Postcard from Hawaii, pt. 2

Another postcard, issued by Coral Cards in Honolulu this time. Fold it open and it says “Mele Kalikimaka Me Ka Hauoli Makahiki Hou.” The cursive font is intricate and beautiful and bright red still. Below, a slighter but capitalized font provides a translation: “Merry Christmas” it says and “Happy New Year.” The date is December 14, 1979:

Dear A.

All good wishes, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope everything will go just as you have planned. As I wrote in my letter, the two of you would be more than welcome to spend your honeymoon in Hawaii. All the best wishes for the two of you.

There’s a water-colour drawing on the front of a small wooden cabin, with a little porch and sky-blue windows. Half hidden by a stand of palm trees it is surrounded by bushes blossoming lilac, pink and purple. A river flows gently by and on, into a wide and friendly sea. The valley is sheltered by a rainbow and beyond, everything dissolves into white and blue. There is no wintry robin, no trumpet-blowing angel, and no need for the annunciation. Here is a vision of the world before the fall.

My mother married you the day before her twenty-third birthday, on February 22, 1980. Your wedding photographs are heart-wrenchingly beautiful: she delicate and slender and beaming and her blonde hair curled and you tall, lean and dapper with a proud moustache and a shock of black hair surrounding your serene face. You lead her out of the church, you hold her hand amidst the crowd who gather in around you. Some of them I recognise and map their younger features onto the matured faces that I know. Your father is not one of them.

Full of scorn you spoke of his invitation to Hawaii. You were enraged at the suggestion and more enraged still by the fact that mum would have liked to go. She wished you to maintain a relationship that to you was poison and betrayal and her wish made her treacherous in turn. She wanted a reconciliation for your sake and the lilac, pink and purple for the two of you together. A new start, a clean slate – not such a bad hope to have on the eve of your wedding. “I declined out of hand,” you told me years later, the anger still simmering in your voice: “I already had a father, and didn’t need another one.”

Another episode, much later, but the same angry disappointment. You came to see me at the family home you had left years ago, when I was nine. “I saw your father in town today,” you greeted me. My face went blank, then white as you went on. You spoke of my mother’s partner.