I love remembering Mrs. Lamb, my grade one school teacher. Every morning she would sing this to us, “Good morning to you, good morning to you. We’re all in our places with bright shiny faces, now this is the way to start a new day.” She made me feel special.
I have many teachers who changed the course of my life. Mrs. Lamb did it with such grace, love and wisdom. And she did it with such simplicity considering the times, circa 1964.
I had little to be proud of in my elementary school days and what I wanted to share about my family during ‘show and tell’ was strictly off limits. I already knew I was not supposed to share family secrets.
I wonder how so many adults in my life were clueless to the impact of the antics that went on in the Dolan household. Alcoholism, violence, poverty and neglect had to have been so evident in my behavior as well as that of my siblings. Yet no one said a word. The sixties were a time when being a good neighbour meant minding your own business.
School became a safe haven for me. I loved being there, staying there for lunch and making sure I took my sweet time walking home after the final school bell rang. The consensus by my family was that school wasn’t all that special. No one ever praised my progress at St. Peter’s.
Besides the daily singing by Mrs. Lamb, she always encouraged us to share our dreams. This was particularly hard for me because there was no one in my family that had any dreams or, at least if they did, had the courage to share them.
With some gentle, loving encouragement and, as I reflect, not one ounce of shame, Mrs. Lamb sat fascinated as I shared with the class my dream of one day living in Hawaii.
I knew nothing of Hawaii and, as a child of a welfare family, the last thing I was supposed to have was an idea that one day I’d like to live there.
Yet as I remember the innocence of sharing my dream, what readily comes to mind is a question Mrs. Lamb had for me, “Tommy, what do you imagine the people of Hawaii to be like?” she asked.
“I think they are friendly. They smile a lot. They have no snow to make them cold and they get to play in the ocean all the time.” My classmates laughed. Mrs. Lamb said, “I think you’re right. I think they are lovely people.”
For some odd reason that day I told my Mom about the dream I shared. Her response was simply, “Yes dear. Where the hell is Hawaii?”. Needless to say the sharing ended promptly.
In junior high, at the same school, a boy named Francisco, from Spain, joined my class. His parents moved all over the world and one day, during recess, he shared that his family was going to Hawaii for Christmas. He told me he’d bring back a t-shirt for me. I was in awe of him and couldn’t wait for school to start after the Christmas break, in 1971.
Sure enough he brought back a t-shirt with a large Hawaii #71 emblazoned across the chest. I was in heaven.
The response at home wasn’t all that enthusiastic. First of all I was reminded I’d never live there and, secondly, everyone laughed because #71 was a number that did not correspond to any Calgary Stampeder football star my family liked. I don’t think I ever wore that t-shirt.
In high school, I met many friends who had been to Hawaii. In fact, I fell in love with a young man who would go to Hawaii twice a year with his family. He was kind enough to bring puka shells back for me.
My high school football coach would ask me to watch his condo while he and his wife, with a group of friends, would jet off to Hawaii. I remember sitting in awe watching Super 8 movies of Hawaiian people they had filmed who smiled a lot, played in the ocean and whom I was sure had never experienced snow.
It wasn’t until my university days that I began to notice this pattern of being surrounded by the energy of Hawaii. Yet I was still too unconscious to get a sense of what I was setting myself up for.
In 1984, I finally made it to Hawaii, the island of Maui to be exact, for my honeymoon. It was then I began to feel the island call out to me. I literally felt a pull to live there.
Fast forward nearly 9 years later, I had come out, and the call from Maui was still incessant. On a scouting trip to Maui in 1993, the island opened up for me and I was able to spend nearly a year living there. In that year I learned to listen to my intuition. I called my time there, while journalling, “A Year of Listening”.
While meditating on the beach one morning in 1995, I heard a whisper to leave the island and go to Vancouver. I knew no one there, but I had learned to listen, so off I went.
From 1995 to 2015, I built an amazing life in Vancouver. The bounty of people, opportunities, lessons and love were unimaginable. My time there was balanced with many visits to Hawaii.
In 2009, I chose to close down a highly successful consulting business as, again, a whisper beckoned me back to Maui. A colleague asked, “So what’s waiting for you on Maui?” I responded only with, “There is something there for me.” So off I went for a month.
On June 5th, having been there for a week, I stopped by Little Beach. I had just finished a long walking meditation I had been taught by a Buddhist monk. I was tired and laid down for a rest.
After what seemed like hours of rest, I was stirred and awakened by an energy directly in front of me. My sleepy eyes opened to the glare of the sunlight off the ocean and I watched as a man walked gently across my path. I remember thinking, “Oh I didn’t know there were others on the beach.” Back to sleep I went.
Shortly thereafter, I again felt the same energy, this time to my right. As I turned to look up, I could sense this same man looking down at me. Having lived on the island I had learned that if my eyes connected with another person’s eyes I was to go over and say hello. So that I did.
He introduced himself as Adam. We had an amazing twenty minute conversation and then he left to celebrate his birthday. He lived in Honolulu.
For the next 6 years, I would travel between Vancouver and Honolulu falling deeper in love with Adam on every trip.
On February 20th, 2015, we were married. On December 8th, 2015, I moved to Honolulu. Two weeks ago we submitted my application for permanent residency to live in the United States, specifically Hawaii.
I never stopped listening to the whispers that have me here today. And, at its epicenter, is Mrs. Lamb, who kindly held my elementary school intention to, one day, live in Hawaii.