Two men met at a bus stop and struck up a conversation. One of them
complained of family problems.
Finally, the other man said, "You think you have family problems?
Listen. A few years ago I met a young widow with a grown-up
daughter, and we got married. Later my father married my
stepdaughter. That made my stepdaughter my stepmother and my father
became my stepson. Also, my wife became mother-in-law of her
"Then the daughter of my wife, my stepmother, had a son. This boy
was my half-brother because he was my father's son, but he was also
the son of my wife's daughter, which made him my wife's grandson.
That made me the grandfather of my half-brother.
"This was nothing until my wife and I had a son. Now the half-sister
of my son, my stepmother, is also the grandmother. This makes my
father the brother-in-law of my child, whose stepsister is my
father's wife. I'm my stepmother's brother-in-law, my wife is her
own child's aunt, my son is my father's nephew and I'm my own
grandfather. Now - tell me about your family problems."
I don't know if sorting out your family is a problem. A bigger issue
for many of us is that we want more from family life than just
knowing who's who, and more than we're presently getting.
One of the most common complaints I hear from families is that they
are not close. They may be close in proximity, but still not feel
close as a family. They may live next door or even in the same
house, but feel more like strangers.
Hawaiians have a powerful word for family: 'ohana. In 'ohana, people
matter. And they know it. As Lilo says in "Lilo and Stitch, "'Ohana
means family. Family means no one is left behind - or forgotten."
Families that value closeness work hard to keep anyone from feeling
left behind or forgotten.
In my family, closeness is not so much about latitude as about
attitude. We live far apart from one another, so we need a
willingness to do what it takes. We feel closest when we feel
understood, when we feel loved and when we look forward to time we
can spend together. When we succeed, no one feels left behind - or
A reader in Hawaii once wrote to tell me that the CEO of one of the
state's largest banks was considering a run for governor. Since he
was well-liked, he seemed to have a good chance of winning.
But, before filing papers, he changed his mind, stating that he
wanted to spend more time with his family. Not that elected
officials can't be family-oriented, but he reasoned he needed more
time at home than the job allowed.
Ronald A. Young, in the "Honolulu Advertiser," praised the decision.
"No matter what you accomplish in the business world or the social
world," he said, "if you fail 'ohana, then you have not accomplished
much. Failure or success does not lie in the material wealth you
provide them. It is measured by what of yourself you give to them."
And that's the question, isn't it? What of myself do I give to them?
What am I willing to give to 'ohana? Because no one should be left
behind - or forgotten.
Find Steve Goodier here: http://stevegoodier.blogspot.com/.
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