Featured Column
Week of 8.15.2005
Simple memories treasured
          Thirty years ago a beloved friend of mine, a beautiful woman of some 70-years of age, advised me about how to live my days. By this advanced stage of her life, my friend Zaida Male had acquired wisdom far beyond her years. I wasn’t the only one in Hawaii who turned to Zaida for advice. Zaida had retired from the advertising agency business. She no longer wrote a column for Honolulu’s largest daily newspaper. She did continue writing books about life and how to live it. She spent most of her days sitting with younger folk, listening to their problems and offering gentle, sage advice. Zaida didn’t offer solutions – she tendered philosophies of how to face your problems. She helped “her children” by proposing a way to think about resolution. Zaida would sit in her overstuffed chair, wearing a comfortable Hawaiian Muu Muu. Her hands would remain still as she listened to her guest. Her eyes would keep focused on whomever was speaking. She rarely interrupted, only if she needed clarification of the problem. She listened with all of her being. Her guests knew that Zaida was at complete attention to them. If you sat with Zaida she was yours.
          Zaida lived in a beautiful old Hawaiian style hotel. On this day we sat in a quiet area of her lobby. Soft Hawaiian breezes floated inside, cooling the rays of the glowing tropical sun . Zaida sat comfortably with her hands in her lap, the tips of her two index fingers touching each other as did the tips of her thumbs.
           No problems were discussed this day. We talked about what was really important in life. I brought up the obvious: Family, children, friends, health. Zaida smiled and said, “Of course.”
          Then she leaned forward and said, “Time, that’s what’s important.” Then I leaned forward and said, “Sure, time is very important.”
          Now Zaida leaned even closer to me and said, “Time is our greatest gift to those we love and care for. We can talk about caring and love, but when we give our time to others we are honestly demonstrating how much love we are capable of. When we give our time we are giving a part of ourselves.” Then Zaida leaned back into her soft chair and said, “My gift to those I love, like you, is my time.”
           Zaida and I talked more on that tranquil Hawaiian afternoon and then it was time for me to go. I kissed her cheek and offered my Aloha. I walked on the warm sands of the beach in Waikiki for an hour and thought about what Zaida had said. 
           Two weeks later Zaida and I were again sitting in her lobby. We talked of the weather, of business, of the changes in her beloved Hawaii. I said to her, “I’ve thought a lot about what you said about time. I think I know what you meant.” Zaida, got that smile that didn’t need words. Her sparkling blue eyes said it all. They spoke to me, “Good, now don’t forget about giving your time.”
          Then, my dear friend reached out for my hand and held it tightly inside both of hers and said, “Give your time and always do things that add to your book of memories.”
          Years passed, Zaida died and “her children” were left with memories of a remarkable person. I frequently take out Zaida’s book and read of her wisdom. I gaze at her photograph and feel that she is still with me, sitting in her favorite chair. Looking so beautiful in her Hawaiian Muu Muu, her hands in her lap, her eyes capturing me.
           It took me a few years of thinking about what Zaida had said to me before I really felt and understood what she was teaching me.
          “Book of memories.”
          I haven’t forgotten. When my lovely daughter and I have our weekly luncheon together and talk for two hours about our lives I think of Zaida and what she taught me. I don’t take our time together for granted. We are exchanging loving gifts of our time.
          When my son phones and says, “Dad, how about lunch today?” I eagerly anticipate our time together. We can discuss the weather or a war. The important thing is that we’re together, exchanging our gifts of time.
          When my wife speaks to me I want to give her my time, my attention, my love.
When the sun is warm and I feel the relief of a gentle breeze I often sit quietly and think of Zaida. I see her in her Hawaiian dress, hands in her lap, eyes on me. I think of all the time she gave me.
           I think of how much she is a part of my “Book of memories.”
My friend Zaida Male
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger