Defining moments in our lives are carved in the air to stand as tall as statues. They are the pillars in our gardens. They remind us of who we became because of them. They call to us in spirit when we have nowhere else to go, and their friendship never ends. Each conversation is a beginning. Each farewell reassures a reunion. It is an ever flowing stream.
Friends have a voice that when heard it’s a song. We can dance to its beat because we know it. We are at ease. Annabeth Miguel Sayles sat at the school’s office on the first day of her new job, answering the phone, looking through papers, and wearing a smile with an uncertain confidence. She was the lone warrior at Horizon’s Academy in Haiku, and many were glad she could muster what it took to do the job so sorely needed to be fulfilled. She looked like a Precious Moments Angel figurine.
She took to the helm ever so grateful to make do as a widow, a Mom of two adult children, and a grandma of three. As I recall, there had been a shift in administration. She amazingly orchestrated all that was needed even in delivering successful fundraisers held on a golf course on the West Maui Mountains in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Marilyn Monroe. Getting along with everybody that came along required composure, tenacity, and a sense of humor. Parents, teachers, administrators, aids, and students all passed by her and needed her for this or that, and she answered and took care to see that all was done and completed. She stayed long hours. Her elegance was prime.
In the midst of school functions, we discovered in conversation a mutual torch: being preachers’ daughters. I think we both said simultaneously now that is funny ! Something about her natural beauty, her stately humility, her steadfast faith, her sincere devotion to family, her admirable strength of spirit, her common sense, and her discreet attention to the needs of others, set her apart. Her character qualities are imprinted on a solid marble like presence in attendance in my life. The details of cruelties she endured are locked in a room of confessions in the heart of hearts. We got it from our fathers who prayed to Our Father. We were cemented.
One year Annabeth’s dad visited from Oahu and I heard them laughing coming up the steps of the Polynesian pole home. This handsome soft spoken preacher conversed with my mother though neither understood the other. The meal was good to cover us all through desert. We laughed. We prayed. We shared stories… There were always more to tell. Her childhood, his parishes, her sisters, and mother… Church stories always have a bend. As preachers’ daughters, we had an altar to attend. Once I attended her church in Hailemaile; many times our sacred place was in either one of our gardens, and today I pray her favorite Iris’ are in bloom…
Looking back, and at the present, I know I can step into the future by a gentle turn of the wrist, like a twisting kaleidoscope, to remember, absorb, and project the defining moments. She remains predictably aware of people’s circumstances. She discreetly bows to sorrow, and firmly believes in the power of prayer. Her brilliance steps with the stars that linger even after dark because she always has time to be present when needed. That’s her gift. I learned from her common sense, her dedication to tasks, her hidden talents of sewing, knitting, foot massages, and most of all, how I can too now walk taller for being stoic when feeling beaten by disappointments. Annabeth never wished to take credit. Her credit was and is and will be with our Lord. The rest is foreign.
It was an honor and a pleasure to celebrate her birthday with a party attended by friends she wished to thank for holding her close during life’s storms. Changes come with the tides… and when Annabeth met Rod at work, she glowed by his attention. Soon thereafter it seemed just natural they be married. The wedding ceremony took place in our gazebo and the experience was borderline divine. The day was nearly perfect as it is mostly that way in Kula, and it corresponded with my cousin from Germany’s visit. Holidays were better when Annabeth joined us. She wiggled into the kitchen, and she delighted to be a part of our family. Sometimes she came with her grandchildren.
Their Dad had been emotionally wounded at an early age by witnessing his father’s disappearance as a huge wave overtook him on Thanksgiving Day. Tides are moved my the moon to retrieve. This passed Christmas Eve her son Graden’s motorcycle collided with a vehicle at the foot of Pulehuiki leading upwards to her home. Returning home herself, she came upon the scene and was rerouted re-routed a half hour before her daughter and Graden’s girlfriend called her. The quiet returns. His children were flown from the Big Island to Queen’s Hospital on Oahu because Graden had been transported by helicopter from Maui Memorial. The daunting details are chiseled in the marble like statue of a lady of sensible, sensitive, pure soul longings. Graden went “home” to be with his Dad a week later. The somber holidays in her life are sobering.
How does she do it? Now even a great-grandmother whose arms have outstretched to the heavens to hold the family together in prayer, Annabeth carries on with Aloha.
Her composure and weakened voice struck like a chisel on the marble. I hold another coincidence. It was a true find at our Serenity Used Books and Gifts in Hemphill, Texas, a Zondervan Bible, much like my cherished own. I purchased it with no one in mind until looking on the inside. The name of the original recipient is Graden. That’s how I knew who was meant to receive it. Ironically, Annabeth’s grandkids want a Bible as they had misplaced theirs upon leaving to live with their mother on the Big Island. In the process of moving the unexpected losses are eventually retuned. The journeys in life have so many hills to be climbed and valleys to explore. We walk by faith because tomorrow’s daylight awakens us to teach and learn as we go.
The fact is, Annabeth makes time a present. In fact, there was never a time she did not have the time to be near when needed. She remains an encourager. Somehow, she woke in me the “can do” attitude she pressed. As I write, I hear her laughing. My delight in painting murals came from her direction. She called me “Missy”. “I can take you to the airport”… ” Here are nine Pink Mink Proteas, take them with you to Bunica’s funeral.” I placed one with my Mom in the casket. The rest were given to the sisters. I flew back on United alone with my Mom too being transported for the burial at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. Annabeth’s spirit was also present.
How can I reach across the vast ocean? Is there any greater power than to ask God to have mercy? Annabeth, the preacher’s daughter who brought to my attention scriptures she recited, is a friend like no other. Each friendship has its story. Imagine my bliss in the company of the three uniquely fabulous lady friends.
“And we know that God works all things together for the good
of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” __ Romans 8:28