What does it take for an 80-year-old person to feel like a kid again? Treating four grandparents to a weeklong vacation at the Westin Kā‘anapali Resort in Maui, Hawai‘i. My husband and our daughter have been to the Hawaiian Islands numerous times. For Spring Break 2014, however, we decided to take the four grandparents with us. As we got closer to the trip, their anticipation turned to worry and anxiety. None of them travels much. I told them about our activities in Maui. And the convenience of staying at the Westin where suites have a full kitchen. But what they focused on was the fact that Maui does not have a Chinatown or an Asian grocery store. At the airport, between the four of them, they had packed 5 pounds of rice, two-dozen meat buns, and bags of instant noodles. As we boarded the plane, the trepidation was visible on their faces. However, what I discovered on this trip was that even the most routine-bound, traditional seniors could embrace new experiences. The kitchen amenities at the Westin Villas let them cook their rice. They also ate dinner outdoors under the starry sky on a breezy night. They tried Hawaiian food and talked endlessly about the local delicacy—the mysterious poi. They put on swimwear that I purchased for them and actually stood in the pool. My mother sat in a whirlpool spa for the very first time and said it was wonderful for her back pain. They hiked up to the Haleakalā volcano. When they were standing on the beach and saw a beautiful sunset, all their chatter stopped as they stared in awe and silence. But the most incredible moment happened when we went to the beach. They had grown up in rural China. Their lives were riddled with struggles and sacrifices—they had never sat on a beach. Now, here they were on a Hawaiian island, sitting on the sand, letting the waves wash over them. They were laughing the whole time, playing in the sand and running from the waves. There was only laughter and joy, as they felt like kids again.
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