"Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to you, each other, your children, your grand-children and others throughout the generations. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events." --President Spencer W. Kimball

May 21, 2012

G-pa Tevita

Another main reason that Ova and my boys were so excited to go to New Zealand, was to see Grampa Tevita.  He is Ma's brother, and the only fullblood-brother that she has left.  It's just the two of them, out of 10 with 2 other half brothers that are still alive....everyone else has already passed on.  In Ova's preparation to go to New Zealand, Ma and Tea packed a couple coolers full of clothes, food, lotions, and anything from the US that they wouldn't have over there....that they thought he might like.  The whole time while they were packing their things, Ma would share stories and reminss about her brothers.  She was happy and sad at the same time.  She was so happy that Ova would get to go and see her brother, and so happy that her brother would get to meet my boys...espeically my Filimone, because he's named after their dad.  She was sad because she was originally supposed to go too.  At the beginning of the year, things were in process to get her and Tea tickets to be able to go....but with the situation with her legs and the blood clots that continue to form, her doctor advised her against going.  It's just too dangerous to go on a 14 hour flight because the elevation can cause even more blood clots and there was a real possibility that one might move to her heart and we could lose her.  It just wasn't a smart move.  When we finally decided she wasn't going to be able to go, she was so sad.  She cried a lot.  That would've probably been the last time she'd ever be able to see her brother, they're both getting old...she'll be 90 in January and he's 87.  I can't imagine being away from my family for that long.  She hasn't seen Tevita for almost 10 years.

When Ova and the boys got to New Zealand, they went right into the reunion.  The day before the reunion ended, they got a call telling them that G-pa Tevita had a minor stroke and was in the hospital, and that he had a minor surgery after the stroke and wasn't doing too well.  Of course, Ova went straight to the hospital with the boys to see him.  Makai cried right when he walked in the hospital room, Ova said he cried a lot.  When Ova asked him why he was crying so bad, he just said that he looks so much like Ma, and he missed her.  When Mone came into the room, Ova said his name -Filimone- and G-pa Tevita's eyes lit up and he looked around the room.  Ova said it was almost as if he was trying to look for his dad.  His dad passed away along with two of his sisters from typhoid fever when he was only 7 years old....Ma was 9.  Nobody is named after Filimone, his dad.  Just my Filimone.  It was a very special moment when they met...and as they leaned over to kiss him.  Makai stayed right next to his bed the whole time.....even though that was the first time he'd ever met G-pa Tevita in his life.  But then again, that's how my Makai is....if there's one thing I can say to describe him, it would be kind.  He has such a BIG heart and he loves very quickly.  He just sat there right next to him, staring at him and crying because he reminded him of Ma.  Tevita was awake and alert enough to talk with Ova, and he was asking how Ma was doing.  Ova told him she was good, and gave him a little update on her.  They spent a few hours there with him and then they went home.  The next day on Monday, one of Ova's cousins got a text message telling her that G-pa Tevita wasn't going to make it and that Ova needed to get to the hopsital asap.  By the time Ova got to the hospital, he was already slipping away....he wasn't talking and wasn't responding to anyone, he had already slipped into a coma.  Thankfully they were able to call and he was able to talk to Ma before that happened....she was one of the last people that he spoke to, besides his son, before he stopped speaking.  Ova spent most of the day there at the hopsital, then they left....and he passed away at 3am that same night.

Ova called me that night with the sad news.  More than anything I was sad for Ma.  She cried and cried and cried.  Hysterically cried for a long time....several days actually...she would stop crying for a little while and then all the sudden out of nowhere, she's just think of him and start crying again.  It was so sad.  She kept saying over and over how lucky he was to get to go...that he got to leave this Earth, and she didn't understand why she had to stay here.  She's been feeling like that a lot lately, and it's so sad.  Her husband passed away almost 32 years ago, and she really misses him....and she's not as able and active as she used to be, so she's always apologizing for not doing anything.  We wish she wouldn't do that.  She doesn't understand, even with the many times we tell her, how much of a blessing she is to all of us!  After learning of G-pa Tevita's passing, Sau Leka came over and helped her record a video, just sending her love and condolences to Tevita, his wife and their kids.  It was such a sad, touching and heartfelt little video and you could feel her pain and hurt in her words.

We figured that since Ova was already out there, he might as well stay for the funeral.  It was almost like it was meant to be like that because he was their to represent Ma, who raised him.  Since he passed away and the whole family was there for the reunion, they just planned and held the services that same week.  It was a quick and simple funeral, but you could definitely see how much he was loved and respected by how many people came to show their love and support.

Their Tongan funeral services are the same as how we hold them here in the states.  There is a day for just the family, and then the actual day of the funeral with everyone else.  There were also a few things they do differently.  Their caskets there were simple, not fancy like the ones we have here.  It was just a wooden box, in the shape of a dracula coffin, with a little metalic emblem where his name was engraved.  When they closed the casket, they actually had to screw it closed.  And they even dug the hole in the ground just enough to fit the size and shape of the casket.
I love the tapas and ngatus they decorate with.  All over the floors and covering the casket.  I think that part is so beautiful and a great way to show respect and love to the one that has passed on.  This picture below is another cultural tradition I love, that we don't practice here in the states.  Just like in Tonga, in New Zealand they carry the casket way up on their shoulders as a sign of respect....they carried him, following the brass band, all the way to his resting spot.  Such a great way to tribute and show respect and love to G-pa Tevita.

They even played the video of Ma to G-pa Tevita right before closing his casket, and they played it again on the big screen for everyone to see.  Ova said there wasn't a dry eye in the whole place. 
So, what was only supposed to be a week vacation, ended up being two weeks long.  But I was glad that Ova and my boys were able to be there for G-pa Tevita's funeral.

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