The Hans laugh

Being back to work is such a privilege. It really is. A year ago I was still freaking out that it may never happen and although there have already been moments I am shaking my head wondering why I do it I can openly admit at the end of each day I feel pretty lucky to be back on this knocking side of the door of a hospital room. This being said I have mentioned before how I often find myself with such great tidbits of learning from my patients that I would like to share but I just don’t feel like they are really my stories to tell. This leads me to not really being able to write much as my days are full of thoughts of other lives in turmoil and struggle (some are actually doing okay, once in a while the nurses keep me straight from doing to much damage). Yet, at the end of some of these long stretches of not writing some of the stories I haven’t shared start coming to mind. So I thought I might throw one out which I hope some day my boys might find entertaining.

In 1998 when I met Brooke I had been to Alaska on a few occasions already for ski races but I had never been lucky enough to get to experience one of the coolest places in he world in the summer. Being addicted to Colorado at the time I didn’t really see how anything else could really top or compare to the vast array of outdoor fun available in my home state. Brooke had tried to explain and describe the feeling (yeah it is more than just an experience) of Alaskan and Halibut cove in the ever present glow of summer. To her credit she did a pretty good job as I actually contemplated going with her, although that may have been her beauty rather than words which tempted me. None the less I couldn’t shake the Colorado high and let her fly away without me. I spent that summer hanging out with a wild rambunctious crew of 5 year olds as a summer kindergarten teacher for Diane Carter. I really enjoyed it and sort of thought that if I didn’t get into med school I could really see myself chasing around with kids all day.

I couldn’t however stand being away from Brookie and so I convinced the Dudley’s we needed a family trip to Alaska. This has since become a pretty joyous and thought provoking adventure which stimulated multiple other Dudley clan trips with a growing number of sub clan members. This first trip though was memorable for may reasons which I have talked about before including the jaw dropping expressions as we floated into Halibut cove, the true feeling of summer sun at 2 in the morning, enjoying the surroundings so much we actually forgot Luke’s birthday (the pictures of my Mom refusing to let go of Luke late in the day when we realized this are pretty good). But one even I will always remember is my first attempt at an Alaska water ski.

To cast of Halibut cove characters in this first trip was wildly entertaining. Most of the young adults who are now grown and integral to the Cove were cove kids wild and free as mine will likely be in about 5-10 years. Although they all got along there were reportedly a collection of two groups. One was the true Cove kids (or at least they thought so) and the Lawyer kids. The Lawyer kids idea emanated in my understanding from a house a group of Lawyers owned and shared but all had kids who came and enjoyed the cove kids life in turns. To be fair the few who I have been lucky enough to meet and now know deserve by every right to not be considered different at this point although I have been hyperlocal myself at times and cannot fault the gang who felt they were the true cove kids.

This group was as entertaining as the young crew we have brewing now. The Maury kids were obviously part of it with Brooke sort of being the elder she was more of an adult figure really but she knew the antics. Ian and Ashley were in the thick of it. The Tasker brothers, Kerry and Tiger were the dark wild haired brothers, one quite and mischievous appearing, the younger athletic and tricky. The Bishops, Hans and Elsa were the toe headed Hawaiians who seemed to actually be feral, Elsa ran around with no shoes on and Hans never stopped smiling or laughing (I am not sure he ever has). Valerie Carrol was one I didn’t meet much on the trip but she was reportedly a bit of a loose cannon in the boys eyes.  The Cotton boys, sammy and gus were still on the young age to be hanging with these guys but we did see them around and they have upheld the wildness of cove kids. I think there were some others but in my short stay I didn’t get to meet them and when I returned the next summer I spent more time avoiding the wildness this bunch created.

The description of this crew was enough unto itself to be entertaining. I as a college kid and, in my eyes, a good athlete with a bit of wild side was interested in all the boat activities, swings, tree forts and games this group partook in. Brooke had told me about swimming in the ocean, jumping off cliffs, and water skiing in the cove. It would be important to point out here that I had never water skied at this point in my life. Nope. I had been on skis of every kind, cross country, downhill, telemark, jumping, grass, sawdust, sand, and rollerskis, but I had never water skied. So when the cry went up that it was time to waterski in the cove I was all for it. I mean I would be able to show this crazy group of kids that I really was an okay outsider and I deserved  the hot psuedo-babsitter, older girl.

Obviously that is not how it went.

First finding a wet suit for a much bulker college guy amongst teenage boys was not feasible. After multiple tries it was determined it wouldn’t work. This caused quite a ruckus. But I was tough and could handle the cold. So I watched these guys zip around a few times. agreed to show them how it was done sans wet suit. They pulled up the the public floats. I took the skis, figured out how to put them on  jumped in. I really should have mentioned I didn’t know what I was doing and got some lessons. But I didn’t. Bobbing in the water rapidly loosing feeling in my feet and hands the boat pulled away and I grabbed the rope and handle. This is when this gang showed me I didn’t yet belong. The throttle dropped and the rope got tight. I figured they had to give me a little extra speed given my size in comparison. The skis started plowing through the water and slowly to plane but that is my knees in a less than athletic stance fell rapidly behind and I went up out of the water and back down into if wide mouthed and drank some cove sea juice.

I came up spitting and gurgling once I let go to the chorus laughter of Hans, the Taskers, and the Maury’s. But I didn’t bother. No i couldn’t really feel much by then. but I manged to under laughter laden direction to get the skis back on and reentertain them with another similar feet of goofiness. After about three tries I did manage to get up and wobbly legged, straight armed, but out ski around behind the boat before they cut a quick corner and sling shot me. By then I was cold enough to admit momentary defeat and retreat to the boat. I did get a couple more goes later and I did figure it out. I blame the cold but I clearly was not worthy of their beautiful Brooke. I think since then I have acquired some respect in their eyes and they have tolerated my presence in the Cove for these years. But I have heard the laughter from Hans about this story multiple times. and I see the gleam in the eyes of the Tasker’s each time I run into them.

This story though really came to mind today because I missed Han’s wedding last night. In Kauai there was a big party of his Hawaiian friends and his Cove family last night. Included was Brooke and my boys, the next generation of cove kids. I would have loved to have been there. But I can’t get to much sun, swim, surf or drink really so I don’t think it would have been much fun for me. Although that being said Hans always finds some reason to laugh at me. Of course he laughs a lot, which is a wonderful thing to hear. I hope he got a lot in last night and today. Congrats to Hans and Erin. I wish I was there with everyone.

Head Up, Heart Strong. I really need a cure.

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