I’ve had my DNA done and though I am many things, Hawaiian is not one of them. I actually learned this phrase watching Disney’s Lilo and Stitch with my grandchildren. Wanting to make sure Disney got it right, I looked it up and found this…
” ‘Ohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.” ~ Wikipedia
“…remember one another,” no phrase could be more fitting.
Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to bring my parents back to our home state of New Jersey to visit family. Each of my parents has one sibling there, my Dad’s only remaining brother and my Mom’s sister. Dad is one of 15 children, 12 from my grandfather’s first marriage (can hardly imagine why his first wife died) and 3 from his second marriage. My Dad is in the middle of the second batch. Mom is the youngest of 3, all girls. They are all getting older and enjoy their time together no matter how brief the visit.
We flew from Orlando to Newark. I love my home state and no matter where I live, I think NJ will always have a sense of “home” to me, but guys, I have to say, the highways there are really dirty. We saw beautiful forsythia bushes along Rte. 78 in Newark that looked like they were being fertilized with newspapers and beer cans. It was a sad and sorry sight. Our first stop was our hotel, the beautiful Red Roof Inn in Parsippany on Rte. 46 and yes, I am being facetious. For those that don’t know, it’s an inexpensive hotel which we remembered as being fairly new when we lived there. Of course, that was 20 years ago. Still, it was clean and the beds were very comfortable, so we were fine. The cyclone fence down the median of Rte. 46 was a bit of an eyesore, but that’s probably just me.
First sibling visit, Aunt Lois, Mom’s older sister. Aunt Lois lives with her daughter, my cousin, Donna. Fun fact, Mom and both of her sisters all had daughters within 6 weeks of each other. Aunt Nancy had my cousin, Cher the end of August; Mom had me mid-October; and Aunt Lois had Donna the beginning of November. Each of us girls are now happily caring for each of our mothers in one way or another, just like our mother’s cared for their mother. Though Grandma Moon lived with my parents, Aunt Nancy and Aunt Lois were still a part of her life. It’s what we were taught as family.
After breakfast on our second day, we drove by our old neighborhood, Grove Place in Whippany. It has changed some, but all of the houses are still there and mostly familiar. We recalled who lived in each when we lived there. Most of the neighbors have moved on or passed on, a few are still owned by the original family. Amazingly, the neighbors on either side of our house are originals. We stopped in for a surprise visit to one of them. It was only 9:00 am and though they were still in their pajamas, they invited us into their living room and we remembered life as we knew it back then. It was a brief, but wonderful visit!
From Whippany to Ledgewood to see my Dad’s brother, Uncle Nick and his wife, Aunt Irma, probably one of the funniest women I know. My cousin Robert and his wife Anna were also there, because they, too, are now caregivers. When asked about food, we told them a light snack would be fine, but they are Italian, and there is no such thing. So we ate and we talked. We laughed and we reminisced. My Dad and his brother had some time to themselves sitting on the couch and talking about life as they now know it. It was precious. It is family.
A quick nap at the hotel and off to dinner at our old home in Boonton, now owned by Cliff’s sister, Carrie and her husband, Greg. When we lived in Boonton, we owned this house together. They lived upstairs, we lived down, one house, two families, and only two bathrooms. All the neighbors knew was that there were 9 children in that house and none of them went to school. They were never sure who belonged to who, but they were always the best of neighbors. When we moved to Florida, the Babcocks bought us out and I’m so glad they did. Though it’s different from when we were there, it’s still the house where we raised our family and still filled with the precious people we did life with.
Our last day included breakfast with my sister Jeannine, her husband Dave, and their daughter, Melody. Followed by another nap, and lunch with a bunch of friends that we went to church with, because they, too are family in the purest sense of ‘Ohana.
In each visit we came together to remember. We came together because we are drawn together. We came together because we are family, all of us…together. Because whatever else you may call it, family really is a very big deal!