While my family has been blessed to take some extraordinary vacations across the United States, the most emotional trip I have taken was to the Big Island of Hawaii. My grandparents made all the arrangements to fly my family, my three cousins, aunt and uncle, and themselves to Hawaii as Christmas present. Approximately one week before we left my grandfather was diagnosed with nodular melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. My grandfather contemplated staying behind, but we knew he would not be able to see a doctor until we returned, and we eventually were able to convince him to join us. We packed our bags and set off for Hawaii on December 28, 2007. Even though my grandparents had founded a major golf business, both my mom and my aunt played collegiate golf, and my mom played on the professional golf mini-tour no one took their golf clubs to the state that boasts some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. Nobody was in the mood to “play.”
We checked into a luxurious hotel and took a look around our rooms. The resort and island were stunning, and although we all had my grandfather’s diagnosis in the back of our minds, we tried to have as much fun as possible. Our days were filled with various island activities.
Although it only seemed like we were having fun at the time, when I look back on the trip I realize that not only was it a great opportunity for my family to bond, but it was also an amazing educational experience. One day we snorkeled and had a blast learning about reef preservation from our snorkeling instructor. The variety of marine life was endless. We saw sea turtles, stingrays, whales, eels, sea lions, and numerous unidentified species of fish.
Perhaps my favorite activity we experienced was a helicopter tour of the island. It was astounding to witness because Hawaii has a variety of different types of terrain and boasts eleven of the earths thirteen climate zones including desert, rainforest, and snow capped mountains. The island features shearing waterfalls that drop hundreds of feet, and Muana Loa which is an active volcano. My older brother, Braydon and I spent a long time boogie-boarding on the beach. This was an important part of the trip for me because Braydon is four years older than me so it is hard for us to find things we like to do together. It was a great time for Braydon and me to bond as brothers.
Looking back on the trip I now realize how lucky I was to be exposed to such opportunities. It was a once in a lifetime vacation, and I imagine it will be a long time before I am able to do anything like it again. Currently, my grandfather continues to battle skin cancer. He is in the middle of a chemotherapy clinical trial and has to travel to Houston every three weeks for an infusion. We constantly pray for his recovery so that we may eventually return to the island under merrier circumstances.
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