I’m sorry I’ve been off the radar for the last 2 weeks.
On Thursday 27 September 2018 my last surviving grandparent – my Mum’s mother passed away peacefully in Tonga aged 87.
We celebrated her life with a Melbourne family vigil at my parents house on Sunday 30 September 2018.
Grandma Taina was the matriarch of our large Family, loved our local Catholic School, was loved by her village of Ma’ufanga and leaves behind many relatives with broken hearts.
4 days later on Monday 1 October 2018 my husband Leki also lost his last surviving grandparent – his Mum’s mother! She too was aged 87 and passed away peacefully with family around her in Melbourne.
Unbelievably we had both Grandma’s pass away within days of each other.
I would like to share my thoughts as this is still very fresh for me as I’ve just returned from Tonga and saying goodbye to my Grandma Taina.
I left for Tonga with my sisters, Mum and my Aunty on Tuesday morning (2 October) only 6 hours after hearing of Leki’s Grandma ‘Iunisi passing on.
I travelled to Tonga with our 9 month old son Kyneton and Leki stayed in Melbourne with our 3yo Emelina.
When we arrived to our village in Tonga with the Bosco Hall decorated with Grandma Taina’s pictures, mats and cultural items I felt so overwhelmed with grief and sadness.
The rush of getting to Tonga and trying to manage my son distracted me from what was actually happening… until I walked into the hall.
Mum was crying beyond control, the community were singing hymns, prayers were offered, relatives were inconsolable and I was heart broken.
Into the next few days from Wednesday to Friday there were a lot of formal events and gatherings at the family home and in the Bosco Hall which was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone.
There were more arrivals from overseas over these couple of days which set off another round of crying, consoling and comforting each other in our grief!
By Friday Grandma Taina was being prepared for her final journey to rest with my Grandfather ‘Amato who passed away 14 years ago.
There was a long march from the house to the local Catholic Cathedral led by the ‘Api Fo’ou school band and after her final prayer and blessings from the Priest.
Grandma Taina was then carried by her grandsons to her final resting place.
While I was overseas in Tonga, Leki’s family was preparing for the funeral and burial of Grandma ‘Iunisi.
Her final viewing was on Thursday 4 October and Leki’s family organised a closed family affair.
Grandma ‘Iunisi wanted to rest with her husband and Leki’s family honoured her final wish.
After her viewing in Melbourne she was transported to Adelaide to rest with Grandpa Sione Na’a after he passed away 21 years ago.
Here is a tribute made by Leki’s brother for their Grandma – ‘Iunisi Fiefia.
Although this is a tough time for our families we are encouraged by the fact that they lived long and full lives.
They were able to see their children grow, have grandchildren and spend time with great-grandchildren which is such a great blessing!
Sending you all our love.
Rest in Love – Grandma Taina and Grandma ‘Iunisi.
We will miss you terribly and you’ll forever be in our hearts!
Belinda, Leki, Emelina and Kyneton xo
Here is the footage of my Grandma Taina’s funeral: