Sunday, October 04, 2009

Godmother's Eulogy

Editor: Below is the beautiful eulogy given by the Head of State at Godmother's (Anna Tui Annandale's) service Wednesday morning. Note that Tuatagoloa references Godfather.

I was hesitant to talk last night because I was aware of Tui’s discomfort with politics, politicians and status.

My reservation was allayed when Tuatagaloa asked me after the service to say something this morning.

I decided to speak because I felt that his request was also hers.

Nothing becomes Tui more than the manner of her leaving. As Carol said last night, in this tragedy she put the safety of her mother and Joe before her own – a gesture underlining selflessness and humility.

Her family admits that her funeral was carefully planned and today one senses that she’s still very much in command.

She has orchestrated the time and space: the order of the rituals, liturgies and testimonies. The programme was and is: the funeral within twenty four hours of death; a quiet family service at 8pm; a funeral service at Tanumapua at 5.30am; and her burial at Siusega.

All this is metaphor for moving on lest we dwell too long on death and tragedy – a salutary lesson not only for our family but also for a grieving nation.

As the wife of Tuatagaloa, she is entitled to the protocols, rituals and conventions befitting the funeral of the wife of a Falealili grandee.

This includes a funeral service at the official residence of Tuatagaloa in Poutasi. But, in opting for less fanfare, Tui was and is claiming space: space for privacy.

She wanted a funeral where the ambiance would be markedly different in tone and context; she simply wanted to move on with grace. Whereas she became the mainstay of the Poutasi hierarchy, in the end she preferred a quiet and private funeral.

Her outstanding gift to us was the example of how she eased her way with finesse and aplomb through the different corridors of Samoan society. She would reincarnate herself many times, sometimes all in the same day.

One moment she could be entrepreneur, the next a chair of a charitable organization, or Board member of an art or culture group, or a lead person in the village women’s committee, or a delegate to an annual Malua EFKS Fono tele.

All this achieved with quiet wit, thoughtfulness and grace. Through this she brought people from different persuasions and cultures together. This is high achievement.

She saw the Sinalei staff not as workers or employees to be bullied or put down but as human beings that you need to work in partnership with.

She did not pretend to a knowledge or expertise that she did not have. She was quite comfortable in learning from others or from books. She was successful in the village because she had the common touch; she understood people and was humble and modest.

How did she do it? Through an innate sense of humility. Whether she knew it or not, her humility gave her an uncanny insight into what the Bible refers to in Ecclesiastes as the “vanity of vanities”.

Tui was humble yet not meek. She sought and celebrated simplicity which was not simple because of the allusions to metaphor and nuance. She was most accommodating and alluring when she stood firm on what she believed to be principle.

Tui was a deeply spiritual person. For her, God was not distant and formidable; God was always present and an integral part of loving. He was present when she planted flowers, when they sprouted, budded, blossomed, bloomed and withered. He was present in her love of animals, especially in her love for her dogs.

He was truly present for her when the sun rose and set. He was present when she loved Joe, her family, friends and especially the disadvantaged. He was present when she and Joe prayed in the morning and in the evening. Knowing her, she would have prayed for the last time for the safety of Joe, her mother Anna and Tafa, her mother’s nurse. I believe God heard and heeded her prayer.

If I’m struggling to capture the essence of Tui, then I invite you to take a good look at her face, her glow, her gentle smile and her sense of inner peace. That is her legacy.

I loved Tui dearly for a very simple reason: she loved Joe, and because of this love, Joe and her family and all who came in contact with her became better people.


Click here to view and share memories of Godmother Tui.

1 comment:

  1. powerful and moving words... Rest in Peace Godmother