Speaking of that roller coaster, my cousin David died yesterday, very suddenly, very unexpectedly. He was my mom's first cousin and about her age. I haven't heard any details yet as he lived in Paris and his mother, my great aunt, is 95. My mom has only heard that David died.
My grandmother, my mom's mom, had three siblings: one brother, Bob, and two sisters, Cherrie (short for Cherilla and pronounced "Cherry") and Martha. Bob was David's father. They all lived in Hawaii except for Auntie Cherrie so I knew them all growing up.
Cousin David was a banker and lived in London and then Paris. I met him and his wife at the time and their daughters when I was a junior or senior in high school. They had made a big trip to Hawaii so all the family got together for a dinner party. The next time I met David was in Paris in 1989. And that was the first of many wonderful visits we would have as I've been lucky to have gone to Paris many times and every time I go, no matter who I'm with, I had dinner with David. Except for that first visit in 1989.
My first tour of Europe was post college graduation, with three friends, backpacks, eurail passes and "Let's Go" at the ready. My mom had written ahead to David to say I would be stopping in sometime in June. She gave me his work address and phone number and one day in Paris my friend Vince and I found his office. Cousin David was then serving as the (I believe this is the correct title) President of the Bank of Kuwait and his office was on the Champs Elysees. We were in our best youth hostel travel gear so going into the small, elegant, air-conditioned offices was a bit intimidating. ("Country bumpkin" comes to mind when I picture myself there.) I smiled at the gorgeous french woman at the reception and told her who I was and that I was here to see Mr. Lowrey. We were shown into a lovely office, offered cokes (we said yes please) and then David came in, smiling, so happy to see me, nice to meet my friend. How were our travels, etc. Then he said, "So tell me again, how do you know Jane?" David was a brilliant guy, but sometimes a bit scatterbrained. "Ummm, Jane's my mom?" He laughed and said "Of course, how silly!" and we chatted for a few minutes more. Unfortunately our stay in Paris was too short to arrange dinner with David and all three of my friends.
In 1992 I went back to Europe alone but for the eurail pass, backpack and updated "Let's Go." I had written to David myself to say I was coming into Paris and would like to visit again if I could. This time I called ahead and we arranged to have dinner at a restaurant he frequented near my youth hostel. We met there and he ordered for me ("Do you like duck?") and we had wine. Well, I had some, he had what seemed like a LOT to a naive young traveler like me. I don't remember what we talked about, but it was probably a lot about growing up in Hawaii, family, family history, Paris, traveling, etc. David was a fine dinner companion. We said good-bye and I tottered home, feeling the wine.
I was next in Paris in 1994 with my boyfriend at the time. Again I wrote ahead to let David know we were coming and could we have dinner. Yes indeed! By this time (post gulf war #1) David was teaching business and economics. The three of us met, had a wonderful dinner, talked about work, the film business, traveling, a bit of family history again, etc. Lots of good wine to drink and delicious food.
In 1997, cousin David was in Hawaii visiting his mom on Oahu. I was on an extended vacation after finishing Contact and when mom told me David was coming to visit, I asked if we could go over so we did and got more cousins together and it was so much fun! We had dinner at the Outrigger and had the most amazing sunset. Here we are:
L --> R: Emmi, Auntie Sally (David's mom), Jane (my mom), Tony, Wendy, Me, David (in red shirt) and Jimmy.
(Jimmy and Wendy are brother and sister and their mom is Auntie Martha (not pictured), they are first cousins to my mom and David. Tony is married to Wendy, Emmi is married to Jimmy.)
Just sitting there listening to good fun family stories and histories about high school at Punahou and small kid time on Kauai and Oahu and the Big Island and Maui. It was pricesless and wonderful. I'm so glad we went.
Next time I was in Paris was 2004. Kurt and I had been married for almost three years and I had just been in Macedonia for work. Kurt met me for a few days in MK and then we spent four or five days in Paris before going home. Of course I had to call David and make plans for dinner! Turns out that cousins Wendy and Tony were going to be there for a night on their way home from a canal boat tour and so we got double bonus cousin time. We met David first for dinner one night, he had been to the dentist that day so was already not feeling any pain! We had a smashing good time, chatted a lot, he got to know Kurt and we all got along great. Then we met him again when Wendy and Tony were there, all of us meeting at David's flat on Rue Mazarin for cocktails (champagne), pu-pus and a cousin picture:
David, me and Wendy.
Then we went across the tiny street to a portuguese restaurant and had some yummy food and more fun stories to tell. Wendy and Tony were catching an early flight the next day so they turned in early. "Early" was around 11 or 12. David asked if we were game and we said yes and went to a TINY bar just down the block. It was a "Mexican Bar" and there were about four good sized picnic tables and benches, a plank of wood for a bar in the back and guys playing guitars. It was crowded, but since we were pretty "early," we got seats and drank more champagne. We stayed for another hour or two, the oldest people in the place, though the owners knew and greeted David warmly. Finally Kurt and I could barely keep our eyes open and we left, walking David back to his flat, big hugs and thanks for a wonderful evening! I think David might have stayed all night in the Mexican Bar if we had had the stamina.
The last time we saw David was spring 2006. We were in Paris for two weeks and other friends of ours were in Paris then as well. The five of us got together, of course, starting at his flat with the wonderfully requisite champagne and pu-pus, then going across the street for dinner. It was a lovely evening.
David and our friend Pranab.
Kurt and David (quite a flash!)
David, gallantly posing with the silly sock monkey we took on the trip for some reason.
That is the last time we saw David.
I've been so lucky to be able to go to Paris five times and each time, it has been made more special by having family there, wonderful cousin David who always made us feel so welcome. Having someone local in place like Paris is great, having family there is even better. Those of you who know what Ohana means, knows how special that can be.
Paris will be a bit dimmer without him now. And I was so hoping to have a trip in the next few years where Kurt and I could take my mom to Paris and then we could all have dinner with David. Not to be.
Aloha 'oe, dear David.