Being single felt strange. I was working hard all year selling my nutritional products and finding others that wanted their own business. My entire group was doing great! Upon notification that I would be going on an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii, I was excited! I could take my husband or a child under 18. Well, with no husband and both children over 18, I responded, “Yes, and I will be traveling alone.”
When I arrived in Honolulu, the day was beautiful. The 5-star hotel was on the beach, and it was gorgeous. I found myself to be one of the only single persons at this gathering for the week. One day there were no tours or meetings to attend. I went exploring by myself.
I saw a large group in chairs where entertainment was taking place. I walked to the spot, found a seat, and became enthralled with a presentation and dance being performed by a good-looking young man that appeared to be in his mid to late twenties. He had the most amazing tattoos of beautiful colors! I am not a fan of tattoos, but they were so different.
Following the performance, I walked up to him to say, “thank you for being a part of this fantastic afternoon, and I loved your performance.” I also told him that I was impressed with his tattoos and asked him if he was Hawaiian. He replied, “I am Samoan. Then he began explaining to me about his tattoos. It took a long time to complete them.” He shared that he was from a “traditional” family and that his Uncle did his tattoos. I learned about the table it was done on, how it was done, everything.
It was a rite of passage for a young man to acquire his traditional tattoos. Each one had its importance. His uncle did his. The young man is allowed to take nothing, and it is a painful procedure. One can only handle it for a while and then must stop. It is also a bloody procedure. At this point, he asked me where I was from and turned the conversation to me and my life. I shared. Next, I complimented the crown he was wearing while performing, and said I wondered if he knew a store where I might buy one to wear for tonight’s evening event I was to attend. I shared that it matched my dress, and I was hoping to find one like it.
He smiled and kindly told me that it was sacred, or he would let me have his. I said that was not my intent. He also explained that he might have to get permission for me to wear it. We visited a little more, and I began heading towards the Hotel. I have no idea what happened or what I said that caused him to yell, “Stop.” I looked back, and he said, “Wait! I want you to wear this tonight!” Now I was confused, but we walked towards each other. The Samoan removed it from his head and put it on mine.
We made arrangements for me to meet him in the morning to return it. Due to his conversation with me, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and handled it carefully, very carefully. The following morning, we met. He had a woman with him. I introduced myself to her and told her how much I appreciated wearing this sacred handmade crown. I handed it to him, and he held it out to me again. He said that he wanted me to have it. I knew something out of the normal was happening, but why would he let me have it?
I did bring it back to Oklahoma with me and kept it in a glass case where everyone could see it as they entered my house in Norman. Then one day, a friend and her three-year-old daughter came over. When Sally and I were talking, her daughter was quiet. As she left, I walked her to the door. The handmade crown was all over the floor. Her daughter opened the door herself and reached it. Little did the mother or daughter know that it was something I cherished. I kept remembering that stuff, no matter how valuable, is not as important as a relationship. Don dying and the fire in our house taught me that. And perhaps it was time for it to go.
LESSON: Honor, respect, and kindness bring blessings. Stay aware of God’s gifts of special moments, and be grateful. It is good to talk to people when there is something positive you want to tell them.
GIFT: I learned about another culture, a tiny bit about his traditional ways, and the kindness of a young man I just met. He represented to me other Samoans I might have the opportunity to meet in the future. Remembering him, I attempt to be kind and respectful to those from another country even if they seem irritated with us in the United States. Perhaps they might think we are all, or at least some of us, are like that! And life gets a little better!
GREAT GIFT THAT JUST CAME TO ME! For years, I wondered why I asked a Native American man that you will learn about later in my blog, “Do you practice your traditional ways?” I could not figure out where that statement came from. Now I understand. The Samoan said more than I could put in this blog. He explained how important “traditional ways” passed from generation to the next generation, ancient ways, are! The Native American reminded me of the Samoan and the Samoan reminded me of the Native Americans I met on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico and many of the Native Americans we met while on the ski patrol. They worked at the ski area.