A picture of longevity ... 109-year-old Stella Tinaibolaimacuata outside her home at Viriqilai Village, Macuata.
Even though the Fiji newspapers are now running soft stories, some of them are interesting. (The journalist got into trouble with the military censors last week for running a story about violence in Labasa so I guess now Theresa is being cautious.) One article today is about an elderly lady with a heart that does not wear out. She lives in Macuata in the Sasa district west of Labasa (in the hills near Seaqaqa). A few days ago there was another story about a woman in Macuata who was 105. Is there a competition going on? I asked Peceli why some women from the Seaqaqa area live so long and he said - they don't have stress, they have a loving family, they eat very basic meals of fresh vegetables and fish and keep away from city lights. Okay, fair enough.
Here is the story by Theresa:
Old is goldBy THERESA RALOGAIVAU
Monday, May 18, 2009
AT 109, Stella Lewaca Tinaibolaimacuata has a great sense of humour, a lively attitude towards life and is an inspiration to the young and old in her village. Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata of Viriqilai Village in Sasa district, Macuata, was not surprised when the Fiji Times visited her secluded village outside Labasa on Saturday.
Her crinkly eyes lit up when the team arrived and she sat up from where she lay singing a lullaby to her great, great granddaughter.
She then walked outside with the aid of a walking stick, picked some bele for the evening meal and laughed at the repeated clicks of the camera. "Sa se'a tina a heku i aba (plenty pictures of me)," she said.
The centenarian remembers she was born the same year the Nabala Catholic School in Macuata was established. The school held its centennial celebrations in 2001, which also marked her 100th birthday.
She may be the oldest person in Fiji and one of the oldest in the Pacific region, but that carries little weight for the cheerful grandmother, who still goes out fishing for malea (tilapia) from the river that runs by the village. She said she still wants to contribute to the family's daily meals and help with the chores.
On any given day, according to the villagers, Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata can be seen with a knife in hand weeding around the compound or washing at the river. Every now and then she cooks a meal and babysits her great grandchildren's kids. She finds it very hard to just lie down and wait for the hours to go by. Aside from a slight hearing impediment, she still reads without the aid of glasses and has an unfaltering memory.
This is evident by the ease with which she remembers the names of great grandchildren, relatives and friends. Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata, the fourth eldest in a family of 10 siblings, has survived two husbands, bore seven children, two of whom have died, and has about 100 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren in all.
She stated her secret to longevity is simply putting God first in everything she does. That and a heavy reliance on local fresh food like bele and less of the processed variety, drinking lots of water, laughing often, forgiving others, having a good heart, brushing aside anger and praying often. She said she tries to emulate her favourite person Mother Mary who stood by the cross and watched her son die.
Her grandson Lino Seru, 65, said his grandmother, a Catholic, can be heard reciting the rosary from when the cock crows until sunrise. And many times late at night a rustling sound in the dark and the smell of tobacco lets everyone know their favourite granny is enjoying one of her suki (Fijian tobacco) sessions. "She just loves her suki and this is a habit she has not been able to leave since she was a young woman," Mr Seru said. "When we go to town she'll remind us to buy some suki and because we know this is something she loves, we always do."
At one of these sessions, suki in hand, she regaled everyone with a funny memory from the past when she was out to catch prawns and slipped down a slope. At her age, Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata said she has a lot to be thankful for, for being allowed to live a long life to see many of her generations grow up, for not suffering from any sickness and being allowed more time to prepare for the afterlife.
I also notice that the Fiji Daily Post are running soft stories, including some nostalgia. (A brief article about the recent arrest of Lasaru and the caution to the Methodist Church looked like a handout.) Three interesting posts in the Fiji Daily Post are about Nausori town in the old days when there was a CSR mill there and barracks. Frank Shaw wrote the articles. They can be found by doing a google search for 'Nausori mon amour'.