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Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Turtle

Hawaii - November 2012 - A trip of healing and making new memories, that was the hope my brother and sister in law had wanted for my children and I as we embarked on a 10 day holiday with them and my little nephew; and that is exactly what we all got.

Sometimes when you first hear an idea you jump on it; a knee jerk reaction, that is what I did shortly after my husband passed away in August of 2012.  My sister in law offered to take my children and I to Hawaii with her, my brother and their son.  It sounded great! Sun, sand and a chance to get away from all the sadness.  But as the time approached to get ready for the holiday the idea started to lessen in appeal to me; I wasn't sure I could do it.  After all this would be our first family vacation without my husband.  Luckily, my kids were understanding and convinced me this would be a good thing and as uptight as I was about going, I didn't want to disappoint them; they had gone through enough all ready.

The first couple days were filled with all sorts of wonders for us.  We stayed in Honolulu for two nights and took in all the sounds, sights and smells of this beautiful place.  The kids seemed happy, my brother and his wife and son were relaxed and having a good time.  I too enjoyed myself, but the nights were hard.

On the third day we flew over to the Big Island of Hawaii and stayed in a beautiful condo, again this was hard for me, but as with all things in life, sometimes you just have to suck it up and enjoy the moment, and that's exactly what I did.  I put my face to the sun and felt the warmth penetrate to my bones.  I was starting to feel peace, just a slight breeze of it, but it was there.

We took to the island like it was home and enjoyed touring around and seeing as many of the sites as we could.  One of the things I was worried about when we were planning our trip were sharks.  My kids had a lot of fun with that, but I really had a fear....perhaps it was a little silly, but to me you just shouldn't go into the ocean, after all I was an impressionable teenager when "Jaws" came out and I have a pretty good imagination still.  Of course one of the best things about the Kona area is the snorkeling; again it was time to enjoy the moment and to conquer my fears, so I bought snorkeling equipment for my family and off to a popular turtle cove we went.  This was a particularly good spot to snorkel, it's protected from the open ocean and turtles were known to come in from the ocean to this cove.  The first day we were there was a lot of fun, I do have to admit it.  I took a lot of pictures of fish with my underwater camera and had a great time.  I didn't see any sharks, thank goodness, but I did keep my eyes peeled for them.

The second time we went snorkeling was at the beach our condo unit was allowed to use.  The beach was gorgeous and I spent many hours in the water by myself or with my two youngest kids.  I took pictures and they either snorkeled or paddle boarded.  It was a great day.  As late afternoon approached my oldest joined us in the water.  We swam around, took pictures and got too close to some large lava rocks.  I was pushed up against them, hurt my leg, but all seemed okay.  I was starting to get a little nervous because we were quite a ways out from the shore and I started to worried about sharks.  But by this time I had a new sense of bravery and figured if a shark came by I would bop it with my camera and save my kids.  We started to get cold and decided we had enough for the day.  As we got out of the ocean my daughter pointed down to my leg, when I looked at the direction she was pointing I noticed there was a lot of blood dripping down from the scrape I received on the lava.   It then occurred to me, not only was I not protecting my kids from any wayward sharks, I was the bait.

The day before we were to leave this beautiful paradise we decided to go snorkeling back in Kona.  It was an over cast day, but still very warm.  The ocean was a little bit clearer than the last time we were there and we spent a few hours in the water.  While my daughter and I were swimming around the most incredible thing happened.  Literally out of the blue a turtle came swimming, directly for us.  It was beautiful, it was magical and it wasn't moving out of our way....straight towards us it came.  As it approached I moved out of it's way and motioned to my daughter to follow and we started to swim with it.  With each stroke or kick of my flipper to keep up along side of the turtle it seemed determined to get closer to me, so close in fact that I had to move out of the way a number of times.  A couple other snorkelers approached and one person, to our horror, touched the turtle, this was not allowed and not welcomed by this amazing creature.  The interloper left and we continued on our journey as the turtle continued to swim with us, beckoning us to keep up.  Finally, at some point I decided we should stop and I motioned this to my daughter.  As we said good bye to our new swimming companion we popped our heads out of the water just in time to hear the life guard yelling at someone to get out of the out of the out of bounds area.....oops, I think that was us.  We quickly swam back to the area we started in and rejoiced at this incredible experience.

After our time of snorkeling we all headed back to the van and had a quick look at the photos of the turtle and realized that quite a few turned out really well.  What a treasure, what an experience.

A couple days later when we got back home to St. Albert life returned back to our new normal and everyone got back to their lives.  The memories we made and the bonding we experienced with each other and my brother and his family were true gifts and I will always cherish them. 

As life carried on and the days started to grow into weeks I wanted to get back to my painting so bad, but I just couldn't seem to settle enough to let the creativity flow through me, until I started thinking about the turtle, then I couldn't stop thinking about the turtle and decided it was time to figure out which photos I wanted to use.  I decided on one that seemed to be speaking to me.  Then I decided I needed a little more motivation and started to post my painting progress on my Facebook art page each day.  This helped me keep the momentum going and gave me some instant feed back. 

I am so grateful to all the people who have watched this painting journey and who have followed along.  I am so grateful to this wonderful turtle who seemed to come into my life out of the blue, and in just a few short minutes help me to find my way again.

24" x 30" - Original Oil
Giclee/reproductions available

The Turtle - The progress of the painting

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