Furlough to the Mainland IV

A few days with Jason and his three daughters in Hawaii on the way home.

Back to Hawaii

There may have been no problem running down the Hudson, transiting to New Jersey railroad and checking into the hotel, it was a different story the next day a the airport. Check in was was no trouble, but the line for security defied belief. It was the longest I’ve ever been in, winding as it did around the entire terminal. The wait of an hour didn’t seem as long as the walk.

In mid-afternoon Jason picked me up at the Honolulu airport after the long flight from Newark via Denver. Before driving home, we spent an hour at his office—just enough time for me to watch the Buffalo Bills lose to the Jets in overtime. Then onward to greet the rest of Jason’s family (which has become like my own), have a quick dinner with a couple of G&T’s, and get a decent night’s sleep.

The next morning everyone in Jason’s household here was off to work or school early. The place was vacated by 7:15 am, so I was able to get some business done afterwards.

But I also spent the middle of the day at the home of Pat Billington who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that is almost always fatal. I couldn’t talk at any length with her because her energy level is low and she needs rest often during the day, but we did find the on-line prayers we needed so that I could do an anointing for her. The impromptu sacrament turned out better than I imagined. We all stood around Pat’s bedside during the anointing, and Pat herself declared that this was the best gift she could possibly have received. We left the house relieved that she felt in such good spirits. (Pat passed away peacefully just two weeks later.)

That evening Joe Gomes and his wife Laura showed up for a glass of wine and something to eat. The conversation was delightful even as it touched on some important island issues. Overall, my talk with Jason confirmed that FSM is largely sitting on its duff rather than exploring future possibilities as it did in the old days when political status was a burning issue.

Before the afternoon flight back to Guam, I had lunch with Andy Dahlburg and an Irishman with an interesting career, lots of stories to tell (But what Irishman doesn’t!), and an affinity for the Philippines,. As we were walking out of the restaurant, he pulled out a flute-like instrument and played a farewell tune that had to have been Irish.

At the Honolulu airport I met someone who had been in Micronesia for years (Tom Berglin), although naturally I did not recognize him. He said some nice things about stuff I wrote and how helpful it was in orienting him to the islands. A few others I had come across in the past few days also made kind remarks. In introducing me to the wonder of ChatGPT, one of my brothers asked his phone to do a summary of what Francis X. Hezel had done. The answer, produced five seconds later, was a review of what I had done at MicSem over the years along with a couple of gratuitous compliments on my status as the foremost authority on this and that. Jason tried the same thing after dinner one night, and he got a different encomium, but one equally hyped. Thus was I introduced to the wonders of AI, while getting a swollen head. I imagine that all this recognition would have been most helpful if I had been suffering from low self-esteem—but that has never been a real problem of mine.

Until next time, then…

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About the author

Francis X. Hezel, SJ
Francis X. Hezel, SJ

Francis X. Hezel, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963. At different times he has served as high school teacher, school administrator, pastor, and regional superior to the Jesuits of Micronesia. He spent thirty years directing the Micronesian Seminar, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He has written and spoken widely about social change and its impact on island societies. He has also written several books on Micronesian history, including The First Taint of Civilization, Strangers in Their Own Land, and The New Shape of Old Island Cultures. His most recent book, Making Sense of Micronesia: The Logic of Pacific Island Culture, is available through University of Hawaii Press.