Ohana Means Family….

I talk about my family here often. They are what makes me “me” and they are an integral part of the fabric of my life. But my family is not a traditional one. It is something my husband and I have created over the years. Some members have stayed forever. Some have gone their separate ways. But while they are here they are family.

So how do I define the word “family”? One of my favorite animated films of all times is “Lilo & Stitch”. I think the definition of family in that movie speaks to my heart more than anything. “Ohana means family–no one gets left behind.”

I have created my own ohana. In Hawaii the word “ohana” means family but it doesn’t just mean your immediate family. It can mean all those that live under your roof or a family unit you have created. A valued friend can be part of your ohana.  A group of close friends can become a ohana. But the meaning is clear–family is family.

My actual family unit consists of my husband, myself, and our two daughters. My ohana is much more diverse than that and encompasses children and friends who have become family to us over the years. And my ohana has no race, age, or religious qualifications–if I take you in you are in for life or for however long you want to be here.

Growing up in a small town I never met people of different ethnic backgrounds. My father was extremely racist and I found him to be reprehensible and I vowed I would never be like him. When I went off to college I finally began to see the world in all the colors of the rainbow and I loved it. I had friends that were from the Middle East, China, Greece, Bahamas, Jamaica, and all over the United States. It was amazing and I discovered that people are people first–race, religion, or anything else is a distant second. This lesson carried over after college and my friends and family reflect that world view…

I often have people look at my husband or myself strangely when we take our grand-daughter places. DriDri is black and we are not. My god children are mixed and live with us.  I don’t see the fact that they are different from me–I see the person that they are and I just love them. The diversity in my family means I have no boundaries or limits on our love–I love them for who they are and what they bring to my life. I could not imagine my life without my DriDri. She is absolutely a joy and lights up every day with her brilliant smile and wonderful sassy personality! She is definitely in my ohana!

So who is in your ohana? Maybe you have a writer’s group you belong to that is more family than business associates? Or maybe you are like us and collect the strays and misfits along the way and give them a place to call home…

These are three of my grand children. The one sticking her tongue out? She’s half Mexican. The little guy in the middle? His mom is mixed. And the one on the end? That is my DriDri.  Ohana means family–welcome to mine…