The cold New England winter morning...
Fresh snow having fallen throughout the night, provided ideal conditions for two young brothers to venture through woods and go ice skating, maybe even practice ice hockey.
As a twelve year old being home during school break for the Christmas holidays I felt quite smart when I said to my younger brother, David, ‘Instead of our fingers freezing in the cold, we should lace up our ice skates in the warmth of home instead of carrying them a mile through the woods to the pond.’
‘Great idea,’ David said, of course he would agree with his older brother no matter what the ‘brilliant’ idea was.
Sitting beside the Christmas Tree in the warmth of our festive Living Room, David and I laced up our ice skates, quite proud of our brilliant idea. As Irish Twins, my brother David and I did everything together. Our single mother, never earning more than minimum wage, worked hard all the time, or as she taught us, ‘There is no such thing as hard work, you just do what you gotta do in life, and never complain.’ I don’t recall my brother and I ever complaining, nor can I recall my brother and I ever doing without, our mother always made it work, even when the chips were down. I learned to believe there is no force equal to that a determined woman, and our mother was more than determined, she was an optimist, no matter what.
David and I laced up our skates, grabbed our hockey sticks and snow shovel to clean off the freshly fallen snow on the small pond, and headed out the door. The new snow was crisp and cold and blanketed the floor of the woods like a white carpet. Beneath the carpet of snow however we couldn’t see the rocks, roots, nor branches and logs beneath the snow that made it slippery to walk on the thin blades of the ice skates. My brother David and I would walk a few steps, get caught on something beneath the surface of the snow, trip, and fall repeatedly. Hard headed and determined, just like our mother had taught us, we persevered nonetheless. Took a bit of time, but haven’t fallen, risen many times, we ventured again repeatedly with determination and we eventually made it through the woods in our backyard to the small frozen pond at the end of the forest.
David was eager to ice skate and quickly got to work cleaning off the fresh snow on the small frozen pond. It was when he got out toward the middle of the small pond that I heard David fall through the ice into the frozen water and scream for help. I had to get him out of the frozen water right away, something bad was about to happen. I raced to my brother’s aid, the ice gave way beneath me and I too became immersed in the frozen water. I recall to this day never feeling the effect of the freezing water, ‘you do what you gotta do’, and I did.
The water depth of the small pond allowed me to trudge to my brother David’s rescue. He was shaking violently from the cold. I grabbed David, through him over my shoulder and directed us to the edge of the small pond. Everything below the surface of the water, the leaves, the logs, the branches and rocks were like walking on grease while wearing thin blades of ice skates. As I carried my brother to the edge of the pond we fell in the water over and over again. Getting David out of the water and back home was my focus, should I not make it back before severe hypothermia set in David would suffer. I became a force equal to that of a determined brother. With David slung over my shoulder I began the determined process of carrying him while waking in ice skates, repeatedly falling from the unbalanced and slippery conditions that laid beneath the white carpet of the snow. I would lose my balance, fall, and rise again and again, each time protecting my brother as we fell. My mantra became, ‘no matter what’, a mantra that would stay with me for the rest of my life. To this day, forty-nine years later, I still exercise ‘no matter what’ in all that I set out to accomplish.
No matter what I was going to get David home, and I did.
When I wrote my book, Pride, about our family history going back five hundred years, the first person to receive a copy of my book was my brother, David. He had been living 1,500 miles away in Florida with his wife and three children for twenty plus years. Two days after receiving my book David called me and said, “I want to come home, and work together.” I was so excited!
The next day I received a phone call that my brother David had a heart attack and died. The last words he spoke to me were, “I want to come home and work together”. David’s last words would repeat themselves to me and over and over again, and for the last six years I have responded to the ‘I want to work together’ in the production of the book David and I wrote together called Optimistic Vibe.
David’s last words, “I want to come home” is the reason behind Tiny Home Hawai’i. The ‘home’ that David is coming home to is what I am building today. In our book, Optimistic Vibe, I am focused not on the profit and greed of a business, instead, David and I spent four and half years with two universities reinventing today’s common Business Model into a never before seen collaborative project that addresses social concerns, just like our eleven generations ago grandfather di at Plymouth Rock when he welcomed the Pilgrims from the Mayflower, as I spelled out in my book ‘Pride’.
The first social concern David and I are addressing is for our mother: Oppression of Woman. When our mother struggled with trying to make ends meet while earning no more than minimum wage the effects of opportunity and homelessness plagued us. I am well-versed with child abuse from my father, but nothing he did could equal the effect my mother’s fear would have on my David me as children. Fact is, the fear that a single mother must endure when society looks down at her as a burden and treats her poorly goes right through the mother into the heart of the child and stays there a lifetime. For our mother’s eightieth birthday David and I gave our mother the Tiny Home Sisterhood, an opportunity of self-reliance for single mothers in need of a home and a decent paying job with training… One Hand Up.
My mother recently told me that my Great Spirit is using my passion to open doors to carry David home to our Tiny Home Hawai'i. This week I traveled six thousand miles from Hawai’i to the East Coast of the Mainland to visit my mother and retrieve my brother David’s ashes. I have endured much to launch Tiny Home Hawai’i and David and I are now at the finish line, my courage equals my strength to persevere, when I fall I rise each time, no matter what I will dig deep until David’s ashes honor our home, David’s resting place is at our ‘Garden In Paradise”. The reason for the name ‘Garden In Paradise is that the acronym is GIP, which is David’s nickname, he was always known as ‘Gip’.
I love Gip.