Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Common Courtesy

Does it matter what color of skin we have when it comes to Common Courtesy?  Is it innate or learned? 

I was raised in a culture that not only teaches Common Courtesy but people who culturally live it from day to day.  Most of these common courtesy are COMMON and universal:

Always say "please and thank you and excuse me".
Respect your elders.  People who are older then you.
Listen when someone else talks.
Honor your parents and don't back talk to them.
Share Share Share

One of these and perhaps the most common, is SHARING.  Particularly of food because we really didn't have much of anything else:

Because we lived in a tiny tinnie island and everyone knows one another, it's very rude for one, if they have a plate of food, not to offer someone else (if anyone is around) a share of it.  Even if what you have is a small portion, it's common courtesy to at least ask: 

"Would like a piece of bread?"
"Hey, would you like to have some of this?"
"Come and eat with us."

In Tonga, if one visits any house and they are having a meal, you are always invited in to join them.  Even if what they have is only enough for them.  Even if they really don't want you to... but they will always offer!  It's the polite thing to do. 

My sister-in-law has a house guest  that lives there for free, gets free transportation and is welcome to their food at any time.  She had asked them to take her in for about 2 weeks, during that time, she'll have enough money to get a car and go back to her apartment.  Right now, she works at the same place where my sister-in-law's daughter works, so they carpool.  This is the reason why she moved in the first place.  It's going on three months now.

Well, yesterday, we picked her up from work.  Sister-in-law needed potatoes from the store so the house guest was asked to go and buy the bag of potato.  When she came in, she had bought a plate of food and not once did she even have the decency to ask, "Hey, I just bought a plate of food, do you guys want some?"  Not that we were hungry.  But seriously, not one word!  I came to find out later, my sister-in-law says, she does this all the time.  Buys her own food, eats by herself and not utter a word to offer at least, if any one else wanted some.

How do you live for free in someone else's house, use their car for transportation, eat their food whenever you want to and forget to be courteous when it comes to your own food.  I don't get it.   Label your name on your own stuff yet your living for free in someone else's house!  How does one become clueless when it comes to that?  WOW...

One thing for sure, I know my children will never ever be this clueless because in our family and our home, you share everything! 

Monday, June 18, 2012


I don't consider wishing on a shooting star, superstitious.  It's just a wish upon a star.  That's all.  I did that all the time as a child and still continue to do so as an adult.  Whether my wish came true or not, I believed it would and I do it all the time whenever I gaze upon a shooting start.  It's a habit.

One night I was driving with my sister-in-law Sarah, and a "not-so-black" cat crossed the road.  To my surprise, she immediately pulled over to the side of the road.
I asked, "Why did you pull over?"
She answered, "Oh, I just want to wait it out a minute or two because that cat crossed the road".
I pointed out, "But the cat is not even black Sarah."
To which she replied, "I know, I just want to make certain no ill happenstance will occur if we keep on driving."  I just couldn't help but burst out laughing at this.

To Sarah, even though the requirement for this superstition that a cat has to be black to bring the bad omen to one, it didn't matter.  It can be a yellow, white and gray cat and she'd still pull over just to make sure nothing happens. 

An incident took place at my mother's funeral.  My stomach turns when I think about it but it took place nonetheless.  I entered my brother's house and saw my sister in deep conversation with a few older ladies.  Took my seat and what I heard blew me away.   My sister looked at me and informed me quietly:  "We have to go back to the Mortuary and take off mom's zipper from her dress and all the hairpins on her hair".  

Mind you, we spend sometimes at the funeral home fixing my mom's hair so she can look beautiful for her viewing.  I had to use hairpins to roll her little curly buns up on top of her head and put on her beautiful temple white dress.  She was ready to go!

It was a blow that had me reeling in anger first.  What the Bloody Hell!!!!   My mother will be rolling and screeching in her grave if we go back and rip that zipper off her dress and also took the hairpins out of her already beautiful hair!  (Of coure she's not in her grave yet but she's in her casket!  She'll roll and screech in there!)

I couldn't believe that these people are still clinging to superstitions that age back well over hundreds of thousands of years ago!   Are they kidding me?  Are you serious?  I looked at my sister in rage and couldn't believe she was even considering doing this.  It was too late, she looked like she had already made up her mind.  Then one of the ladies spoke to me.  This is Moala, Sarah's mom.

"Sela, please, you have to go and do this.  If you don't, there will be a bad omen that will befall your family.  It has happened before.  People had to go and dig out the grave to remove any kind of metal from the corpse to set things right.  You don't want to mess with this." She was almost practically pounding on her chest.  

I was speechless.  What do I have to say to that?  Never mind that this is the 21st century and we no longer believe in those tales.  Never mind that in this age and dispensation we have been enlightened by the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ and the devil be damned.  The lady believes we'll be cursed!  My sisters-in-law believes it and I was the only one hesitant to do it. 

Then she went on, "You have to go immediately and do this.  I don't want anything to happen to my grandchildren.  Promise me you'll do this!" 

Well if she puts it that way, what choice do I have.  I don't want my nieces and nephews to get sick and all fingers will be pointing at me, accusing me that it was my fault because I failed to go and cut the damn zipper from my mom's dress and remove every hairpin out of her hair.  In my mind I couldn't imagine going back to the Mortuary, cutting the zipper off and messing up my mom's hair.

Sadly, I had no other choice but to agree to it.  I'm such a pushover like that.  But ended up refusing to go and do it myself.  I told my sister, "You go and cut out mom's zipper and take the hairpins out.  I'm not going."  So, my sister and cousin Toli did the job.  Took a scissors, thread and a needle.  I called while they were doing it and she said that everything went easy and well.  Mom's hair remained the same even with the hairpins out. 

God forbid that they forget one hairpin in her casket.  I had to make sure, so I asked my sister, "Did you make sure you collected every one of those damn hairpins?"  
"Yes, I did.  I got all of it!"  

There are so many people who still clings to old omens and superstitions.  I hear all of it when I was growing up in Tonga:

Don't whistle at night, you're inviting the demons
Don't sweep your floor at night, it's not good.  Same reason as above
Don't open your umbrella inside the house, you'll go bald
Don't sleep with your head towards the door, you'll be welcoming the devil inside your home
If you dream of a wedding, there'll be a funeral in the family
If you dream of a funeral, it's vice-versa.
If you can't stop your eyelids from blinking, there'll be a funeral.
If a picture frame falls and crack, it's bad omen.  Funeral again.  

What happened to my mom, is the first I've ever heard of such superstition.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

She's gone

For quite sometimes I've often wondered what it would feel like to loose my own mother.  I've seen people wept tears of sadness and grief on Mother's Day every year and I was always forever grateful I still had mine alive.  On Monday, June 4th 2012, I eventually lost my beloved angel mother 'Ana Patiola Fekitoa Tuita. 

She's finally gone.  A victim of breast cancer and a stroke.  I watched her until she drew her last breath and I will never ever forget that.   It was suffocating.  At the end of it all, it was a relief to see her go.  Free at last, free at last, from the bondage of sickness and diseases that both crippled and paralyzed her. 

The past few years have been rough and trying for her.  Her faith and love for her husband and children sustained her.  She endured all her trials with amazing grace and class.  My mother never once complained of pain or any discomfort up to the end.   I don't know how she had the strength to withstand all she went through without a flinch of pain or complain.  Surely this makes her an extraordinary and an exceptional human being. 

There were many times which she did cry.  Not from pain whatsoever, but from her pining and longing for her home and her children in Tonga.   From wanting to see her children here more often.  Moreover, from watching my father struggle to balance his own sickness and taking care of her.  Because my father was consistent in making sure that she's comfortable every second of the day.

I miss my mother.   Her physical presence so to speak.  However, to me, she's that star that continuously  twinkles in the night.  Still shining on us all.  That faint breeze that whirls swiftly by.  Her body may have been laid to rest.  Buried six feet under the ground, yet she still lives on in our hearts and our minds.   Her spirit lives on through us and through her grandchildren. 

I feel her everywhere I go.  I feel closer to her now then ever before.  All I have to do is say the word, "Mommy" and I'm reassured. She didn't leave us comfortless.  Unseen miracles happened through out the week of her funeral,  as we prepared programs and food for her services.  She had her hands in everything we wanted to do.  Everything fell through wonderfully. 

Until we meet again with our beloved mother, there is a great legacy she has left behind for all her posterity.  It's a legacy of faith, love, knowledge and music.   As children, it is out duty to carry on those legacies and never forget her and what she stands for. 

I love, love you mom.  I miss your lovely face and your gentle soul.  Your hands that toil to provide for us all.  The way you lift your brows to answer a question.  The way you smile through it all.  May God keep us all in His care until we meet again soon.