Fare Thee Well, George Harrison

Friday, November 30, 2001
Down the Hill


You say good-bye, and I say hello.

George "Keoki" Harrison, 
Lower Nâhiku, Hâna, Maui

I woke up to say hello to this chilly winter's day to learn that George had said good-bye yesterday afternoon.

"All things must pass,
 none of life's strings can last. 
So I must be on my way and face another day. 

Now the darkness only stays at nighttime,
in the morning it will fade away. 
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time.
It's not always going to be this grey. 

All things must pass, all things must pass away." 

~ All Things Must Pass, George Harrison

Across town at a friend's home in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, George Harrison, at age 58, transitioned to the other side of the veil.  He had valiantly battled throat, lung and brain cancer brought on by a lifelong -- from age 12 -- smoking habit.

George said, "I got it purely from smoking. I gave up cigarettes many years ago, but started again for a while and then stopped in 1997." 

George Harrison
2/25/1943 - 11/29/2001
>> Dash

Those addictive cancer sticks have claimed yet another one of my dearest:  Aunty Chick, Uncle Ted, Honoli`i Gramma, Ruth Montgomery, Walt Disney, now George.  Grrrrr.

It is 6:30 am and 45 degrees outside. I've lit a candle for George, glowing, flickering beside me as I write, and symbolic of my parting wish: 

May George's path Home be cleared and brightly lit. 

Today's journal entry is my tribute to a friend who has been in the background of my life, exerting his quiet, powerful influence, as was his style.  

He told us not to worry, and even when death seemed imminent, I didn't. He had lots of spiritual backbone. He was well-grounded in his faith.  He was prepared. He too had a glimpse and knew the way Home. I find comfort in these words from his family*

"He left this world as he lived it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends." 

* His beautiful humanitarian Mexican-American wife, Olivia Trinidad Arias Harrison, born in 1948 in California, who empowered him and saved him from a knife-wielding intruder in 1999, and his look-alike son Dhani, 23, born in 1978, who gave his father's life great meaning, were at George's side.

His parting message was beautifully simple and well said:

 "Everything else can wait, 
but the search for God cannot wait. 
Love one another."  

He battled hard. He was brave, keeping that wry, often irreverent, dry English humor that spawned Monty Python films. Just two weeks ago, he was cracking jokes, laughing.

George came into my life in February, 1964, when the Beatles hit the American scene when I was 12 and he was 20. He was the non-flashy, brilliant lead guitarist, who taught John how to play the guitar. Back then, I couldn't tell you why he instantly became my favorite Beatle, but I was smitten.

My friends were incredulous that "The Quiet, Shy One" was my favorite Beatle, and not cute Paul, or brash John, or funny Ringo. Even then, although he was the baby -- the youngest -- of The Fab Four, I sensed his gravity, his significance, his conscientiousness. George was the touched one, the advanced soul with unfathomable depth, sometimes perceived as enigmatic, and quiet, unassuming strength. 

He was the reluctant celebrity who didn't suck up the limelight, more a musician than a rock star. I found his understatedness and reticence appealing. When he wanted to be, he was garrulous and I was charmed.

His life had an uncanny relevance to mine. Descended on one side from generations of Eastern spiritual followers and leaders, I was steeped in its spiritualism and mysticism. George, the spiritual explorer and mystic, embraced a spirituality that I took completely for granted, helping me to become aware and open to its gifts. 

Loving, loving humanity and deeply spiritual, he helped to put me on a good path in life and stay on it.

I liked how he kept the whole picture -- The Big One -- in sight and in perspective. To the end, he didn't care about the fame aspect. From afar,  I've admired how he remained true to his soul, in spite of the temptations and the distractions that accompanied Beatlemania and its fall-out:

"Fame is not the goal," he articulated. "Money can buy a bit of freedom, but it is not the answer.  The answer is how to get peace of mind and how to be happy."

When VH1's Bill Flanagan asked George, if, as a believer in reincarnation, he thought the Beatles must have done wonderful things in their past lives to be so blessed in this one?

He said he looked at it differently. He said:

"If you really believe that we're here to find enlightenment, to figure out God's Will then what could be more distracting, what could be more destructive than that to have the whole world laid out before you.  All those temptations really just get in the way of finding the true meaning in life."

"In every human is a quest to find the answers to why are we here,  who am I, where did I come from, where am I going.  That to me became the most important thing in my life.  Everything became secondary."

"He was a very lovely man who didn't suffer fools gladly
 and didn't like interferences in his private life. "
~ Paul McCartney

The mania never sat well with George. "Let's look for what is more important than celebrity and fame," he said.  Seek and ye shall find, and in seeking, George found what was more important in an unlikely place for a bloke from Liverpool, the fourth child of a bus driver, Harold, and his wife, Louise. Half a world away, in my homeland, he found peace of mind and happiness.

An Englishman, a Liverpudlian no less, in the lushness of remote Heavenly Hâna, Maui is incongruous, but in its tropical splendor and seclusion, away from the grind, grime, games and grudges, his soul found its Earthly home, its soothing balm.  There, he was unleashed from his celebrity tethers, and he was free to be. 

>> Click here, then scroll down to a photo of his Hâna home

Inspired by the waterfalls, greenery, and warm people, he poured his Aloha for Hâna into the song, Soft-Hearted Hana:

I fell in love with my Soft-Hearted Hana
She entered right in through my heart
And now although we're miles apart
I still feel her.
~ Full lyrics

Right now, I smile, remembering George as a Traveling Wilbury, a key member of the best tongue-in-cheek band ever with the most stellar and motley of rock talent: Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. Committed more to the music than individual glory, this group of friends recorded their songs at his other home, the former 19th century Gothic convent in Henley-on-Thames in England, Friar Park.

Just think, today, George, Roy Orbison, and John Lennon and are reuniting, maybe jamming, with Brian Epstein as manager?

George's legacies, the prodigious fruit of his songwriting gift, will allow me to keep hearing his soft, melodic voice:    

Here Comes the Sun  
While My Guitar Gently Weeps  
All Things Must Pass
Think For Yourself 

I Need You,  from the Help soundtrack
If I Needed Someone, from the Rubber Soul album
WithinYou, Without You, from the Sgt. Pepper album

and my favorite:

My Sweet Lord 
"...deep, joyous, spiritual, uplifting and effortlessly brilliant!"
~ From the album, All Things Must Pass  

Click the above linked songs for streaming audio.
Click  here for more sound clips

"George never took so much from the world 
that he would be unwilling to let it go."
~ Bill Flanagan

While we no longer occupy the same dimension except in my dreams, I have not lost George as a friend, as we'll be together spiritually. I know this, as George's last message was Jesus' : Love one another.

"And in the end, the love you take 
is equal to the love you make."

He's on Cloud 9, just a breath away, doing his best to make love come to everyone...to you. The ties that bind...

Ob la di, ob la da ...live goes on... Yes, it does, George, but you'll be sorely missed. Your songs will sustain me until we meet again.

Love you forever and forever 
Love you with all my heart 
Love you whenever we're together 
Love you when we're apart. 
~ From the song, I Will

I'll keep reminding myself today and in the days to come: "Faithful friends never leave...they just run ahead to wait for us in a happier place."   

One day, we will garden together. "Forty years goes like that," George said, as he snapped his fingers.  

I hear you.



>> Washington Post's retrospective online visuals and audio
>> LA Times coverage and multimedia 
Sara's Lyrics Website  
>> Beatles lyrics
>> Stories
>> about.com: Links
>> more links
>> Hari Scruff's Website
>> salon.com's article
>> TheBeatlesWebsite.com: George's Biography
>> chronology
>> beatles.com
>> The Beatles Music: Audio Files

>>Delphi Forum:  True Beatles Fans


"Life is a Gift."

Aloha 'oe e Keoki, me ka Mahalo,
Author Unknown

P.S.  If you would like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to this journal entry, you may do it here.  

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
September Morn © 2001