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  • Iona Stuart

'Ohana Means Family

Most people are acquainted with the phrase, ‘’Ohana means family; family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten’ from the wonderfully heartwarming Disney movie (and subsequent TV series) Lilo and Stitch. Another thing I adore about this is that Lilo can be translated in Hawaiian as ‘lost’ - among other things, such as 'generous one' - which suggests that the title can be read as meaning something lost and stitched back together, an idea that merges beautifully with tragic backstory of how Lilo and her sister Nani lost their parents in a car accident. This interpretation of the name Lilo also works with the name of the soundtrack song by Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu, “He Mele No Lilo” which can be translated as “Lullaby of the Lost.”


I have been thinking about this a lot in the past year of living in a global pandemic, and the amount that has subsequently been lost - a sense of freedom, movement, health, a loss of contact with family and loved ones, and of course the tragic loss of many lives.


In September of 2020, during a time when where I live was not in lockdown, I got a new tattoo. Quite simply, I got the word ‘Ohana tattooed on my left wrist. The reason for this is also quite simple - I missed, and continue to miss, my family. For me, family is everything; the family I have through blood, the family I have acquired through love, the friends that feel like family to me, and the thoughts in my head of the family I want to create in my future.


During these times of being so far away from the ones we love, I feel comforted by the fact that I can just look at my wrist and be reminded of all the wonderful family members I have, no matter how far away they may be, or how long it’s been since I’ve seen or held them. We may be far apart but, in a sense, we will always be together.


Because ‘Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.




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