KAANAPALI - On a recent Saturday evening, with the wife off for a rare evening with friends and not the spouse, there was more evidence of the amazing people you can meet here if you are in the right place.
Visiting the Tiki Bar (not so much for drinks as to meet people), a columnist launches into conservation with Carol, a 68-year-old traveling by herself.
It is not long before she notes that her husband passed away last September. And then she tells a heart-warming tale.
Bartender Dale Sorensen sets the tone at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s Tiki Bar, a place for convivial conservation and storytelling.
When Carol flew into Hawaii for the first time years ago, she had the feeling she was coming home even before she landed. She and her new husband, Vern, returned year after year.
Since Vern could not travel in his waning years, sometime before he passed, Carol took a two-week trip to Molokai, hiking and braving a donkey ride inches from a precipice heading to the former leper colony.
Carol loves Hawaii so much that her license plate at home reads "Kalola" (Carol in Hawaiian).
Carol and Vern wanted their ashes sprinkled off Kaanapali Beach. Vern requested that a celebration of life after he passed have a Hawaiian theme.
So, in far off Minnesota, guests were asked to wear aloha or informal attire. One asked if he could wear shorts, and the answer was, "Of course." Recorded Hawaiian music played throughout the celebration.
Vern's ashes were placed in a Hawaiian-style urn (interesting you could get one in Minnesota). Carol and Vern have an agreement. When Carol passes, she will have the same kind of celebration of life. Then, her daughter will gather up two urns of ashes and bring them back to Maui.
The ashes will be mingled, placed in a flower-bedecked canoe and sprinkled together into the winds.
In the future, they will not be alone. Asked his plans, Carol's favorite Maui bartender, the 400,000 Mai Tai Man (Bartender Dale Sorensen) volunteered that his ashes will be there, too.
And so will his first wife's. And so will the ashes of this columnist (unclear yet whether my wife will join us). We will all be there together.
A friend points out that for locals, combining two sets of ashes is not unusual.
Dale added that the custom is popular with Mainlanders who love this place, because the experience of coming back to paradise to visit a deceased love one can be better than visiting a Mainland gravesite.
Thus ended another night at the Tiki Bar, the friendly place that is one of the best spots to be found for meeting people.
Take your pick: visitors from around the world, a customer rep or captain for Trilogy Excursions, a newcomer who just got a first Maui job, or a lady with a charming story to tell. They have all been there the last few weeks.