Maui in the rainy season is a sleepy place. (It is hard to imagine it being sleepier than normal, but if you can, it is.) Shortly after a squall the air is ion charged and has that clean smell. Toss in the sea spray, rustling palm fronds and a chirping mynah bird or two and you have the Angulo’s beachfront driveway. You may, at this point, call me obsessive about surroundings, but when they are this special-so magical that you can lean into the surreal by bending left or right, to me it’s the waking point in a dream.
Today’s journey takes us to the oceanside bungalow of Ed and Patty Angulo.
Ed, as you may know, is one of windsurfings most prolific and celebrated designer/shapers. He and his wife Patty are also the parents of Mark, Andy and Josh. Mark and Josh are two of wavesailings most photographed sailors, and Andy, a young artist.
But we are here to see Patty. It can be said that Patty Angulo is the person behind the person behind the Angulo brothers, but that would not only be linear, it would also be unfair. Patty is the center of the Angulo family, spiritual advisor, familial negotiator, mother. An afternoon with her is a chance to see the family distillate, to listen to the thoughts of a person who has raised three kids, a bunch of calabash family members, and now, perhaps, for a brief moment in her life, gets a chance to stop and consolidate her experience.
For Patty, all the crazy newness and glitzyness of a lofty windsurfing family has become, well, commonplace. She is an old hand at the very tough game of raising a family close to the word of Christ while they expand windsurfing’s horizon. Patty greets us graciously, and ushers us into the Angulo house. (Shoes off please.)
You would think that the house of the Angulo’s would somehow reflect a surfer image. At one time, I am sure it has, (especially during the early 80’s when Ed Angulo was the shaper behind the HiFly Juggernaut.) Now, however the kids have moved out, and Patty and Ed have captured a quiet space for themselves. “The house was so different when the kids were around.” She laughs. No kidding. Today’s Angulo home is immaculate. The only thing out of place at this moment is the newest trophy in the Angulo collection–Mark’s first place at a recent wavesailing event. Their living room looks out onto fifty yards of grass and coconut trees. Beyond that, the Pacific.
Here Ed and Patty begin to collect the annuity on their labor. Choices made many years ago and fought very hard for, are beginning to pay off. Now her gear remains rigged on the lawn, since sailing is no longer a huge family production. “I get a chance to get out on the water after work, I don’t worry about it-getting out there and sailing. Sometimes I’ll just pick up the stuff and go,” She flicks her hand and nods her head towards the ocean.
The journey set out upon many years ago was the search to raise their family close to the word of Christ. Hard or not, successful or not, ended or not, here, Patty has found a moment to enjoy herself. Upon this foundation and family, she is managing the process and surveying the field that is continually being expanded by her children growing outward.
The Angulo’s have been following the word of Christ since Ed’s earliest shaping days. His is the trademark fish and “Jesus Loves You” on the bottom of every board he makes. Early on, they were faced with raising their children in the Christian faith, while at the same time letting them cut loose as much as possible (In the Surf/Windsurf idiom). Basic rule number one, “It comes down to being Christ-like in everything we do,” she says, “But it was hard, I have these three radical sons! For awhile they thought they could do anything they wanted, but they didn’t have the maturity level to make decisions.” She continues, “But even though they stray away, they return. Just the other day, Josh came in and wanted to get a bible because he was going away, and he took some time to pray with us for his trip.”
You get the feeling that it wasn’t always so easy for her when she was going through it, and to be sure every day is a new challenge. But now, even as the process is unfolding, Patty can see that at least the directions correct, the movement, forward. Whether you are there or not, I’d still call that a success. Now she (and Ed) get to take credit for the hard work and the long hours of waiting for their sons to return to the fold. At those moments, it seems family is the key. Their current reward is their unconditional repore with each other. (Just as Patty leans and opens her mouth to speak, a tremendous downpour begins, causing her to pause, and as it stops moments later she continues, fresh ions abound.) “We just went to dinner the other night, and had the best time. Each of the sons is so different, but we communicate back and forward. We were the loudest table in the restaurant, laughing and telling stories. One of the best things about it now though, is there is another girl in the family. Now there’s two of us, and she (Patty’s Daughter-in-Law) was laughing as hard as anyone else! We were crying we laughed so much!” (Done that lately with your whole family?)
Patty and Ed became involved with windsurfing at a competition level when their son Mark began to compete. “When he first began competing I remember seeing a very small kid out there, with no harness on, wavesailing.” Mark had more mentors on the beach than anyone, but I think the no harness thing was Ed’s idea. Foundation, foundation, foundation.
Mark’s successes were closely followed by Patty and Ed, to the point of heavy involvement. “When Mark would race, we were very involved. We would check his heats, make sure he would go out on the water, everything.” But as Josh grew, so did Patty’s idea of what supporting her child in the competitive environment meant. “Josh, somehow, was different. He would be there early, completely set up and ready to go. Now he is completely independent-he jumps on a plane to Europe like he is taking a bus across the Island!” (She shrugs) For Patty, what was once heavy involvement has now turned to quiet support in Josh’s judgment. Now, her son’s failures are his own failures, his successes, his own successes. When he needs advice, or someone to talk to, at least Patty knows it’s usually her.
Which is a new level risen to. Parent as confidant, parent as counselor. “More and more often now, I see the boys when they have a question, I listen and give them advice on how better to approach the problem-not just give them the answer. The boys meet Ed on a water level, different from me.” “They talk to me more about girls, their jobs, other things that are tough for them. Together, though, we all get the job done. As a family.”
“I’m so happy I can say that now, because so many people who see my kids don’t know the other side of them, the side that has recently come back to us. Only now are we reaping our efforts. We never tried to close the door on anything they wanted to do. We say, ‘hey, we don’t approve of this,’ and ‘we don’t approve of that,’ but we wouldn’t say ‘no’ outright.”
To delve further would be to hurt the simple truth. Patty and Ed have three great kids. They put their trust in Christ and raised their children to his teachings. As well, they let their children go and find out for themselves. It hasn’t been easy over the years, but family, family family and foundation, foundation, foundation, are serving them. Now she can smile until the next big thing. Now, she can go out and assist, help out, and listen. Oh! and slip in the occasional sail.
Later that night, as I ate dinner with some friends, a girl began to tell a story to the table about her first experiences on Maui. She could not have known I had just spoken to Patty Angulo. She took a sip from her glass and started. “I was so scared-There I was, the first time ever in the waves, floating around scared to death. Patty Angulo sailed right up to me and said ‘Are you alright?’ She was so sincere out there, she sounded so in control. She sat there, talked me through my waterstart, and helped me get in. I will never forget that about her.”
Hey, what can you say about that? Had dinner with your whole family lately?