every kind of breakfast food you could want and every type of fresh fruit you could think of. Hawaii has ruined pineapple for me; it will never taste the same. But one item that I will forever miss is the macadamia nut sticky bun. That bun changed my life. I know I will never find another sticky bun that makes me so happy and satisfied. I almost feel like sending it little forget-me-not notes, just so when one day, when we are reunited, that sticky bun will remember me.
The gang was to meet in the lobby at 8:30am. We loaded onto the tour vans to begin an adventure but none of us were completely sure of what the day would entail, something about working on a canoe? Ummmm, I am an award winner on a vacation… Oh shoot! I feel entitled! The gold floor has gotten to me! Little did I know that my whole view of life was about to change when I meet the crew of Makalii and Uncle Chadd.