The power of gratitude … or, how my brothers-in-law almost ruined my husband

Dan and I recently returned from vacationing in Hawaii with three couples—all members of my deceased husband’s family. Weird, right?

But not really. Because Dan fits in perfectly with the Johnsons. In fact, before we were married, one of the Johnson men said, “You’re our sister so we can’t wait to meet our new brother-in-law!”

But as we settled into island time, one of the brothers-in-law harassed Dan for waking me up gently every morning with a mug of cinnamon tea. This attitude quickly spread to the other male members of the family. “At least you could wait until our wives don’t see you do this,” they complained.

And then came the day when I had to wake myself up and make my own tea. Dan, meanwhile, was sitting in the living room talking with one of the BILs.

Caught in the action—or in this case, the inaction—Dan insisted that because he had placed a tea bag in a mug and filled the tea pot with water, he had sort of made tea for me.

I’m not buying it.

During the ten delightful days on the island—despite this not-so-covert, male campaign—I added to my gratitude journal. Walks along the beach. Snorkeling. Brightly colored fish. Fiery entertainment. Paddling on a choppy bay. Incomparable sunsets. Turtles and dolphins and whales.

We happened upon a couple of dolphins playing with a whale
Snorkeling off Hulopo’e Beach on the island of Lanai
Yellow tang fish
Off Sugar Beach on Maui
Fire dancers at a luau in Ka’anapali
Sunset from our condo

Yes, and even these in-laws. I’m not sure how many in-laws who lost a family member would welcome the new spouse of the not-blood-related widow. I am so grateful.

Brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and cousins-in-law

I’m not sure very many people would want to vacation on a paradise island with their in-laws. Or even their immediate family members. How lucky are Dan and I to be part of this phenomenon?

And I’m not sure how many women who remarry are graced with a man who wakes her up every morning with hot tea. Which reminds me of this thought from one of the books in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series:

She looked at him fondly. That he had been sent to her, when there were so many other, lesser men who might have been sent, was a source of constant gratitude. That we have the people we have in our life, rather than others, is miraculous, she thought. A miraculous gift.

And it was Albert Einstein who said:

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

Dan is a source of constant gratitude in my heart. He is a miraculous gift, as are all the family members involved in this equation: the Lawry’s, Mallory’s, and Johnson-related kin.

Gratitude is a powerful thing.

P.S. Turns out, the damage my brothers-in-law tried to inflict wasn’t permanent. At home, Dan morphed back into the thoughtful man I married.


Road closures ahead


Waiting for my luggage


  1. Melanie

    What a great write up! Loved seeing all of you in action! Was great to see you and meet Dan!!

  2. Debbie Beckmann

    Love your writings and adventures. Life is so precious and we are blessed to have family to enjoy it with.

  3. You are so blessed!!

  4. Allison

    Beautiful story, pictures, and reminder!

  5. Loved that story. You are so blessed. Love to both of you Eileen

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