Linda and I just returned from a trip to Texas and Louisiana. We were hosting a group of folks from Hawai‘i. If I didn’t know what ‘ohana meant before, I do now. Howard and I were the only men in the group. We had a good time. Not as much fun as the ladies had, still, we had a good time. Marilyn was along with her aunt Grace. This gets me to where I’m going when I talk about ‘ohana. Both of them were very quiet, but they joined in all the activities that our group enjoyed. In fact, Grace was somewhat of a ninja. You would look around wondering where Grace was and then—Bang! She’s right in front of you.

Another fellow traveler was Dorathea, who is a polio survivor. She used a cane to get around and sometimes needed a wheelchair when we had to cover a considerable distance. But she was a champ. One day in New Orleans, we had to walk a few blocks to get to our bus. It was pouring down rain and the sidewalks were slippery. I grabbed her left hand, she gripped the cane with her right and we made it to the bus. She thanked me over and over again, but I thought, This is who we are. This is what we do.

Some day, there will be someone who will do the same thing for me. How do I know? I know because seniors all along the way have taught me the same thing — you get back what you give.

What I remember most about our trip, how-ever, was the laughter. It came from all corners of the bus.

At one point during our trip, coming from a tour of the Riverwalk in San Antonio, we were waiting for an elevator. Linda kept pushing a button and nothing happened. No elevator, no nothing. Finally, Howard leaned over her shoulder and said, “Linda, you’re pushing the lock button. The ‘up’ button is just above it.” The ladies laughed and Linda said, “Sorry, another blonde moment.”

In New Orleans, our friend, Sam, who used to live in Hawai‘i, invited our entire group to his apartment in the French Quarter. He fixed up some gumbo and when I told him it was the best gumbo ever, he said, “I know it is.” We wouldn’t have had that opportunity — or any of that trip’s moments — if it weren’t for ‘ohana.

I’m grateful for my new friends, part of my ‘ohana now. Be sure to take care of yours.

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