As the author of the Hawaii Revealed books, I have had a passion for writing about Hawai’i. But like many authors, getting the message down is what I concentrate on most. I’m not a finish carpenter, and plenty of typos and other mistakes flow through my fingers. Saving me from myself has been the job of the esteemed Jan Haag, of Sacramento, CA.
Jan and her partner Dick Schmidt have been close friends for 20 years. It was Jan, a reader, who reached out to me early in my career, “I love your books, but you sure could use a proofreader.”
“I completely agree. My only issue is—I can’t afford one,” I replied sheepishly. But Jan felt so strongly about helping me that she donated her services, not just once, but for several years until Hawai’i Revealed became successful enough to pay her.
Over the years Jan and Dick have made many trips to Hawai‘i, visiting with me and sharing our love of The Islands. On their most recent trip, they said their goodbyes on one of the neighboring islands and got on a plane to Honolulu to make their connection to the mainland. As Dick was about to hand his ticket to the flight attendant, out of the blue he got dizzy and fell. His heart and breathing had stopped on the spot. Jan could immediately see that he was gone.
“No Dickie, no. Come back, come back” she begged. At that moment another passenger in line, a nurse, came forward to help. Then another. They performed CPR while someone grabbed one of those ubiquitous AEDs we see all over airports but never give a second thought to.
The EMS was preparing to deploy the device, knowing they had to apply it to his bare skin, and out came the scissors to cut through Dick’s beloved custom photojournalist vest and the T-shirt he was wearing. Someone yelled clear, and with a single electric zap, Dick was back among the living. A trip to the ER, lots of tests, open heart surgery and then Dick recovering in a Honolulu hospital.
None of us knows our destiny. The best we can do is live our lives to the fullest, be kind to one another, leave places as good as or better than how we find them and be thankful for our time on this beautiful Earth.
This has all been driven home to me during this process. And it hit me like a two-by-four between the eyes when I saw the T-shirt they cut off Dick to bring him back.
The T-shirt simply said, “Life is Good.”