LENNIE & I – THE STORY OF US – Chapter 5

The sun had just risen and was streaming in across the bed.  The fragrant orange and white lei that Lennie had placed around my neck at the airport was hanging on the lampshade and I could feel the cool ocean breeze filtering through the jalousie windows with the promise of a warm day ahead.  Outside I could hear someone in the yard.  It was a strange monotone voice, as if it was someone in an institution that could not comprehend the world around them.  Over and over the voice said flatly, “Richard?… Richard?”  I got up from the bed and opened the window fully, but saw no one in the yard.  The slightly insane sounding voice had immediately stopped when I went to the window.  I gave it no more thought as I put on a robe and went looking for Lennie.

The smell of freshly brewing coffee led me to the kitchen, where Lennie was puttering around the freshly cleaned room.  He too was wearing a robe that hung open across his chest and was tied loosely at his waist.  He saw me staring and I was greeted with a huge grin.  “You look nice in the morning.”, he said.  “Some women have to have all their makeup on before they even step out the door.  I like the way you look when you wake up.  I think you’re beautiful Kathryn.”  He quickly went on, “Wait ’till you taste the coffee, baby.  Kona coffee – it’s the best in the world.”  He poured us each a mug of the dark, rich coffee and then added some stevia to his own.  “Come on outside and meet Nathan”, he said and I followed along.

Nathan was Lennie’s handyman and I liked him immediately.   He was tall and slim and moved quickly.  He had the depth of the ocean in his eyes and you could see the intelligence behind them.  Nathan was one of those guys who could do anything.  Lennie told me that he could build things, fix anything and that Lennie loved to just sit and have intellectual conversations with him.  So, I offered him coffee and the 3 of us just sat there in the garage, conversing and watching the morning sky greet the day.

Besides painting, there was one other thing that I excelled at:  cooking.  I have the ability to make something delicious and nutritious out of almost anything.  When Lennie sat down at the table he stared at the food and said, “I don’t want to eat it; it looks too beautiful.”  But his stomach won out and he picked up his spoon.  “Oh, baby, how did you make it taste so good?”  It was just cut up papaya and mango, but I had grated some fresh ginger and mixed it in.  Spices – they were the secret to all dishes, not matter how simple.  The omelette had been filled with whatever vegetables that I had found in the fridge and now we were full and I was ready to go wherever Lennie wanted to take me.

We got into the Blazer and headed for Lennie’s favorite store.  He said that he needed a couple of shirts as his were getting kind of worn looking.  He had told me that his favorite store was ‘Salvay’ and we pulled into the parking lot of the Kailua Salvation Army.

“Want to see how I pick out a shirt?”  I watched as he went to the extra large rack, closed his eyes and ran his fingers along the tops of the shirts.  “When I find one that feels like silk”, he said, “I stop.”

“Can I pick out your shirts for you?”, I asked him.

“Kathryn, I would love it if you picked out all my clothes.  A friend of mine told me to always buy black pants and shorts and never get horizontal stripes.  That’s all I know.  You should see the way I used to dress.  Green pants with a blue checkered shirt.  I didn’t know any better and no one helped me.”

“I would love to pick out your clothes for you and I can lay them out each morning, so you don’t have to try matching things, okay?”

“Deal.”, he said.  We wandered around the store and I found 2 bright canary yellow mugs for one dollar each that would match the dishes in the house as all of the mugs that went with the set were either missing or broken except one.  We left the Salvation Army with our treasures – 2 mugs and 2 new shirts for Lennie and got back into the Blazer.  Our next stop was Don Quixote, the local supermarket that, besides food, sold souvenirs, liquor, bedding and household goods and just ‘stuff’ in general.  It was an old store, full of everything that was Hawai’ian.  Instead of the deli counter being filled with cold cuts of meat, it was filled with ‘poke’ – raw tuna, cut into little cubes, done in every imaginable kind of sauce and marinade that you could think of.  Lennie asked the guy behind the counter to give me a piece of the ‘spicy ahi’, which was the Hawai’ian word for tuna.  I wasn’t sure about the raw fish, but as soon as I put it in my mouth, I loved it.  I don’t think that we ever tried many of the different types as we both loved this one.  We had both found out that each of us tried to be as health conscious as possible.  We loved many of the same foods – like our Fuji apples.  I was a vegetarian and he didn’t eat very much meat and being raised Jewish, had never even tasted pork.  This I was happy about.  I loved to cook and he loved everything that I made for him.

We packed our groceries into the Blazer and drove back through Kailua town to the house.  By now the sun was high so I decided to spend the afternoon unpacking.  Lennie had cleared out a dresser for me and given me half the closet.  Originally he had told me that I didn’t need to bring hardly anything with me, as I could get everything here.  And his one request was not to bring any jeans.  My favorite store back in Canada was also a thrift store and I had been able to find sarongs, shorts and sandals that people had obviously brought back from vacation and then abandoned.  I managed to fill my allotted space.

“Hey, baby?  Do you know how to get two days out of one?”

“No, how?”

“By taking a nap.  That way when you wake up, you feel more energized and can do more.”  He went on to explain how one of his good friends was a  well know health expert and had taught him that.  So he went to have a nap.  I had never done this before, so instead I went into the kitchen to see what I could make for lunch while Lennie napped.

When he awoke, lunch was on the table and as we ate Lennie said that it was Friday night and he couldn’t wait to go dancing with me.  I couldn’t wait either.  We both loved to dance.  I had taken ballroom and latin dance lessons and Lennie was just a natural.  He had about 25 different moves that had always made him a popular dance partner.  So popular in fact that several years earlier, after leaving a very unhappy marriage, he had signed up as a dance partner on a cruise ship that went from Japan to Russia to Europe.  He was considered one of the entertainment employees and therefore had the free roam of the ship when he was not dancing.  The dancing on the ship only amounted to 45 minutes before and after lunch and 45 minutes before dinner.  He had explained to me that there were far more women who went on cruises than men and they wanted someone to dance with.

When he came out of the shower Lennie found his clothes laid neatly on the bed for him to change into.  I had put my hair up into a knot and was wearing a halter top with attached palazzo pants.  I had sat out in the yard for a little while, so there was now a healthy glow to my skin.  Lennie just stood there staring at me.  “Oh my goodness.  I never thought that I could be with someone that was so little and cute, cause I’m so big.”

“I’m not cute.”, I said flatly.

“You’re cute to me, especially when you’re standing next to me.  I want you to start seeing yourself the way I see you Kathryn.  I think that you have been hiding yourself for far too long.”

Driving to Honolulu was a beautiful twenty minute drive through the mountains and along winding stretches of road with forests on one side and cliffs overlooking towns and the distant ocean on the other.   We passed through the area known as Nu’uanu where the different Embassies lined each side of the road, each one resplendent architecture, reflecting their own culture, but with distinct Hawai’ian and Asian touches.  One of the things that Lennie had pointed out to me was that there were no signs along the highways and roads, other than the government markers for speed and routes, etc.  There was no advertising, no billboards; nothing to mar the beauty of the natural landscape.

We were now driving down Kapiolani, one of the main streets through Honolulu on our way to the Ala Moana Hotel where the famous Rumors Nightclub is located.  This had been Lennie’s Friday night haunt for the past seven years, where he had danced and sweated off the pounds, getting himself down from 325 pounds to a little over 250 now.  He knew most of the regulars there and they knew him.  The bouncer at the door let us straight in and I saw a nightclub that looked as if it was out of the 1980′s with its sunken dance floor, sleek, curving bars and neon lights.

“I had one of the best nights of my life tonight Len.”

” Every night form now on is going to be the best night of your life Ku’uipo.  The drought is over.”  Holding hands, we drove home through the darkness along the winding mountain roads, as Cecillio and Kapono sang ‘About You’  on the radio.

BIRTHDAYS AND FORGIVENESS

Trying to stay positive is sometimes hard work.

Today was Lennie’s birthday.  He would have been 64.  It was one of those melancholy days when I kept thinking back to when he had turned 61.  I had only known him for several months and had decided to throw him a party.  It was an evening full of  fun and friends and singing and laughter.  Later that night he had told me that it was the very first birthday party that he had ever had.  For some reason that thought made me think about how quickly our lives pass by, one birthday at a time.

Life is too short to hold grudges.  I have long ago forgiven Malia.  I cannot hate her, partly because I still love her.

If someone has done something to hurt you, here are some points to consider:

  1. What purpose does hate serve?  Hating someone does nothing to harm them.  Instead, it festers inside you, creating illness.
  2. Look at the bigger picture:  in an awful time of heartache or crisis, was there something good that happened to you?  Were there people that showed you that they truly cared?
  3. Be gentle with yourself.  You need time to heal.  Do as much as you need to.  Eat well.  Rest.  Try to surround yourself with the all the beauty that the world has to offer.
  4. Don’t involve others.  As Iyanla Vanzant says, “Change your story.”  Your story is not about the bad that was done to you; those are just the facts and the facts are not your authentic story.  So don’t let someone else’s malice take away from what was true and good and wonderful in your life.
  5. Did you know that the Aramaic word (the language that Jesus spoke) for ‘forgive’ is literally ‘to untie’.  Sometimes it is necessary to ‘untie’ yourself from people or situations that have harmed you.  You need to remove the negativity and become more positive about the future of your life.
  6. Feel sorry for those that have harmed you.  They will have their own Karma to deal with.  Instead of hating them, feel pity for them, if for no other reason than they are not evolved or enlightened enough to be any different than they are.
  7. Don’t let others have the power to change who you are.  Only by allowing them to change you, your ethics or your personality can they still have power over you.
  8. Finally, ‘forgiving’ does not mean ‘giving in’.  Do what you believe is right.  You may need to see something through before you can truly move on.  Just make sure that you do it with grace and dignity and stick to only the facts as you know them to be.
    Lennie's birthday party 2009

    Kathryn

www.kathrynsmith.com

 

 

UPDATE – “NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED”

Hello,

It has been far too long since I have written on my blog.  I have just posted Chapter 4 in The Story of Us a couple of days ago.  I feel that I should update everyone on what has been happening in my life this past few months.

I have seen the inside of an American Courtroom more times than I care to.  I have been falsely and maliciously accused of many things.  There have been petitions put forth in court alleging that Lennie had never loved me and that I was nothing more than his caregiver besides  dozens more cruel lies.  I have learned that greed has no bounds.  I have learned that often people have a false sense of entitlement.  And I have learned the meaning behind the cynical phrase “No good deed goes unpunished.”  I hope that few people have to endure the pain and heartache that I have gone through since Lennie passed away.  His heart would break for me if he had known the sheer magnitude of greed that surrounded him.  And yet, I believe that he does know.  I feel him beside me often, guiding my path and putting good people near me  to offer their help and support.  I cannot talk about this more than what I have stated as it is on-going.

I am now back in Canada with my pets and my friends and all that I love and that is familiar to me.  I have been financially devastated by Lennie’s cancer treatments and at the age of 55 …I am starting over.

Please visit my website at www.kathrynsmith.com if you would like to purchase a limited edition print online, view my artwork, or order a commission.  If you would like to contact me, my contact information is there also.

Vehementer vive, valde ama,

Kathryn

www.kathrynsmith.com

 

LENNIE & I – THE STORY OF US – Chapter 4

It was eleven a.m. in the morning in Vancouver.  I could feel the panic rising in me as I dialed Lennie’s number.  Vancouver International airport was huge; bigger than anything I had imagined.  Because I was still in Canada, I was told that I had to pick up my luggage and go through customs before getting on the next plane that would take me to Honolulu.  But, where was my luggage?  How was I supposed to find it in this enormous airport.  It was eight o’clock in the morning in Hawai’i and I heard Lennie’s voice answer, “Hey Baby.  You did it.  You’re making it happen!”

“I don’t know what to do or where to go.  They said I have to pick up my luggage and go through customs.”  I could feel pain behind my eyes as if I was a lost child.  “Okay”, said Lennie, “Look around you for signs that say ‘Baggage’.”  “There’s nothing here and there’s different levels – I don’t know where to go!”  Despite his help, I didn’t have a clue where to go and just started randomly asking anyone that was in a uniform.  A flight attendant directed me to an information booth and they told me that I would have to go to the next level to claim my bags and then re-enter security and go through customs.

I was more calm now that I had found my luggage and Lennie said, “How long a layover do you have?”  My flight doesn’t leave for 6 hours.  It had been 7, but I had used up an hour looking for my luggage.  He spent the next few minutes trying to talk me into leaving the airport and taking in some of the sights in Vancouver.  I assured him that I was absolutely not leaving the airport.  It was bad enough that it was under construction for the upcoming Olympics and there were detour signs and arrows and plastic-covered scaffolding, but I sure wasn’t going to go exploring by myself in a strange city, dragging around my luggage.  So I wandered.  I went through customs and just plunked myself down in a waiting area and waited.  Occasionally I drifted off to sleep for a few minutes at a time and got up to get something to eat and drink.  Finally it was six o’clock in the evening and I was boarding the last leg of the flight – a seven hour flight over the pacific to Honolulu to meet Lennie in person for the very first time.

The flight was uneventful and long.  I became the Queen of “Are we there yet?”  I was flying on WestJet and it was a night flight.  I was thankful that there was a movie even if it was “Twilight”.  Finally the captain come on to announce that we were approaching Honolulu and were flying over the other Islands.  I looked out the window and through the darkness could see the sparkling lights that outlined the strip of Waikiki, stretching up along the coast to Pearl Harbor and the airport that we were descending upon.

 

As I stepped off the plane I remembered Lennie’s words:  “Stop and breathe in the air; there is nothing else like it.  The air here in Hawai’i has more oxygen in it.”  This was true as I breathed in the warm, moist air.  It was as if my lungs were expanding more fully than they were ever able to before.  I walked across the breezeway with its open sides, overlooking palm trees and a small pond.  The airport was small with just a few carousels for luggage.  I had changed into a summer dress in the tiny head on the plane and now had my luggage in tow.  Where was Lennie?  I was crouching on the floor, digging through my purse for my phone when I heard a familiar voice behind me say, “Are you looking for me?”

“Yes”, I replied as I stood up, turning around and staring into his handsome, smiling face.  He was wearing the parrot shirt that he had worn in the photo that he had sent to me.  I had asked him to wear it and it was to become one of my favorite shirts on him and later, one of my most cherished belongings.  We walked out of the airport, hand in hand to his old Dodge Ram that I had asked him to pick me up in.  As I had explained to him, it had a bench seat and we could sit next to each other.

Our first kiss.

We drove out of the airport and into the night as we traveled inland to get to the Windward side of O’ahu.  Tunnels that were illuminated broke through the darkness as we cruised through the mountains and along the winding Pali Highway.   The majority of the trip was in darkness so I couldn’t see the beauty that was Hawai’i.  We passed stretches of ocean with lights dotted all over, showing glimpses of where towns and forests and marshes were.  Finally we were on Mokapu Saddle Road and turning onto the street in Kailua that was to become my home.

The house was in darkness when we arrived and Lennie lifted my luggage out of the back of the truck with ease and carried it into the house.  I walked behind him and stood, waiting for him to turn on the lights when he came right back outside to me.  He picked me up in his arms and carried me over the threshold as if I was his new bride.  He put me down and I stood in the middle of the living room while Lennie turned on the lights and I got my first glimpse of the house.  There was a lot of stuff and some mix and match furniture.  “Wait right here”, he instructed me as he walked into another room and closed the door behind him.  A few minutes later he opened the door with a smile on his face and the candlelight shining in moist eyes.  “Welcome to your new home, Kathryn.”  There were candles all over the master bedroom with a homemade sign on the bed, welcoming me.  He took me in his arms and kissed me passionately as he pushed the bedroom door closed with his foot.  The room and the night enveloped us as if we had been parted for a very long time and had finally found our way back to each other over the years and perhaps other lifetimes.  Finally, we had found each other.

Kathryn

www.kathrynsmith.com

WET & WILD HAWAI’I

As I previously mentioned, my blog has been down and I have been unable to post, so this is from March 9, 2012.

WET & WILD HAWAI’I is a water theme park here in Hawai’i. Today it was the description for the entire Hawai’ian Islands.

I woke up shortly after five-dark-thirty, as Lennie use to say, to the sound of what sounded like hammering or rapid gunfire on the roof. The sound was deafening, as if we were under seige. I listened for a few minutes before my friend Debbie came running into my bedroom, drenched from the rain. “Kathryn, you have to get up and see this! We will never see it again in our lifetime!”

Debbie had been out in the garage/lanai having her early morning coffee and cigarette when the storm hit. She was soaked from having run the 10 feet to the front door. When I looked at the ground in the still darkness, I could see hundreds of mis-shapen golf balls of ice. We were having a hail storm in Hawai’i. Most of the people that have lived here all their lives have never seen hail. And most of the people from the northern part of the mainland see it rarely. It is one of the oddities of nature and does not occur unless conditions are perfect. We turned on the morning news to see what it was like on the rest of the island. On the windward side we were getting the brunt of it. The marine corps base just 4 minutes from here had to be closed down due to flooded out roads. The base sits on a penninsula, forming a breakwall between the ocean and Kaneohe Bay. They were being hit hard.

It has rained for almost the entire month of February and now into March, but this was the worst of it as two storms of different pressures met. Off the coast of Lanikai, which is just 3 2 miles down the road, someone shot a video of a funnel cloud – something that has not occured in the Hawai’ian Islands for over 100 years. This was likely responsible for the 60+ mile per hour winds that whirled the rain and hail around the house. At one point you could not tell where the wind was coming from. It sucked empty pails and containers out of the garage and the already water logged ground could not take in the water fast enough. It started to rise above ground level and flooded the side apartment. When Debbie later phoned friends in Honolulu they told her that the rain came down the mountain so fast that there was 2 feet of water running through the beautiful hill-side studio that she had previously lived in. When the worst of it was over, there were about 1,000 families in this area without power. The funnel cloud had briefly touched land before dissipating and one house in Lanikai had been destroyed, along with any trees that had been in its path.  There were mud slides and thousands of evacuations. During the pre-storm when it was just heavy rain, one of our neighbors had climbed onto their house and covered the roof with a tarp and sandbags. No one in Hawai’i has ever seen anything like this. Oh, and the temperature was 6 degrees above New York at a chilly 60 F.

February and March seem to be the worst months to visit Hawai’i. It was almost this same date last year that the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and everyone in Hawai’i was being evacuated. I remember Lennie and I driving to the higher ground of the upper house in Kaneohe. I am guessing that we have had maybe 5 or 6 sunny days since I arrived here, and most of those were just days of partial sun. You have to feel bad for the people on vacation when you see everyone wearing polar fleece hoodies. Right now I am in the house – a house that has no heat and louvered panels of glass in the windows that normally would let in the balmy Hawai’ian breezes. I am wearing a faux sheepskin jacket and yoga pants. I am dressed in grey and black. It feels much like being up north in a cottage during a not-so-nice summer. Many of the restaurants here are open to the beach and the elements, not use to having anything like this kind of weather. All activities are centered around the outdoor beauty of Hawai’i. Even the famous Ala Moana Shopping Center is open to the sky on all floors with strategic bits of roofing to cover escalators and mostly for architectural esthetics. My friend Debbie and I went there one day last week, just to get away from the rain and the cold on this side of the island, only to find flooded streets in Honolulu and dozens of people with brooms trying to sweep back the rain from the store entrances at the Ala Moana. Patrons gingerly walked along the walls, not wanting to step away from the 12 inch overhang that afforded them slight cover on the slippery stone floors.  Later we raced back to Kailua so that Debbie could watch American Idol, only to have the power go out due to another windy storm.  We had only been in the house for about 2 minutes – just long enough to turn on the lights and the TV when a power line went down, setting the entire hillside on fire.

So everyone here has had enough of the rain, wind, clouds and cold temperatures.  And by the way, did I mention the vog (volcanic organic gases)?

Kathryn

www.kathrynsmith.com

VALENTINE’S DAY 2012

Today is Valentine’s Day.  It is one of the few sunny days that there has been here on the windward side of O’ahu in the Hawai’ian Islands. I am sitting in the backyard of the home that I lived in with Lennie. It was 3 years ago today that I first saw his photo on line in a serendipitous chance that fate threw out to the universe on Valentine’s Day, 2009. What once was my dream of coming to Hawai’i and finding the destiny that I always knew lie here became a reality as I met the man whom I planned to spend the rest of my life with. Has it really been over 3 months since he passed away? I have tried to fill that time with work, but that became sparse after Christmas. It seems that some of that time I must have wandered around in a daze, still unable to believe that he is gone. I joke with some of my friends that I really am that stereotypical image of the woman who meets a man over the Internet and ends up giving him all of her money. And I know that I would do it again in a heart beat if it meant that Lennie and I could spend a few more precious days together.
I have been back in Hawai’i for almost 2 weeks to deal with issues that I cannot talk about right now. I am here in paradise and have never felt so alone and desolate in my life. I can vividly recall the days of being a true ‘starving artist’, when I decided to make my living by my brush alone. Was I really that brave once? I tell people that one of the greatest ‘gifts’ that Lennie gave to me was courage. He made me feel as if I could accomplish anything. But maybe I always had that courage and just lost it for a while as I got complacent with my life. I remember being so broke once that there was literally no food left in the house except some cornflakes. I had run out of everything. There wern’t even the staples left; no bread, no rice, no dog food. There was a half box of Cornflakes in an otherwise bare cupboard. I poured the cornflakes into two bowls and added water to them. This was supper for both my dog, Chaucer, and I as I tried to live on one dollar a day for food. As I sat the bowl of cornflakes with water on the floor before Chaucer, I thought to myself, “this is as low as I can go.” It was at that precise second when an epiphany occured that changed my point of view. As I set the bowl in front of him, Chaucer looked at the cornflakes, turned and looked at me and then back to his bowl and began to devour his cornflakes with water. The look in his eyes had said it all. It was as if he wanted to say, “Look what I got! We must have won the lottery!” It was in that moment that I suddenly knew that everything would be okay. It was simply a matter of changing your outlook, or your point of view. This was something that I had heard Lennie say many times, “What is the hardest and also the easiest thing to do?” “To change your point of view.”  With that change of outlook on your life comes an empowerment. It enables you to take charge, once again, for your own life instead of sitting back, almost an observer, and letting yourself feel like a victim. Changing your outlook not only lifts your mood, but you seem to emit a new aura of confidence. Confident people walk taller. They look people in the eye, although when you are broke, you sometimes can’t help looking at the ground …there might be money down there! All kidding aside, they put out a positive attitude to the universe. Ant to that positive attitude, other positive things are attracted.
During some of those empowering moments are when positive things did start to happen for me. We say that it was ‘out of the blue’, but was it, or did we have some hand in changing our fate? Incidentally, it was the next day that my phone rang. It was a friend who was a Feng Shui master. She wanted to come over for a visit. It was during that visit that she made me rearrange my furniture and make my rooms look much brighter. It was shortly after that that I was sitting in my brighter room that the idea for a print collection came to me. Yes, I had to talk a banker into lending me the money with absolutely no collateral. And I never looked back. It was thanks to whatever God-given talent that I possess that I was able to pay for that first 2 month trip to one of the cancer clinics in Mexico. So, although I have been left financially destitute from Lennie’s care, I know that the universe will not let me starve as long as I do not just sit back and wait for it to save me. You do have to be pro-active. But you can be really pro-active with an attitude of success and just a ‘going-through-the-motions’ kind of attempt.
So on this Valentine’s Day you may be in Paradise or you may be somewhere that you have never liked. You may be with the love of your life, or you may be alone. How you perceive your present state is all in your point of view. I hope that this small Valentine gift of my own personal story and wisdom can reach some of you who also may be feeling alone and scared today. I hope that it will give you the courage to take charge and make your life better and happier.
Remember that output equals input – the more attempts you make, the better your chances. On that note if anyone is looking for a House Portrait or any other commission, please e-mail me at kathryninhawaii@gmail.com or visit my website at www.kathrynsmith.com
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you.
And to the universe:  I love you and I miss you Lennie Schneider.  Every day was Valentine’s Day with you.
Until we meet again,
Kathryn   xxxooo

996 DAYS – the early dates

Lennie and I shared a beautiful love affair for 996 days and nights from Valentine’s Day 2009, when we met by serendipitous chance on the Internet, to November 7, 2011 when he died in my arms in his beloved Hawai’i.

The following is a pictoral history of some of the early photos in the short span of life that we shared.  How we filled that time with love, laughter and devotion to each other.

First kiss - March 25, 2009
On tour at the Plantation
At the Pali Lookout
One of my favorite photos of us at Haleiwa Joe's
Reunion after being apart for a few weeks
Happy and in love in Hawai'i
Being tourists at the Dole Plantation
At Fort DeRussy, Waikiki
Rachel's Lei stand - Lennie got a lei for me every time I arrived
Lennie and I with Chaucer, travelling to Rochester to visit his family
Lennie's birthday party - August 26, 2009
At Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu

Vehementer vive, valde ama

Kathryn

www.kathrynsmith.ca

LENNIE & I – THE STORY OF US – Chapter 3

“I am courting you Kathryn.”  Lennie was at the Ala Moana Hotel standing out side of Rumors Night Club.  In the background I could hear the music playing.  It was a duet between Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie Cole.  It was a recording of Unforgettable. “I came outside where I could call you.  I’m just standing here listening to the music and pretending that I’m dancing with you.  It’s so strange, but I would rather be out here, talking to you on the phone, than in there dancing with one of the women.”

Going dancing at Rumors Night Club was Lennie’s Friday night ritual.  He had been doing it for several years.  It had been part of his weight loss program when he had arrived back in Hawai’i after leaving his wife in 2002.  At that point, out of years of stress and emotional eating, he had weighed a staggering 325 lbs.  Through better eating habits, his Friday night dancing and the Bragg exercise class on the beach, outside Fort DeRussy in Waikiki and his love of swimming, he had lost 75 pounds.  Now he was looking pretty good; six-foot-one, a head of thick, wavy, dark hair and well muscled.  He didn’t have trouble finding someone to dance with.

“Just think”, I was saying, “in a couple of weeks I will be there.”  The 3 months had been shortened when I saw a seat sale on West Jet.  My arrival date was now March 26, a mere 3 weeks away.   “I can’t wait to go dancing with you.”, I said.   “Did I ever tell you that I took dance lessons at Fred Astaire?”  “No, you didn’t.  I never took any lessons, but I have about 25 moves and I’m a strong leader.”  I love a strong lead dancer, I thought to myself and I imagined us whirling around the floor.  “Because I’m a good dancer”, he was continuing, “I got a free European Cruise a couple of years ago.”  “A free cruise?  How did you manage that?”  “Well,  I saw this ad for dance partners on a cruise ship.  You see, there are always more women than men on cruises and the women want someone to dance with, so I signed up for it.  I had to go to a dance studio and prove that I could dance and get the owner to certify me as qualified and that was it.  So I signed up on this cruise that went from Japan to Russia and some ports in Europe.  Because I was considered entertainment, I got the use of everything on the ship that the passengers got.”  “How much did you have to dance?”, I asked.  “Not that much; just 45 minutes after lunch, and 45 minutes both before and after dinner.  I had to wear grey pants and a navy blazer and we weren’t supposed to dance with a woman twice before having danced with everyone.  And guess what Baby?  I always had the biggest lineup.  The women liked dancing with me because I’m such a fun guy.”  Somehow I already knew this.  Lennie was the kind of dancer that didn’t care if he got all the steps right; he didn’t care if the woman broke into the lead once in a while; as long as you were both having fun.    “I’m going back in to get some more exercise.  You don’t mind do you – that I know you’re coming and I’m dancing with other women?”  “No, of course not.  Why would I mind when you’ve been doing it for years?”  “Good.”, Lennie said, “I don’t want you to be jealous.  You know what I do?  I look for the fattest and most unattractive lady and I ask her to dance.  You should see the way their face lights up and while they’re dancing, they’re waving to their friends to get their attention, like ‘Hey, look at me with this guy.’  It makes their night, and it gives them bragging rights to make them feel good.”  So, he was also kind.  We both liked the underdog stories and he was doing his part.  No, I could not wait to be dancing with him.

Lennie hung up the phone and went back inside Rumors while I replayedUnforgettable in my mind.  It really was only 3 weeks now before we would meet.  One of my friends from the dog park told me that West Jet flew out of Hamilton and that they occasionally had seat sales.  As luck would have it, when I went on to their web site, there it was – a 3-day-only seat sale.  I had immediately called Lennie.  “Well, why don’t you book it before it’s gone?”  “I don’t know how.  I’ve never bought anything over the Internet.  I’ve never bought anything over the phone either.”  I heard him sigh.  “Well, it’s the only way that you’re going to get here.”, he said.  A frustrating (for him) hour later he had managed to convince me that the airline people would not use my credit card if I gave them the number.  It was safe and secure and the majority of people in North America did this all the time.  So it was done.  I had my flight booked for a wonderful 2 1/2 weeks.  Exhausted from dealing with my creditcardphobia he said that he was going to take a nap.  But, even though it was six hours later here, I felt empowered by my new Internet knowledge.  I went back on to the West Jet site.  There were more seat sales.  My return flight would bring me back to Hamilton in mid-April.  There was another seat in the middle of May that was on sale, but the only one that I could find for a return flight was five weeks after.  Oh well, I would stay for five weeks on my second trip.  And it was done.  I had now booked a second flight to Hawai’i for five weeks before even having met Lennie.

In the meantime, he had been asking me to send him some more photos of myself.  I know that he wanted some pin-up shots, but like he had said, “I know that’s not your style Baby.”  He had recalled stories that he told me of women that were dying to have him invite them to Hawai’i and sent him nude shots with their first e-mails.  Usually that had been enough for him to block them from his list.  But he wanted something cute.  So I had set up my tripod and taken some shots of me in a sarong and talking on the phone and in a swimsuit.  Lennie would like these.  The photo of me in the sarong would become one of his favorites and the one that he uploaded into his phone as his background.  I had had this sarong for over 25 years.  I had kept it for the day that I would be brave enough to travel to Hawai’i.  Now that day was drawing near.

About an hour and a half later Lennie had woken up from his nap.  My phone rang and I grabbed it on the first ring.  “Hi Honey”, I said brightly.  “Guess what I did?”  “What Baby?”  “I went back on the West Jet site and booked a second flight; for five weeks.”  There was silence.  The silence was followed by nervous laughter and then he said, “That’s my girl.  Go straight for the throat.”  I wasn’t sure what he meant by that.  “That’s alright, isn’t it?  I think that we are both going to get along and the worst that can happen is that I have to cancel it and West Jet has this bank account thing that I can put the cancelled ticket into or even sell it to someone else.”  I was talking too fast.  “It’s okay Baby.  It was just a surprise, that’s all.”  Later I would find out how much of a surprise it was to him.  He would tell me a year later that he had thought that I might be just a two week fling and that me booking that second flight before we had even met had helped to cement our relationship.

A couple of hours later he called me and said, “Guess what I’m doing?”  “What?”, I asked.  “I’m cleaning up the house for your arrival.  I’ve got my handyman and cleaning lady helping me.  We’re throwing out stuff and cleaning the place up.  I’m doing it for you, Kathryn.  I’m starting to nest.”

Kathryn

www.kathrynsmith.com