Three funerals this past weekend and a Bridal shower. Only made it to one funeral of my beloved cousin Sione Afu Na'a. Couldn't make it to my distant cousin and dearest next-door-neighbor from back home, Lani Tui'one. Two deaths from my never- to- be- forgotten villages of Kahoua and Matangiake. This is where I grew up and this is where joyful and loving childhood memories were imbedded, formed and have impacted my life, making me want to tell stories.
I grew up with Afu and Lani. It pained me that I couldn't make it to Lani's funeral. With everything that was going on, my husband continues to be sick and of course needed my help. That's why I couldn't make it to most of the programs that was going on during the funerals. The third funeral was my husband's cousin Lei's grandfather. And also the wedding shower was for Marcy (his cousin) as she's getting married this coming weekend.
My memories of Afu are never far from my mind. He was always on the lookout for me as we were growing up. Afu was the "bad boy" of my growing up years. The very pain of my existence as he assumed the duty of being my personal body-guard and attacked every boyfriend I had that he didn't agree with, care for or like. Yes, this is the guy that roamed the streets of our villages looking for trouble, asking for trouble and he made his own beer from scratch with his friends.
One evening and a Freshman in high school, my very first official boyfriend (a senior in high school) unexpectedly dropped by my house, drunk. Shocked that he was even in my village (he lives in a distant village but we attended the same high school) and secretly pleased that he dared to visit me, I tried desperately to get rid of him before my parents and my male cousins discover his whereabouts.
Luckily I was able to persuade him to leave but not before my cousin Afu found out. About two or three seconds after my boyfriend disappeared into the night, my parents pulled in to our parking lot and about five of my male cousins storm over, asking for him. Imagine my relief when he was gone. I thank God a hundred times over for helping me avoid an almost fatal situation. Afu was pretty upset that my boyfriend even set foot at my house. He was rambling all these things:
"Where is he, where is he so we can kill him".
"Who is he that he dares come here!"
"Sela, he should be so lucky that I don't find him tonight".
"I'm going to find him and I'm going to beat him to death!"
Terrified, I scrambled into the house and to the farthest part away from my dad. A brief moment after that, the entire village went into pitch darkness as the power went out. That was my saving grace from the good Lord above as I heard my father's voice belting out:
"Sela, you are so lucky we have a power outage. Had I been able to see you, you would have gotten a good whipping tonight." (One of my father's rule for us children was that no dating until after we serve missions) This was one rule I constantly contradicted.
Pheewwww but I was relieved. From then on, I avoided that boy friend like the plague. It was for his own good.
Sweet Lani was a replica of an angel. She was always so quiet and soft spoken. Not one to be rowdy like myself and she was rarely seen at the playground where we'd gather with other children to play. Her older brother, Stanley (Teni) became one of my very best friend in high school as he was my cousin and also dating my best friend, Sela. In later years, Lani inherited some kind of skin cancer. Every now and then I run into her here in Utah, but we also kept constantly in touch through Facebook.
Over the weekend I was reminded of childhood memories that included Afu and Lani. Memories from a different place and a different time, yet, fresh like the morning dew in my heart and my mind. Gone but never to be forgotten. The remnant of their lives trickles on into eternity through my memory. It's a temporary goodbye for now. Until we meet again in the next life.
Mo fononga atu a Afu mo Lani. 'Ofa lahi atu.