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We Are Family - II
“Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” - Hawaiian saying
Meet some of my Ohana - the Spinner dolphins of Hawaii. Ohana is a Hawaiian word that translates roughly to “family” in English. But to the Hawaiian people Ohana is universal, applying not only to humans, but to plants, animals, the land and those in spirit as well. When dolphins started showing up to swim with me regularly, my Hawaiian friends nicknamed me Naia, the Hawaiian word for dolphin. They also informed me that dolphins are my spirit guides, and I should be on the lookout for any signs or messages from them (yes, more good stories to tell). Eventually my two names, Jena and Naia, became one and friends began calling me Jenaia. Feel free. I answer to both :-)
My first experience of Ohana came after one of my afternoon swims off the coast of Kiehi on Maui. I was using the outdoor public shower to rinse the saltwater from my hair when I felt a small hand tug at the bottom of my bathing suit. Opening my eyes and looking down I saw a little girl of maybe three or four with a curly crown of dark brown hair looking up at me with worried eyes. “Where’s Mommy?” she asked, tugging at my suit again.
“Oh honey, I don’t know,” I said. “What does she look like?”
Clearly annoyed, she replied, “She looks like Mommy. Where’s Mommy?” she repeated looking like she might cry.
A quick glance around showed me a half dozen or more large groups of people scattered across the park. Mommy was undoubtedly among them, but I hadn’t a clue where to start.
“Let’s find Mommy together, “ I said, wrapping a towel around my waist.
“Okay,” she said, tucking her hand in mine.
Starting with the group closest to the showers, we worked our way across the park. Along the way I learned my new friend’s name was Jade, she had a fish named Pluto and a sister named Jasmine. Each time we stopped so I could ask if anyone recognized her, Jade gave me a baleful look as if to say, “Why are you asking them? They aren’t Mommy.”
Eventually Mommy - also known as Sophia Akana - was was found and I was invited to share the family’s picnic. Sophia introduced me and asked me to tell the story of Jade’s search for Mommy. There was a lot of laughter and many thanks but not a hint of suspicion or fear. I left after a couple of hours feeling embraced and stuffed with spam musubi.
The Akanas and I stayed in touch the whole time I lived on Maui, and I had similar experiences everywhere I lived in Hawaii. My extended Ohana called me Auntie Jenaia and I grew to love the way its members asked for and offered help without hesitation. We were family, and that’s what family does for one another.
Here are two songs that capture that feeling of Ohana for me. Enjoy.
We Are Ohana - Hawaiian Band
Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World - Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole (Bruddah Iz)
So Tell Me…
Where and who is your family?
Have you ever had the experience of creating your own family?
What is your favorite family tale?
Copyright 2021 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.