Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tribute to my MIL

On the 4th anniversary of her death, I couldn't let this day pass without recognizing my sweet MIL. I have yet to meet one person that didn't have amazing things to say about my mother-in-law Janet. Some may attribute this to the fact that she is deceased, and that it is common for people to idealize those who have passed on. However, I believe she is an exception to that rule. I have no doubt whatsoever that she was just as genuinely kind-hearted, selfless and loved by all throughout her lifetime.

Uniquely, I was blessed to have the privilege of knowing Janet, even though she had passed away before her son and I met. This is one of the dearest, sacred tender mercies I treasure in my life. Vaka's oldest sister, Annetta, was my YW leader growing up and her husband Pate was our home teacher for a long while as well. Being in the same ward for so many years, I remember the numerous times Janet came to visit her daughter and grandchildren. (Vaka did too, but apparently he wasn't as memorable) :) I never had a real personal relationship with her, but rather just knew her in passing and as a recurring visitor in our ward. Yet I am so grateful to have felt her spirit and presence and possess my own memories of her, rather than only coming to know of her through what I hear from others.

One of the main things I admire about Janet was her ability to adapt to and internalize the Tongan culture. Just a bit of proof to illustrate how great she was at this: I remember being shocked when Vaka told me that his mom was palangi... in all the years I had seen her, I had always thought she was just an extremely fair Tongan. :) She is well known among many Tongans for her ability to speak the language like a native... and those that have tried to learn the language, know how difficult that is. It is one thing to understand it, and quite another to speak it and speak it correctly. I will be so proud of myself if I can just come to understand it in my lifetime!! Janet paved the way in uniting two cultures into one family, and I am so grateful for the courage and faith she exercised to do so, making the integration of two cultures into our own family so much easier for Vaka and I.

Even though Janet is no longer on this earth, she has left quite a legacy. She was a wonderful teacher, wife and mother. I am sure raising her 12 children was one of her greatest accomplishments... something only someone quite angelic could do.

('Ulu'amu & Janet family)

We are so blessed to have the gospel and the sweet assurance it brings that there is life beyond our earthly existence. I love to often sit and think about the wonderful things our loved ones are continuing to do as they live on elsewhere. I imagine Janet is hard at work making just as many friends and blessing as many lives as she did while she was here. I am also grateful for our knowledge of eternal families and for the opportunity Janet has to continue to bless our lives from another sphere. I have had numerous experiences where I have felt her presence-- our sealing being one of the most special. It is comforting to know she was able to witness that special event in our lives.

(visiting mom on our wedding day)

The Tu'ifua family motto is "our family can be forever." In one of her last letters to Vaka before her passing, she reiterated this in writing "remember to keep yourself worthy to help our forever family." I am grateful for her humble righteousness in teaching her children, and instilling such values in her son which prepared him to be the amazing husband and future father that he is. Thank you Janet, we love and miss you!!


The Birch said...

What a beautiful and sweet tribute to someone who sounds like such a wonderful woman! I'm sure she loves you as much as you obviously love her.

Kristen said...

You are so right. Today is the anniversary. I was there. For everything. So wierd how we let things slip from our memories. Thank you Brooke for remembering, and reminding us to all be a little better at not letting important things slip away.
:) Love ya,