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My Grandchildren’s Fahu

I am a very fortunate mother. I say that because I have been blessed with a very loving and caring daughter. Many people want a son as their first child, but I believe it is better to have a daughter first. This is a tribute to all loving and caring daughters everywhere, but especially to my own. She was raised in the South Pacific Island of Tonga and is the eldest of four children.

My daughter was born after a very long hard labor, but when I first saw her cute little face, all of the pain and misery left. She actually was a honeymoon baby, born nine months and two days after we were married.

Over the years, we have become best of friends, and at times I feel that she is more of a mother than I am. I had a very troubled childhood and tumultuous teenage years. Perhaps my daughter learned from my mistakes, but she has never been any trouble and has always been there to lift me up.

I am eternally grateful that the Lord saw fit to bless me with such a beautiful and thoughtful daughter. I see the trouble other daughters cause in their family, including myself, and know the Lord was watching out for me when he sent this special spirit to our family.

The saddest day I remember is when my daughter left me to go to university. It took me a long time to get over and her absence was literally painful. But, I knew she had to find her own path and future. Her caring nature carried over into a career. She chose to be a nurse, and I have heard from several of her patients who remark about her loving character. Now she is a Nurse Practitioner and she is a doctor to many, including me.

My daughter and her husband have been blessed with their own beautiful daughter, who is also a sweet and devoted child that bring all of us many smiles and so much joy.

Daughter, I love you so much, more than I ever thought I could love another human being. I am so happy to call you my daughter and hopeful for the mother that I am becoming through you and with you. Thank you for helping me in times of need. I can never repay you for all that you have done for me.

For always and forever, you are the biggest part of my heart.

My daughter’s new daughter
How precious and sweet
Beautifully perfect
From her head to her feet

Ten tiny fingers
And ten tiny toes
All dressed up in lace
With a cute button nose

I look at her face
And I see her bright smile
I have to admit
Takes me back quite awhile

I remember the day
Brought my own daughter home
More precious than anything
I’d ever known

Our daughters are the most precious of our treasures, the dearest possessions of our homes and the objects of our most watchful love.
~ Margaret E. Sangster

A daughter is beauty at its finest.
Heart of an angel, soul so pure, and sweet.
Daughters are one of God’s most precious gifts that he has bestowed upon the world.
Angels in Heaven do not compare to thine beauty, and grace my ever so beautiful, and lovely daughter.


Seeing you at birth brought more joy to me
than all the money in the world could ever do.
You are morning, bright, and shining,
you are noon, you reside at the highest point in my heart,
you are the dew kissed night.
You are my daughter, heart, and soul.
~anonlymous

Art by Ruth Kongaika

So, you may wonder why I entitled this post as “My Grandchildren’s Fahu”. In the Kingdom of Tonga, the eldest sister in a family is revered and given many responsibilities as well as many rewards. https://www.mercyworld.org/_uploads/_ckpg/files/mirc/brief/SenolitaVakata.pdf
This document explains so much about the culture of the Fahu.

Liana has already taken upon herself the “burden” of being our family doctor. Whenever we are sick, she is right there to make sure we get the best care. She will stay up all night with us until she is sure we will be alright. If she really wanted to, she could ask any of her brothers for one of their children (although I’m pretty sure she won’t). She also asks them to take responsibilities by preparing food or giving money for a family member and they oblige willingly. I’m so glad that my sons respect their sister and help her when they can. Although we don’t live in Tonga any more, Liana is a very good example of service to the whole family.

My grandchildren’s fahu,
Liana Olivia Kinikini



Beauty, Cultures, Finance, food, Grandchildren, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Tweens, Teens, and Onward!

I am at that stage where my grandkids are between the ages of 10-21. I miss them as babies terribly. They were much cuter then! I miss their wanting to play with me and even playing with my toys. Now the only toys I have are the ones I use while tutoring English in China. Oh, well!

Most of our grandchildren have made it through the awkward years while some of them are still awkward! Many of them wore or wear glasses, have worn or wear braces, and some have transitioned from squeaky little voices to deep bass tones. It has all been very slow but steady. Adolescence! Some have had acne, others somehow missed that. Of our children, half had it and the other half didn’t. Accutane helped when we needed it, albeit my pimple-popping self got in the way a bit.

I’m kind of sad that this summer went by so fast! I was able to spend some time with each of the grandchildren, except for one who is trying to graduate from college soon. We had get togethers and some even slept over. The house nearly burned down, but all in all, I feel a bit closer to each of them because of our recent family reunion.

Now that the children are back in school, I find myself missing them more and have taken up a few more hobbies to keep me busy. Even Grandpa is busy driving cars for Budget. He also serves in the temple two days a week and also gives Patriarchal blessings in our stake. I am left to ponder more, study the scriptures, write, paint, make jewelry, sell my used clothes on Poshmark, teach English, and pray. Life is good!

We were blessed with goodly children (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around)? The Lord knew I would need a daughter first who would be my best friend and greatest support. She has so much patience and charity for everyone. Each one of my children have been a great blessing to our family. I could not asked for more!

So, how can I help these grandchildren of ours through the trying “awkward years”?

I have come up with a few ideas and will share them here:

  1. Listen to them and validate that their feelings are real. I remember when I was a teen, no one seemed to validate my feelings. My grandparents seemed too “old” to talk to about those things. My parents were too busy and my brother seemed to be the perfect son, achieving high grades, not interested in sports or girls (what?) Then there was me – not academically innate, very clumsy, preferred boys to girls, and emotional. I hope my experiences can help me be more in tune with my grandchildren if and when they are willing to share their thoughts and feelings with me.
  2. Respect! I think it is important to show respect to the grandchildren. I am so happy that my grandchildren are immovable in their faith and commitment to live the Gospel. They have self confidence and are not afraid to put themselves “out there”! I admire how they love others and how they obey their parents. They dress modestly and try to take care of their own responsibilities.
  3. I am aware that our brains do not fully function until we are 25 years old. Any irrational choices we make before could really be excused, but I know these grandchildren are way ahead of where I was at their age! Give them a break! Don’t put them down! Growing up is not easy for anyone that I am aware of. When we understand that, we will give these children space to make mistakes of their own so they can learn from them.
  4. It is not good to compare grandchildren – that happened to me and it was not advantageous in the long scheme of things. I appreciate each grandchild for their uniqueness in abilities and characteristics.
  5. One of my greatest joys each week is attending sacrament meeting with one of my granddaughters. She leads the congregation in hymn and does such a wonderful job. She is cheerful and comes early to make sure everything is set up. Then she comes and sits by me. She is such a great example to me. I know some of my ideas are foreign to her, but she has patience with me. I try to be a good example for her also.
  6. When I was young, I didn’t get the opportunity to share experiences, feelings, and actually just talk to my grandparents. When three of my grandchildren came back from the South Pacific after spending two weeks with their grandpa, they asked questions like, “Why does everyone love grandpa and want to help him when he goes back to his homeland?” I think it was a great experience for them to see that he is not just an old grumpy guy but is well respected in his own society!
  7. One thing I have learned is to watch my words. I know when the grandchildren are around they are listening to everything that comes out of my mouth. I should not gossip, not talk bad about my husband or leaders, never swear, and be as positive as I can (not an easy task). Words said in anger are hard to forget!
  8. Our grandchildren come in varying sizes and shapes. I love each one just the way they are and should never put them down because of the way they look. It is difficult with so much available to eat all the time and I know when they get interested in finding a mate they will take good care of themselves. Body image is a sensitive subject to all of us.
  9. I have enjoyed getting to know more about my grandchildren’s friends. Their friends are very influential and I am always happy to meet them. It is good to know why they like them and what good characteristics they possess.
  10. One thing I have learned recently is that my grandchildren do not want me to know everything about them. They need their privacy and time away from Grandma. Above all is to enjoy whatever time we have together. Make it a happy, beneficial time. Last Christmas I did something totally different than any time before. I am a thrifter and all of my grandchildren know I pick up things that I think they might like during the year. Then during Christmas, I laid them all out and let them choose what they wanted – two gifts. That way I don’t buy something for them they will never use and everyone is happy. I asked one grandchild how they liked it and they told me it was great, so I may have to do it again. Christmas gifting is one of my most difficult challenges.

Sorry to have rambled on and on…feel free to add your ideas on how to interact with grandchildren or what has worked for you. I’m sure there are many more.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Finance, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Naming Grandparents!

Some new grandparents want to be called by their real names. My grandchildren call me Grandma Ruth which I find quite endearing, and I especially like the Grandma part.

I did think about it for a while before I officially became the third generation. I even called myself Granny, trying to get used to the term. Now that I have twelve dear ones, I do not mind whatever they call me as long as they are respectful!

I got a chuckle from one cute little grandson who used to call me “Grandpa Ruth” as he had a hard time saying Grandma.

Grandma Ruth (I’m her namesake!)

When I think of my own grandparents, I remember my mother’s mother (Grandma Ruth – after whom I am named) always having her hands busy with knitting. She made hundreds of beautifully knit blankets, sweaters, booties, bonnets and so many more. When she was not knitting, she was cooking, sewing or cleaning. She made the most delicious potato rolls, and although they never had much, she would stop whatever she was doing to feed you.

Grandma Gladys

My father’s mother (Grandma Gladys) baked yummy breads, preserved jams and jellies, and could cook up the most delicious mutton (they raised sheep). She had chickens, and would let me go out to the coop to get the newly laid eggs. She let me enjoy myself in her pea patch and the rest of her wonderful garden. Grandma Anderson spent much of her time tatting doilies (almost a lost art).

Tatting shuttle

Both of my grandmothers spent hours and hours sitting on their tush creating beautiful masterpieces with their hands. No gym, aerobics, just their hard labor cleaning and gardening. They both lived to be in their nineties! Lucky if I should live that long.

Although these are not the typical middle~aged people nowadays, I think the feelings between grandparents and grandchildren are pretty similar.

Could it be that we are more concerned with the way we look, and are hopeful that we look more like their mother than their grandmother? Are we fooling ourselves? As for myself, I sometimes look in the mirror and see my mother looking back!

In the United States and Canada, Grandma and Grandpa are more common. whereas in Britain, New England, Ireland and Australia they use Nan, Nana, Nanna, Ninny or Nanny. I’ve also heard of Tutu, Mamaw, Grammy, Lala, Ma or Mum. Grandfathers are also called Grampy, Granddaddy, Grandpappy, Gigi , Pop, Papa, Oggy, and many more.

Of course, each language has their own names for grandparents. In Hawaii, where I live, the grandfather is either Tutu kane or Kupuna Kane, and grandmother is Tutu wahine or Kupuna wahine. My grandchildren call their Filipino grandma Tutu and grandpa is Papa.

Often the first name that the baby calls their grandparents, while learning to speak, ends up being what they are known as from then on. The first grandchild usually is the one who sets the trend for the rest of the grandchildren.

Some really cute names for grandparents are Poppers, Poppie, Pepop, Pops, Popsie, Sasa, Sugar, Sweetie or Sweetums, and Grandpie.

Of course, when the children get older and want to introduce their grandparents to their friends, they usually fall back to the usual names of Grandma and Grandpa . So, these nicknames that are adopted are special terms of endearment. A special name between the children and their very own special grandparents. More often step grandparents are called by their first names, unless they have grown up with the children close by.

It is not uncommon to have four generations still alive in a family, and in some families five generations are not unusual either, depending mostly on how young the parents are when they have children. Six is a rare thing, but not impossible.

I don’t believe you have to be old and creaky to be called Grandpa or Grandma. I just feel lucky to still be alive and have the blessing to get to know and watch my grandchildren as they grow. I enjoy watching how my own grandchildren handle difficult situations as they become preteens, teens, and older. God bless them, please!

I love being just Grandma.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Parenting, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

The Other Side of Heaven 2

The Other Side of Heaven 2 Main actor Christopher Gorman

We went to see the movie, “The Other Side of Heaven 2”, and I thought it would be good to share my impressions with you.

We were fortunate to be with a group that previewed the movie before it was shown to the general public. The theater was filled with relatives of one of the main characters in the movie, Tonga Toutai Paletu’a. The story was about his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his relationship with his family prior to that decision and after.

Elder John H. Groberg was depicted in the movie as the LDS Mission President at the time who had served his first mission in Tonga. My husband happened to be one of his missionaries. This movie has special significance to us and to our family. Another interesting fact is that our daughter married the grandson of Tonga Toutai Paletu’a! It was very exciting to have so many connections.

We had been anticipating this movie since we found out there would be a Part II, having loved the first movie ten years earlier.

One thing I was interested in was that the same actor who played John Groberg’s part also starred in the second movie. He had hardly changed in many years and did an excellent job in both. Anne Hathaway who had played his wife in the first has gone on to become quite a Hollywood star, so they chose another actress, Natalie Medlock to play the part of his wife. I thought she did a marvelous job!

Natalie Medlock

I enjoyed the movie from start to finish beginning from when it showed BYU TV and Kolipoki Pictures. Those of us who have lived in Tonga or are somehow affiliated with it will know the significance of the name Kolipoki. It is “Groberg” Tonganized.

Us and the Grobergs

The actors chosen to play Toutai Paletu’a and his family were all excellent! The man who portrayed his father even made me dislike him very much for his portrayal of a very strict minister who would not admit his own faults.

There are many lessons throughout the movie that can benefit all people. Respect, forgiveness, love of family, hard work, the power of prayer, and fasting, Christlike love, and many more.

The fact that I personally knew Toutai Paletu’a and his wife made the movie so much more meaningful. When we lived in Tonga, when you met President Paletu’a, it seemed as if he could see right through you. He knew that I was having a very difficult time adjusting to my new life in the little islands. He told me if my husband ever gave me a hard time, he would talk to him. Somehow he sensed my culture shock and was trying to help me out.

The person that played our late prophet Thomas S. Monson has an uncanny likeness to him. I almost forgot it wasn’t really him. Kudos to the person who found him.

My favorite movies are those based on true life heroes. This was definitely one of our family’s favorites. One of the stories portrayed in the movie took me right back.

The Grobergs had several daughters until they moved to Tonga where they were blessed with a son, John. The baby became very ill and was close to death when the Queen and all the people who knew them fasted and prayed for him to get better.

When we lived in Tonga, I gave birth to my first son. He was very small and became so ill that he was unconscious. We rushed him to the hospital which was a 15-20 minute drive from where we lived in Liahona. I tried to wake him up all the way there, but he would not. Once we got him to the hospital, Dr. Havili gave him a shot of adrenalin. We were so happy to finally hear his little cry and knew he would be alright. I relived this experience through the movie.

The Grobergs worried over their sick son in the movie.

Myself, our missionaries, and my husband when we served in the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission 1989-1992

Spoiler alert: Why was the movie rated PG-13? I was a bit concerned taking my grandchildren to see it because of the rating. The fact that the father threatened his son not to come home ever again and asked his other son to throw a piglet into the ocean (substituting the pig for his son). The other part that was offensive, and I understand it did not really happen, was when the father buried one disobedient son in the sand at the beach and then there was a big storm that could have drowned him, but somehow he escaped. The other scene is when their baby was thrown to a person from the boat to the shore. My little granddaughter was quite upset about that. Someone mentioned the plucking of dead chickens as being offensive, but I was used to that when I lived in Tonga (try eating one of those rubber chickens)!

President Groberg and his son in the movie

My favorite part besides the adorable children’s interaction with their father was when the wife of Paletu’a’s father called him a stubborn pig. Because, he was!

I urge you all to see the movie and you will come away with a new awareness of life in Tonga and a greater appreciation for those that stay true to their beliefs despite many hardships. Congratulations Elder and Sister Groberg on fulfilling President Monson’s wish of a comeback!