Today, July 11th, we celebrate the life force of Carolyn Sullivan, Kona Babe, Boulder Babe, Six-Pack, loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, auntie, sister, daughter, dear friend, faithful and supportive wife of 45 years.
July 4th seemed empty and melancholy this year as I recalled the annual pot luck at the Sullivan’s at Hualalai Colony – an event that was most definitely MIA this year. This morning, I placed my collection of Carol’s illustrations on my desk in an attempt to memorialize her spirit. Her beautiful handmade birthday, Christmas, New Year and July 4th greeting cards and digital invitations seemed like a talisman, willing her cheerful voice front and center in the way of a phone call or email, asking me if we were coming to her party.
Today, in Lincoln, California, Carol’s family and friends are holding a celebration of her life and I am heartsick that I cannot be there. A couple of Kona Babes who were nearby are in attendance and will represent the rest of us, scattered across the mainland and here in Hawaii.
My last phone conversation with Carol was a supportive one from her friend – and she dearly needed to talk to her girlfriends – because our Kona Babe was being hurtled in the direction of a few life changing events. I was both surprised yet grateful that she wanted to speak with me about such intimate and sobering circumstances that confused and saddened her gentle soul. I will always hold those phone conversations close to my heart. Today, however, I choose to celebrate her benevolence and also the special bond that the Kona Babes have formed over the years. Even though many have relocated to the mainland, we still keep in touch and hope to enjoy a future reunion at a convenient location.
Carol’s beautiful smile is reflected and imprinted on her children, Jodi and Mark.
And, looking at a Facebook photo of her granddaughter, Natasha (Mark’s daughter), one can plainly see the similarity, allowing one to imagine Carol as a young beauty, fresh out of Sacramento High and happily starting her career at Pacific Bell. Carol was most excited to attend Natasha’s wedding!
another photo of Natasha a few years ago while visiting the Big Island:
Cancer not only ravishes the body; it plunders the mind and spirit. Most survivors exuberantly carry the banner and Carol was at the forefront. As it turns out, today is the annual Relay for Life, happening once again at the old airport in Kona. This overnight event was on Carol’s list of must-support! Today, the Kona Babes dedicated a luminaria in her honor.
PetWalk, right up at the top of Carol’s list of causes to support, was near and dear to her heart. Animal welfare was a often a hot topic at lunches and Carol’s love of all four-legged fuzzy creatures – especially standard poodles – spoke volumes about her sweet demeanor. Annie was more than happy to accommodate her mom’s desires when it came to this event.
The annual Hospice high tea at Four Seasons Hualalai was always a popular venue for most of Kona. It gave us a chance to suit up, don a fedora, and hobnob with (mostly) ladies who were all there to have a good time and also to support a great charity. You could always count on Carol to rally the troops to find a hat, dress to the nines and be ready to bid at the silent auction.
Her colorful artistry impressed itself all over her home – both framed, and on the walls as murals. Riotous colors of tropical blossoms, island life, along with lush sunsets manifested itself from her camera lens to her brushes.
Today, we remember that Carol lived life as if it were a tribute to all that she was blessed with. She always worried that her spouse and her family were healthy and happy, making sure that her aspirations did not overshadow their needs. Carol was gracious, caring, beautiful and loving. It saddens me deeply that in the end, she had to handle a great deal of stress while fighting for her life. As I learned later, she was in a tranquil and comforting environment, surrounded by her loving family. I pray that peace and love were the last thoughts that filled her mind. Her vibrance in all of our lives will be sorely missed!! Aloha ‘oe, Carol.
The Kona Babes:
Over the last few years, several Kona Babes moved their lives closer to family on the mainland. Terri B, Sue, Cindy, Dottie, Carolyn, Tina, Barbara – did I miss anyone?? Now, with Carol’s departure, we are down to two full-time residents and six snowbirds, and those numbers are dwindling as a few more make plans to vacate the island. Nevertheless, our hearts and minds stay together thanks to the wonders of the digital age via emails, phone calls, Facebook (thank you Mark Zuckerberg) and text messaging. We remain devoted as friends and carry a deep fondness for each other, knowing that each of us is available, if needed. How can I end this tribute, except to say: Once a Kona Babe – always a Kona Babe.