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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sharing family's stories increased appreciation of the fullness of life

By Michael C. DeMattos

My daughter's soccer season started inauspiciously with two straight losses and a tie in her third game. The team then rattled off five wins in a row and seemed poised to run the table. All they needed were two wins in the final two games of the season, a feat easier said than done. As it turned out they lost those final two games and were particularly outclassed in the last game by a team from Lā'ie.

That Lā'ie team was beautiful to watch. Their ball-handling skills were impeccable. They passed and received well, communicated clearly, and backed everything up with nuclear kicks that seemed to find the net as often as I find the dinner table. They scored four goals in the first quarter and followed that up with two more later in the game all while setting nothing short of a steel trap around their own goal. More impressive than their skills, though, was the class with which they carried themselves.

They played tough, but clean. After the game they thanked the referees, their opponents, their opponents, parents and of course their own parents. They were so gracious in victory they made it easy on our girls to be gracious in defeat. I have never witnessed so many smiles on both sides of such a lopsided game.

I am not big on clich s, but I try to teach my daughter to win and lose with class: to do the right thing. Sometimes though, the win is so delicious or the loss so painful that you forget about the other team and how they may be feeling. You forget that there is more to the story than just you.

Still, on days like Saturday, when you believe that everything hangs in the balance, that without that final win your season will be a total loss, you may be granted something much better than a check in the victory column. You may be lucky enough to learn that wins and losses need not define you and if they do, the loss may be more important than the win.

Our girls got a lesson in class. They didn't need it, but they got it anyway. That's how sport at its best is supposed to work. I suppose that's how life is supposed to work too, though it sure doesn't seem that way, not if you read the papers and watch the news.

For the last eight years, I have written this column and shared my family's triumphs and tragedies. It was my attempt to put family front and center from the back pages of the Honolulu Advertiser. Many readers, most of whom I have never met, have told me that they feel like part of the family. My own family and friends insist that in a world drifting apart, my column is a way to stay in touch. I would never tell anyone what type of experience they should have, but both responses surprise me and neither was intended.

My hope when starting on this journey years ago was that through my sharing, I might inspire others to do the same. I believed then as I do today, that the fullness of life is appreciated only when shared with loved ones. It is our stories that connect us. If this is true and I am right, then I have a big family. Indeed. I have a wife, daughter, father, brothers and sisters and a myriad of others that I am wont to claim as my own, including some girls from Lā'ie who may never recognize me on the street, but have become part of the story nonetheless. I suppose this was never my story to begin with: It was ours.

Thanks for letting me tell it.