Fish out of water

“I love you, you love me.” You can hear the familiar childhood song up the walkway, where the singer’s face is hidden by bushes that line the path. But we all know who it is. Harry comes to snorkel at Hanauma Bay every morning, without fail, before 7am. Though he insists we call him Ow. But Ow isn’t like all the other regulars that arrive with the sun. This 85-year-old comes with his share of worldly advice.

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“I just don’t know how you guys manage. You got so many people, I don’t know how you can manage.”But he doesn’t wait for an explanation of our tram business operations, he moves right along without missing a beat into a new rendition of “I love you, you love me,” almost as if that was how he was planning to end the conversation all along.

Ow is disabled, as I’m sure many 85-year-old human beings are, so he gets to ride the tram for free. However he insists that we wait for other passengers so we don’t make a special trip just for him. He even takes it upon himself to help drum up business whenever he sees anyone else attempting to make the epic journey down the hill to the beach. “Going down! Two dollars, all day! Going down! It’s a hard walk down the hill!! Going down!” followed by some elderly advice, ” you guys got to be loud so they know you’re here. I just don’t know how you manage.” quickly followed by another rendition of “I love you, you love me.”

So how does a man who can barely walk up the ramp into our handicap vehicles swim from one end of the bay to the other? Well Harry explains it best, “It’s better in the water. It’s not so hard like on land. In the water I’m free and I can move.” I can’t imagine being that old and having a body that works better in the water. Like a fish forced to live in land.

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“When you get old you start to fall apart. I’m gettin’ old. You betta live your life now.” Ow knows that Chris and I are married since he sees us almost everyday. And he always reminds us, “When you have kids that’s when your life really begins. It’s not always easy, but it’s good. Your life doesn’t start until you start havin’ babies.”

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I love the consistency of seeing Ow every morning. He’s so sweet and jovial. I love hearing about how his swim was. I listen intently when he tells me about how things use to be or how his wife hates that he won’t get a hearing aid. I laugh every time he talks about his kids and says how great the girls were and are but, “I don’t know about my son… He’s just, I don’t know. But the girls are great.”

And I think I will take his recommendation to swim more often and spend time with the water. “It’s like the water is breathing the way the waves move, like it’s alive.”