Monday, March 5, 2012

A Mother's Love.....

Funeral Feb 25, 2012
In 1996 I was in my third year at Utah State University. I have no idea what I was studying. Neither did I have any idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Because of that I don't call it a junior year. It took meunix years to graduate so I call it the beginning of my sophomore year. The only thing I did know at the time was that I was a part of the Polynesian Student Union. PSU, as we called it, gave me a chance to serve. Perhaps it is no coincidence that it was through service that I met one of the most unselfish women I have ever met,Tuali'i.

L to R top row Tua, Anne Keiaho, Tonga, Sau
L to R Lisiate Keiaho, Kamilia (Sau's daughter) me
after performing for an old folks home in Brigham City
Back then, she was married to a man by the name of John Halloran. She worked at a dental office as a dental assistant, while her husband worked as an engineer. They lived in the most affluent neighborhood in the small city of Logan. Although they were very well-off, all were treated like a brother or sister to her. Tua, short for Tuali'i, had this enormous heart that allowed everyone in as a great big family. In fact, I had slept in their guest room many times and for some reason I don't doubt that many whom she called 'bro' or 'sis' have also recieved of her hospitality.

I have this uncanny ability to play practical jokes, tease, say the rudest and most sarcastic things to the point that people get offended or in the least get angry at me. Tua would just laugh and smile and say, "Shut up Sam!" I can only remember one time that she yanked my ear a little bit. Because she didn't ever do that it was way more effective than when others did it.

L to R top row Tua, Anne, Sau
bot row Samoana and Lisiate
at Sau's baby blessing of Mosiah
In 1997, somehow, the Polynesian Student Union and community in Logan saw fit to elect me as president of the PSU. I knew it was an undaunting task but I also knew that my two friends, Sau and Tua, who call me little brother, had my back 100 % and with their help I would not fail. Now they weren't the only ones. There were the Keiaho's, the Pauni's, Walter Mila, the Ka'ilis, Mele Lauti, Wayne Ngaluafe etc.

Somewhere during that school year, the Keiaho family joined in our little group and formed what I call the Logan family. The Keiaho's had two of their five kids super involved and the very youngest was super excited to join in when he got old enough. I still consider Sau, Tua and the Keiaho's family to this day.

L to R forgot her name Sau, Tua, Anne
performing at my family reunion
The club, with the most rookie of rookies as their leader, somehow managed to put on the clubs main event, a luau, by the skin of my teeth. At the same time Sau, Tua, the Keiaho family and I created a bond that was inseparable. Whenever one of these brothers or sisters in this bond needed help we were all there for them. They have come and danced for my family reunion, my sisters wedding, old folks homes, a troubled teens school, etc. With Tua being so well-off, she needed us least and in turn gave the most.

At the end of that school year, in 1998, I decided I wanted to serve a mission for my church. Tuali'i, who at the time was a member of a different church, supported my decision full-heartedly. I remember her giving me a check that amounted to more then everyone of my family members had given me. She was at the farewell and the gate for the airplane as I began my journey out of the country.

Sau, baby Mosiah, Anne and Tua having a sleep over at my
house with irons out to flatten hair
Of my Logan family, the one I recieved a letter from the most was Tua. In fact when I needed something from the states, I wrote to either my mom or Tua. One time the missionaries decided to put on a luau for a missionary activity. I was going to teach my fellow missionaries some dances and show a movie of other dances. It would necessitate a cd and a VHS cassette. I wrote to Tua. Not only did she send me all of the above but she went beyond and sent me an Aloha shirt.

My sister Selesitila and Tua at my little
sister's wedding
I returned from Brazil and she and Sau were there at the airport. Tua and Sau were always trying to hook me up with a girl. The first thing Tua did was have a party with some of the new PSU members, all with the aim of introducing me to a girl. I remember distinctly that there was food and drinks and even boos for those that drank alcohol. She was the greatest of hosts because she always thought of what the others wanted.

Her marriage to John ended and she moved away to Salt Lake City. In a couple of years she married Papu Enosa. She had a kid named Katelin Eventually she was baptized in the same denomination as I. I wasn't present for any of those events, which I regret.

I would see her occasionally at flag days, a celebration of the Samoan culture. We would chat for a bit and then be on our merry ways. The last time I saw her before seeing her in her deathbed was in the summer of 2011. She was taking care of her primary duties. We talked briefly, then she returned to her duties serving in the primary.

Later on I found out she was fighting cancer. Just like her to not even mention that she was fighting cancer. She was too unselfish to burden anyone with that knowledge. Tua would rather carry her burdens in addition to any other burdens her friends had. Rumor was that every night she was sick to the point of throwing up.

"Call ASAP", was the text message I recieved from Sau, on February 11, 2012. She broke some bad news to me, telling me that Tua was sent home from the hospital and that she was on her deathbed. We planned to visit her the next day.

It's a very humbling experience to visit someone who is going to die. What do you say? What do you bring? I wondered if she would even recognize me. Sau had told me she couldn't talk. When we went she talked to Sau a lot.

She looked at me, her eyes lit up. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Samoana!" We embraced. I asked her about the dumbest question you can ask, "How are you doing?" Obviously, she was not doing well. She gave me a long frown.

My guess was the long frown was her version of crying. At her funeral we had found out that due to dehydration the Doctor had said she wouldn't be able to cry. She, however, did later on cry one more last tear.

We found out she had allowed her significant other to go to the rugby sevens tournament. To me it showed that even on her deathbed she thought of others before herself. But it also made me mad and sad, as we left, to know this.

I visited again with some of the Keiaho family, my mother and my sister. To know that my sister and mom visited showed me how much she had done for my family. My sister is a homebody and my mom is pretty much homebound because she has dialysis three times a week. We all began breaking out with our fondest memories of Tua. I asked Tua if there was anything she needed me to do before she passes away. She kept saying no as if she had forgiven everyone on this earth.

The Divine Heritage Choir came to sing to her on Thursday. I regretfully wasn't able to go but had planned to go again on Sunday. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get to see her as she passed Sunday morning.

The funeral came the following Saturday. I attended with hundreds of other people. The gym was packed with people who's lives had been touched by the warmth of her love. There were touching testimonies of her love and selflessness.

One of her close friends shared, to me, the most touching testimony of all. She told of Tua's last moments on earth. Early in the morning, Tua started breathing fast. Her friend said she could tell that Tua wouldn't make it much longer so she grabbed Katelin, Tua's daughter, and brought her in front of her mom to see her last breaths on Earth. She said Tua's breaths slowed down to a very slow pace. Tua looked over at her daughter and with her last breath a tear came out of her eye.

Something tells me she had been saving that tear for her daughter. Although the Doctor, a learned man, and his years of schooling would say, "She will not be able to cry," the Doctor couldn't account for a mothers love for her child. Tua, a person who was selfless and always serving, ultimately spent her last breath serving.

I can't help to notice the similarity between Tua and my mother. My mother goes to dialysis three days a week. She has outlasted everyone of her colleagues at dialysis as they quit and pass on or just pass away in the chair. Dialysis is a grueling process that involves needles and bruises, the feeling of being light headed, sore bones, and throwing up. I feel like what drives her is her love and selflessness for her children.

Hopefully one day I can be found with that same love because I know it will be good with me in the next life to posess it. Moroni 7:47 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

7 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute, Samoana! Thanks for sharing that as I didn't meet her.

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  2. Love you Tua! Beautifully written Sam!

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  3. Would mean the world to us if you had a contact number for our cousin Katelin whom we lost contact since the death of Tua's Mother, my grandmother. We've been trying to look for her for years.

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    1. Hello from the United States. I am working on trying to get you some contact info. Tuas ez-husband makes it hard but I will continue trying. Katelin is a beautiful girl. She looks like her mother

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  4. Hope you have my email address now that I've replied. You don't know how much it means to us that you've made contact

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