Showing posts with label Enid Westerlund. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Enid Westerlund. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Keep your love letters.

At this age of technology and fast wagging tongues, our houses are overflowing with old (real) stuff that we used to love and now neglect.  That old grandma-ish shoe box, the lace curtain which can be turned into a wedding dress (God forbid), the seashell necklaces that line our walls, framing our photos and dozens of hard cover books that our children do not read anymore.

I am as old fashioned as hard cover books and hand written letters.  There is that old paper smell that makes the senses come alive. Earthy, ancient, old money scent. I used to love reading books more than sleeping.  The faster I read, the more I learn. The hand written letters from mother dearest and siblings are priceless and I still have my love suitcase full of letters. The anticipation for a post office letter with stamps and all just warms the heart, especially when you are far away from home.  When you open the mail box and a letter with your name on it stares back at you, it's a cause for celebration.  It means, someone, somewhere is not only thinking of you but you are important enough for them to put those thoughts on paper!

I've coveted hand written letters since I could hop on a plane by myself.  I was 9 years old when I went on my first un-accompanied minor journey.  An old past time was to go through mother dearest's ancient letters from her own grand mother.  In those letters were stories of a time that is long gone,  when flights between Samoa and New Zealand were few and far in between, the letters which are dated and fragile. Paper might be  meaningless but the words describing of life in downtown Auckland in the 60s and just the thought of this old lady slouching over the table as she wrote holds a very high sentimental value.

In continuing tradition, mother dearest used to write me several letters a month throughout highschool and university life.  They usually started with " Faafetai i le Atua ua tatou aulia mai lenei aso fou" (Thank you Lord for bringing us into this new day), followed by the usual lecture parents give their children when they leave the nest.  

"Try hard in school, say your prayers every morning, look after your younger siblings, set an example for other children, here is the money and here is a list of things to spend it on and lastly, be safe and make us proud".

She wrote to me until my third degree.  I guess she figured I was old enough and that studying in London was not too big a deal like studying in Auckland, Australia or Singapore.  I've received so many letters from people, even those I did not know well.   These pieces of paper still hold meaning and were a comfort in times of loneliness and struggle.  The writers are people that have enriched my life with their encouragements. One common denominator in most of my letters is God and my family's faith in me.  In particular, I have an older sister whose faith in my academic abilities is still unfounded.  I've been a thorn in her side since I laid eyes on her.  It's probably that blind faith that helped me achieve exceptionally well in school.  At the end of one letter she wrote:

Try hard in school, I know you can do it.  I love you heaps.  Your victory, your success is mine.  So go to the top of the world. Never forget to pray and never forget God is there for you when you feel lonely  

In continuing the old tradition, I told my special friend at the time to send me hand written letters when I was away at University of Westminster, London . Emails are rather impersonal and can be easily deleted but a love letter is something one can cherish and reread. I know of many mothers who still write to their children regardless of technology.  Please continue to write.  If your child is anything like me, they might act tough on the surface when they board the plane back to university or college but when they are homesick, they will slowly unfold your letter and read it again.  Letter writing not only improves your cursive writing, it also tells your mother/child how well you write, your sentence structure, your very thoughts.  My mother is much nicer on paper as there is no volume although the words still hold much power. So continue to write and wait for a reply. Keep your letters close and love letters closer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013



     Today, I woke up feeling a bit better from last night. No, there was no hangover or panda eyes, just an appreciation for life and most importantly health, recovering well from a nasty flu bug that's been binging everyone on the nose.  I went to see the optometrist on Monday and my eyes are healthy, except that my left eye is slightly weaker than my right and my new specs will be adjusted accordingly.  While waiting for the optometrist to arrive, I sat in front of her office thinking how fortunate I am, to know about the health services offered at the Hospital including the Samoa Vision Services  and also the means to get there.  I have been in the hospital when the Emergency/Out Patient Unit with so many people waiting, babies crying, old men twitching nervously waiting for their daughters and very sick people complaining about the Health Services. Doctors receive the most complaints about how 'slow' and 'uncaring' they are towards their patients.  I have heard patients' complaints each time. I have heard people tell the doctor what they need because for some reason, the doctor was not smart enough to know their symptoms and appropriate medication?  Is the service slow? Yes, sometimes.  Are they uncaring? I think not.  Sure, health professionals take their time seeing patients and the outpatient probably receives more visits than any other section of the hospital on any given day.  They also receive the most complaints because of the number of beds available.  I have heard some rather absurd, funny stories while waiting in the same section.  Samoans love to exaggerate and are great storytellers.  One woman told me that she was dying and that she could hardly breath.  From what I could see, she was experiencing an allergic reaction to something she consumed or was close to.  With my Form 6 Biology class knowledge, I asked her several questions (playing the doctor), if she had eaten something she's never had before and if she was allergic to certain foods.  The poor woman did not know what 'allergic' meant and claimed she had eaten octopus in coconut cream. Bingo! Soon after, it was her turn to see the doctor and I was right, allergic reaction to octopus, she was not dying.
    November/December are thanksgiving months.  This is the time of year we reflect on the last ten months expressing thankful prayers for  God's protection and guidance in bringing us thus far.  For adding each new day to our lives despite the trials we go through and days where we just do not want to get out of bed, we are still here, air in and out of lungs, we are thankful. Today, I thank God for my health and even though I have been feeling under the weather these past few days, I am still here. I thank him for professionals such as doctors, optometrists, nutritionists, nurses and other health professionals that work in Samoa. 

Looking after peoples' health is not an easy job. I have five close friends who are doctors in different fields and I will never envy them.  Their job is hard, trying, challenging,sad and mostly rewarding. I have sat at dinner tables with them discussing the pressures of work.  I have listened to the horror stories about teenagers giving birth, patients' families telling them off, older nurses embarrassing them in front of patients and many dates we've missed due to their busy work schedules.  I have seen the toll that medicine life has taken on them.  These are the same friends I've had since primary school days, one I knew since I was 3.  I have one friend who was just ready to quit and change professions because of the pressures that our people exert on them.  They graduated young, only 23/24 and thrown into the Samoan arena without a life jacket.  They had to find their way and learning procedures fast including several defense mechanisms when people complain to them, about them and so forth. All these confirm that I should never be a doctor.  First, I do not have the patience and I don't have the stomach to cut people up. The only time I would want to be a doctor is when a close friend or family member is in pain.
    Doctors are some of the most hard working people.  They can work anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on the number of staff available.  If you are a student contemplating on being the cool doctor like the twitchy, old and limping guy in 'House', earning thousands of dollars, owning a brand new car/house after working for 3 years in Samoa, I promise you now that you will be sorely disappointed.  Then again, if you ask most doctors, they don't 'do it for the money'.  They do it for our people because we do not have a choice or the monetary power to attract first class medical professionals from overseas to look after our hospital all year round.  In addition, if you are a doctor you will be peed on, puked on,sworn at and at some point you will have all sorts of bodily fluids sprayed across your face. Let his blog be an encouragement and also an informative note to our people.

Samoans are people of courage and are very proud but somehow these attributes rarely drift to our health genes.  Most people wait until they think they are dying before going to the hospital.  Sometimes, they leave little infections long enough to develop into cancerous and elephant sized problems and by then it's too late.  Understandably, there are many contributing factors  such as poor diet, lack of exercise, bad habits that lead to poor health.  There are preventive measures we can take to be better at looking after ourselves.  We are hospitable people, we break out the fine china, the brand new sheets/towels when we have visitors while we use the broken dishes and the beat up towels with holes for our own use.  Why do we do these to ourselves? Why do we save the best for others? Today we should start using our brand new things for ourselves and our family.  Today we should look after ourselves better.  Today, we should be more patient with our doctors and health professionals just like they are with us.  Today, we should encourage those who have good hearts, healthy brains, who want to be health professionals in the future to do so.  People will always find something to complain about whether it's at the hospital or restaurant.  Today, we should be thankful that God exists and he is in control of everything regardless of what our mere opinions or lack thereof of him.  Take care of our bodies, it's the only place we have to live in and no wonder the bible says it's a temple. 

I leave you now with this beautiful quote;
'The thousand mysteries around us would not trouble but interest us, if only we had cheerful, healthy hearts.
~~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche~~

Ehhh..your grandmother was hot too!

My vision fulfilled When Dr A (fiancee) proposed 2 new years ago, I suggested a photo shoot of some sort. Of course being shy with ...