Tutu (that is what we call her in our family - it is Hawaiian for grandmother) has not had an easy life. She has worked hard and cared for many people, but I have never heard her utter a word of complaint. What I have heard and seen is her strong commitment to the Lord and to serving others.
When I first met Tutu, (she wasn’t a Tutu yet), she was busy raising her three children and caring for her aging mother. Tutu was working full time at a private school so her children could receive an excellent education. My future husband was the oldest of the three children and just starting high school at the time. After her mother died, Tutu married a man with three teen-age sons and an elderly mother. Tutu continued to work at the school and took on the task of cooking, cleaning, and caring for six children and her new mother-in-law (a sweet yet feisty Scottish lady). I saw this petite Hawaiian woman continually sacrifice her “self” and her comfort for the needs and wants of others. She was a giver and she was not a grumbler.
It was many years later, that I married Tutu’s firstborn and soon her first grandson came along, making her a true Tutu. Today she has six grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. She may not have had much to give them of material things but she has given and continues to give us all the kind of love that will live in our hearts forever. It is the kind of love she has always given me, the kind of love that comes from having the Risen Christ dwelling in her heart.
Tutu never had very much in the way of worldly wealth, but she has always been spiritually rich. That must be why she has always had a great deal of love and joy to share. In fact, now, at the age of 96 and in failing health (although you would never know it to look at her), Tutu has not changed at all. She is still beautiful both inside and out. She ALWAYS has a smile to give! She is outgoing and encouraging to everyone she meets. She still has that warm and welcoming Hawaiian way even though she has lived away from the islands for many years. And everybody notices. Everybody sees something special in her -- including doctors, nurses, and caregivers.
Oh, and one of the most important things I wanted to tell you -- in the three days I was blessed to spend with Tutu last week, I never heard her say one negative word. Instead, she constantly uplifted everyone around her, family, friends, caregivers, and strangers alike. When I think about my own life, I am ashamed of how many times I let the smile slip from my face and the times I grumble to myself, or aloud, about something that is really quite insignificant. My special time with Tutu, the quintessential gracious Hawaiian lady, has reminded me of how much I want to be like her: I want to be a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). I want to be Christ-like in all I do and say. I want others to see Christ in me. I want to give from what God has given me to bless others -- even when all I have left to give is a smile and a kind word. I want my words to be full of grace and blessing, uplifting others instead of promoting myself. I want to be a true ambassador of the Lord wherever He places me. I want to be like Tutu, making the world a better place just by being in it.
I thank God for giving me Tutu, a truly godly woman, as an example in my life. And I am thankful for Tutu's faithfulness and trust in the Lord. She has never wavered in all the years I have known her. I hope you have been blessed by having a faithful Christian example like Tutu in your life. Mostly, I hope you will want to be that kind of example to others.
Me Ke Aloha Pumehana,