O’hana

July 14, 2018

I asked the question. I asked my Dad to share his perspective on the call from my Mom when she told him she was pregnant. I have been hesitant to ask him in more detail about the infamous call but I knew I couldn’t neglect having this critical conversation any longer.

He provided insight into conversations he and my Mom had prior to her becoming pregnant. He shared that they were both young and neither were interested in starting a family right away. He said he felt when my Mom called from the mainland to share the news she was pregnant that she was very clear with him she was continuing with the pregnancy. He hinted that she almost presented it as “spite” and hadn’t seemed open to having him in my life as she raised me. He said he never considered she would continue with the pregnancy but then choose adoption.

He took full responsibility for not doing what was best for me. He shared with me that had he known she wasn’t going to raise me as her daughter that his family would have stepped up to care for me. He went on to say that o’hana is very important in the Hawaiian culture and they don’t abandon family. He also joked that if his Mom were still alive she would be hitting him upside the head scolding him for not responding differently to the call from my Mom had she known.

I asked why my brother, the oldest of this sibling pack, hadn’t been named after my Dad. My Dad shared that he felt I was out there and he believed that subconsciously he was saving his name for me, his first born.

It’s difficult to recall conversations and feelings from a year ago let alone 43 years ago but my Dad’s emotions felt genuine. While I know it’s not productive, my initial reaction to this conversation was anger and blame towards my Mom. Why hadn’t she told him she was giving me up, that she couldn’t raise me alone, that her family wasn’t willing to stand by her side to raise me. In some ways, I understand why I haven’t felt any connection with my Mom’s siblings but why I do feel so connected to my Dad’s siblings. My Aunty and Uncle’s have embraced me, immersed me into our family and they have demonstrated without hesitation what o’hana means to them.

Ironically, my sister’s convinced me to get my first tatoo last Christmas. They wanted to ensure we were bound together as sisters. I felt drawn to include the word o’hana having just discovered my Hawaiian roots. It seems that including o’hana permanently in my tattoo on my arm was meant to be.

 

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