It's true, and yes to my sisters (Lisha, Vange, Nelley and Moni lol) DISTANCE makes the heart grow fonder.
I anticipated driving home Thursday evening to be with Gramma for one last night, but the freaken kuikui Sao bought ended up melting in my freezer while I was at work, and I didn't want to make the drive from San Diego to Barstow while it wasn't frozen, so I waited. I contemplated even driving home early in the next morning, but I couldn't bare the thought of not being able to sleep with Gramma for one last night, so... I strapped up my laundry and toilries for a long and unwelcomed weekend back home. The clock struck midnight and I was packed and ready to hit the road.
I arrived around 2am, groggy and completely exhausted from work and the drive. I grabbed my heavy laundry hamper from the passenger seat of my car and lugged all 30lbs of it to my front door. As soon as I keyed the door to open, I plopped my hamper on the floor, shut the door, locked it, and headed straight to the bed.
There she was, sleeping, and all I could feel was joy, pain, sorrow and happiness - all in the same breath. It was the most peaceful sight everytime I arrived back home to a bed, half taken by Gramma, becuase she knew I was coming home, and I would always sleep right next to her.
I flicked the lights on quickly and her eyes opened, she smiled. "Auoi, aga fea e sau ai?" I just smiled, and then she smiled back at me. She then motioned me to come over, grabbing a blanket from my side of her bed, trying to lay out it for me to get rest from my long drive. She always thought the drive was much too long, but I always had to assure her that after 5 years, I'm very used to it.
I turned the lights back off and hopped into bed. She made sure her hearing aids were tucked under her pillow. She always did that to make sure she could locate them in the morning to hear. Haha. Thank God for those hearing aids, they worked so much better than the ones she had back in the days... we'd be yelling at Gramma everyday just to communicate with her. I think that's why I'm so loud these days, I never adjusted to normal hearing people. Ha.
As she comfied into her sleeping state, I sat there as she shut her eyes and mumbled a prayer. She always mumbled at night. Sometimes they were prayers, sometimes they were just her thoughts, sometimes she was just talking to herself. I usually just sit there and either laugh at what she's saying in my pillow, or I'll just zone it out to sleep, but not this time. This time was different.
As I laid right next to her, my heart dropped into the depths of my gut, waves of emotion came over me, and sure enough, what used to be a smile turned into a frown of sadness, and tears began gushing out of my eye sockets. There I was... LAYING NEXT TO GRAMMA, IN TEARS. Overcome with so much emotion, I was sobbing so hard the bed kept jerking at my every deep enhale. I tried to calm myself down so as to not wake her from the movement, but I just couldn't help but let out all of my tears that I had been holding in since the Sunday afternoon the family made the decision, that we would stop fighting Gramma against her will, and send her back to Samoa - her wish she had been longing to fulfill far too late within her life. It had been 30 years since Gramma had been in the states when she moved with her children to Hawaii for the better life, and at the end of her days, raising 8 kids, 15 grandkids and a handful of great grandkids, she has finally found herself longing to be in Samoa where her heart is.
My heart aches thinking about how far away she is. It aches more becuase what she means to me, and our history. Gramma raised me from birth while Mom worked full time, and while Dad was out in the field, at war, and stationed at a distant location in the Marines. Gramma took care of us, she fed us, sewed our clothes, fixed our hair, taught us how to speak in Samoan (although that didn't last long). She is literally the best cook I know. No one's - AND I MEAN NO. ONEs. sapasui can compare to hers - and for the record, I haven't tasted sapasui better than the first batch I can remember reating distinctly when I was in 8th grade in Washington. COLD PIE (lol, which is what I grew up calling kopai) isn't the same without Grammas special caramelized sauce. Her upside down pineapple cake is absolutely to die for. No cocoa rice is made with the same amount of love than Gramma's. If her hands were still youthful like her heart was, she'd wipe out every Samoan woman in the sewing business, becuase Gramma had the best taste in style, color and cut for puletasis, mumu'us, i'e faikagas and alohas. She didn't just make what you wanted, she made puletasis that flattered YOU, and better believe she was on point with color contrast and skin tones! That's how I learned all of that. ;) She always made sure I looked neat and had the most unique style - that's how I am everything I am today. She's super goofy too. Youtube made her pretty popular with her BALLIN status of beating me and Jonas at TROUBLE. Dang. She's so random too, at times she'll just do weird things just to make us laugh, like - how is someone that old, still in contact with her funny bone like that? LoL. She's the diva Gramma I mold myself after - just so divalicious!!! LoL! :) Hmm, I wonder where I get it from? jk LMBO. I'm gonna be JUST LIKE HER one day when I'm old and taking care of my kids and grandkids. :)
Gramma's number one question to me "Leata, when are you koing to ket married? Pretty soon I koin' die!". Gee Gramma, way ta put the pressure on me!!! LOL! I swear, it doesn't ever play out for her. To this day, Gramma has never seen any of her grandchildren get married the right way, so because I haven't had a baby and am done with school, she believes that's my next step in life. Oh if I could just have all the money in the world, I'd grant her that wish, but too bad life doesn't work that way. Nor does love, so yeah, haha, NEXXXXXT! LoL. Before she left Friday evening she sat me down while she sat in her chair and she told me she really wishes to see me marry. It touched me the most when she said that she wanted me to get married soon because she wanted to sew for my wedding. I almost cried, that would have been the most awesome thing to have happened. Sadly, Gramma set a very high bar for everything from, fashion to food, to funny and flavor... dang it Gramma, you ruined it for the rest of the world. LoL. Dah well, I'm so thankful. :)
She's a 2nd mother to me, and oddly enough, many times, I can always agree with myself, that she was actually my FIRST mother. She took care of me out of my mother's womb, and I know I grew attached to her since the moment she held me in her arms at birth.
Seeing her go back to Samoa to live, feels like losing a loved one. I won't be able to see her laying on the bed, half empty, waiting for me to hop in, cozy up, stare at her a while, and then fall asleep. She's not here to make me laugh at any of her random words, or outright crazy behavior, because at her age, wow, they just get weirder and weirder! She won't be able to pester me about when I'm going to marry. She's not going to give me the final go on any of my outfits. She's so cute "Oh, niiiiice your dress" lol. I wont be able to see her hobble to the bathroom, or scurry to the ktichen table for her meals. All that is now a fond memory of mine from the very near past.
I've been strong up until my last night sleeping with her. There I cried out so many tears that have been building up, becuase I know that her leaving is what she wants, and so many time, we pain and grieve over things that happen against the way we wish them to. But... she's happy, and how could I ever keep her from being happy?
I don't regret any moment with her, I saw the pain in her teras and her face the day she was leaving. She held us tight, she shed tears as she held her kleenex to her wet eyes. She gave us her blessings to find someone who would treat us well and marry us. She prayed for our lives, she apologized for missing out on anything important from here on out, because she'd be in Samoa, but at the end of the day, we know, all wil be well when she touches down in Samoa. She said her heart is in Samoa, but the sad thing about that, is that she's my heart, and now she's in Samoa too, so I guess my heart is in Samoa.
I love you, diva Gramma. My prayer for my Gramma is that she may live her ending years in happiness, where her heart is, in Samoa. I also pray that my wedding day is one that comes BEFORE the Lord takes her to be with Him. I also pray that she doesn't hesitate to call us and tell us she wants to come back to Cali, because I will fa sho put her ticket on my credit card and fly out here in a jiffy! haha. I pray for her good health and well being while she enjoys herslef the way God meant for her to, and that is, breathing the fresh air she once breathed when she was born, walking the same paths she walked growing up, sitting in the same home she sat in while she was raised, and just living happily ever after.
Lord, watch over my Gramma - she's my heart... not only that, she's my twin soul.
Dessarina Leata Niusulu
LoL. She'd always do this just to make us laugh.
See, what did I tell ya, just goofy and random!
Her teddy bear she named after herself, Pepa. haha.