In 1974 I got a phone call that shattered my world…”Hello, is this Tina’s sister?” “yes”. “Well, she’s been in an accident, I think she’s dead.” Then, the silence of a phone caller hanging up.
I will never forget that day or the feeling of panic in my soul.
My sister was special. I know everyone thinks their siblings are special, but she was way above and beyond the normal special. She was exuberant about life. When I was ten and she was seven we got our first horse. I was the horse crazy kid but Tina climbed aboard as if born to ride. The horse bucked me off every day. She knew how to talk to horses and was never airborne. I just didn’t know the language as she did. Her amazing talent blossomed and she became a champion competitor in our area, after a few years was competing at the state level where she became a champion. When at age 18 and 15 we moved to Hawaii she continued her winning ways with the horse we shipped over along with eleven big “Beacon” shipping boxes of trophies that my Mom and Dad were reluctant to part with.
Along the way, she moved to Maui and began training horses for the Haku Baldwin Ranch. She loved her job. And, she took up the sport of hang-gliding. She chose the color of her kite to match the colors of Maui…blue for the sky, purple for the proliferation of Jacaranda trees and the green of the leaves. She became adept at this sport as she was in anything she tried–tennis, surfing, riding.
What happened that day I’ll never know nor do I think I ever want to know the details. Maybe it was a rogue wind, maybe a failure of equipment or maybe just really bad luck. But, I lost her.
A few months later, I moved to the big island of Hawai’i. Now, after 38 years, I am back on Maui and I see my sister everywhere. When I drive to hula I pass the Haku Baldwin Training Center. Jacaranda trees are everywhere–purple and green against the blue sky. I went picnicking to Polipoli Park on the high side of Haleakala and passed the flight initiation platform for the hang-gliding enthusiasts and where we scattered my sister’s ashes. I see her in the horses that live down the street. It has been 39 years since her passing and it still feels like yesterday. I know that time heals and the wounds of my loss have scarred over, but time hasn’t diminished the feelings of love, pride, and the joy of sharing my life with her.