Two years ago today Dick Schmidt felt dizzy and collapsed as we stood in line in Honolulu to board a plane home after our annual winter trip to Hawaii. Without warning, he died in that moment.
But two men immediately came out of the line behind us — Claudio Alvarado to monitor Dick’s then-nonexistent pulse and Salesi Maumau to perform CPR. Chris Ohta, a Hawaiian Airlines employee, ran to get an AED and returned with it to literally shock Dick back to life.
That began a chain of goodness and compassion from strangers who stunned us as much as the events of Dick’s cardiac arrest, a series of kindnesses that continues to this day. We are grateful beyond measure to Claudio and Salesi, to Chris and all the Hawaiian Airlines staffers who rushed to help that day, along with the EMS personnel, the lovely women at the AED Institute, and the tremendous medical team at Moanalua Medical Center.
Each of them, as our friend, songwriter Antsy McClain, sings, proved that “a stranger’s just a friend waiting to happen.”
Some longtime friends appeared in Honolulu to be by our sides—Makena Ongoy, Jan Lake, Andy and Leona Doughty, Cora Johnson and Connie Raub. Many others, including those of you reading this, cheered us on from afar.
Every time people ask me, “How’s Dick?” I want to respond with “alive and well.” Usually I say, “He’s doing great.” We both are. Even during a pandemic and unrest. He’s taking photos, as he always does, closer to home than on our usual travels, loving his snazzy iPhone (for which, I tease him, he had to die before he agreed to own) with its outstanding camera. (Thanks, John Thompson!)
He continues to be a great helper serving family and friends, something he’s done all his life. And he’s coming up on his 78th birthday in February, in addition to this second “rebirth-aversary,” as one of our new friends dubbed it. (Thanks, Eryn Maumau!)
We’re alive and well and so “gratitudinous,” as Dick likes to say, for all the love bestowed upon us. Thank you all.