In 1993 I took up scuba diving. In the following years I found myself in Maui a couple of times and for the 9 day trips, I spent the majority of the time on a boat with a friend learning how to really scuba dive. What they teach you in the classes to get certified teach you the basics, what Bill taught me was how to fully enjoy the time we have down where Maui was really beautiful.
My first trip out on his boat he made me feel relaxed. I noticed even though he was our captain, our dive master, our fearless leader that he had a look of uneasiness. As we neared our destination he would grab a big gallon of water and pour it over his head and begin gulping in lots of air. He admitted that he had horrible sea sickness. I remember that moment because here this guy would get on a boat 2 or 3 times a day to go scuba diving and it would make him physically ill, but he would still do it, day after day because he loved it so much. If he could get over the sea sickness, I could get over my nerves.
Bill lived in Maui, but had the thickest Texas drawl I had ever heard. It made him even more special in book. It made me smile, it still does. He would say to me, “Darlin’ don’t worry one bit, i’m here with you. All you need to do is relax…” and then he would give me a list of the beautiful things he would show me. His voice always put me at ease and when he spoke, I took it as gospel.
There was a stretch in my life when I stopped diving and after my divorce I decided it was time to get back into the water. I booked a trip that turned out to be a disaster when it came to the first dive when it came to having a dive buddy. I asked the dive masters of the boat if I was able to go down by myself. As I checked my gear and headed for the dive line I started to get nervous. As soon as my head plunged under the water and I started my decent, I heard Bill in my head. It had been a million years since we had dove together, but there he was, “Darlin, don’t hold the dive line too tight because it’s going to jerk you around.” At that moment I got teary. For the experience I wasn’t letting slip past me and for the Texas drawl coaxing away my frazzled nerves.
Lester and I made our way to Maui last year and the whole trip was centered around when we could hang out with Bill and see the Aloha reef. He obliged us and the first trip I was sitting there nervous again. Lester asked why I was nervous and thought it was dumb. Bill comes up and sits down next to me and says, “What’s the matter, Darlin?” I told him and he totally talked me out and the feelings subsided as he made me laugh because he said, “I am too.” I love that man.
At the end of the trip, I told him I wanted to come back for my birthday. I didn’t make that trip though.
Today, Bill left this earth. It rips my heart out to say that. He was one of the neatest people that graced this earth. His laughter, his stories. Everyone has a Bill story. I have a handful of them that I hold dear to my heart and each one was his laughter.
He was full of patience and understanding. He had a huge heart and wasn’t afraid to hug and tell you that he cared and that he loved you.
You never questioned how Bill felt about you. He was loyal and real. I will never regret a single moment, a single hug, any conversation I had with him.