“Ohana means family. And family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”… right? So how is it possible that the man that I now refer to as just my biological father, doesn’t understand a concept so simple it’s taught to children in Disney movie?
Family is a term I struggle with, even now as a grown adult. By definition, a family is a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household. But for me, a family is a group of people who don’t need to be related by blood. Family looks out for each other. My ohana consists of a lot of people; we don't always fit together perfectly, but we still fit together. My step-father, Junior, and I didn't get along at first, but we got there eventually.
I remember my mom introducing us. Well, kind of. He mostly just appeared out of nowhere, and my mom told us to get along because he'd be coming around a lot. I think she thought I'd have some kind of territorial breakdown over some random guy stepping into my house. I’m not going to lie, I vividly remember not liking him at all. He was weird, he listened to his music about 18 decibels too loud, and he watched "Family Guy." (Fun fact: I still hate the show because of how often he would watch it. He used to eat all our food and take up all of my mom’s time—I was decidedly anti-Junior.)
And then, I got older. My biological father was never on time to pick my sister and I up on visitation weekends and became more distant. Junior, though, he stepped up to the plate. He used to take me for drives where we’d talk the whole time. He’d tell me how important self-respect is, and how difficult—but necessary—it is to accept that sometimes life just doesn't work out the way we want it to. He did the things I suppose my biological father should've been doing. He met my boyfriends and would do the “dad” thing. You know, the whole, "If you don’t bring my daughter back alive, I'll know where to look,” spiel.
I have fond memories of Junior, mostly. (I say mostly because nobody is perfect, even if he'd tell you otherwise.) Every Sunday, he’d cook steak, watch some football, and laugh loudly and unrepentant. One of my fondest memories is this one time he started crying, literally almost sobbing over a good piece of steak. Mind you, this is a grown man who doesn’t cry at funerals, but cries at a good steak. Incredible, right?
I think about these formative moments a lot now that i’m an adult and about to graduate from college. Here’s the thing: I never called Junior “dad” until recently. My sister realized quicker than I did, but I figured he’s earned the title, and after all these years, I think he deserves to know that both his daughters love him.
When I cross the stage in two weeks, my dad is gonna be cheering louder than everyone, my sister will probably make me another gaudy poster, and my mom will embarrass me like always. All of this, and I am grateful. Stitch put it best, “This is my family. I found it, all on my own. It's little, and broken but still good. Yeah, still good.”