Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity.
It’s something I discussed last week, but today, I’m handing the blog over to my mum, Célestine, to honor a generous woman in my family: Henriette Célestine Estall. I hope you enjoy her story.
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Mum and I, 1988.
Henriette Célestine Estall
Turia knows my story. I was fostered. In Tahiti we call this genre of adoption, fa’amu. To feed. Food, mana love power. Experiences, discoveries. Memories.
I’ve spoken about my foster mum/Marraine (Godmother) to my four children on many occasions, when I would thank her out loud for those valuable skills she had passed onto me; to pass on. Henriette has been gone for thirty years. I still feel her relevant importance in my life.
When what happened to my daughter in that marathon, and for the next six months my baby lived at Concord Hospital, I called upon Marraine more often than people know. To empower me, feeling vulnerable on the solitary bench facing the mangroves. Then I’d write down ideas in my notebook. We, Michael Hoskins and I, must tap into Turia’s warrior Leo side.
Henriette bought me my first book ever, forty-two years ago. Les Aventures d’Olivier Twist.
That one book opened a new path in my destiny, it woke up the reader within me. Hundreds of books later I became a novelist published in fifteen countries, the first Indigenous to win the Prix Littéraire des étudiants in French Polynesia, my voice had resonated with the younger generation. I’m sure Henriette can see the beautiful statue on top of my bookcase of a woman deep in thought, reminding me of her in a way.
The creative thinker.
Henriette didn’t have to nurture me however she chose to, to make a difference, because she could. When you can do something, do that something. Don’t say I’m going to do it, just do it. Then say, I did it.
She took the French Government to court over crown land like the Australian Mabo, and won the case. Her sons still talk about it.
Marraine had two snacks (snack bars). She loved preparing food, cooking, inventing, feeding, and interacting with people when Henriette would speak her well-spoken words. The warmth in her eyes, contagious. She called me: “Championne.”
For being a hard-worker. My four children will testify the fact that indeed, I am a hard-worker. And I should open a snack. Chez Mama Célestine. Apparently I’d kick arse. People would be queuing up for Mum’s poisson cru and banana po’e.
However this year 2016, when in August I will turn fifty, my dream is to write for children. This will be the new path of my destiny, I feel it.
(I’ve already started. It’s a lot of fun making children laugh!).
– Célestine Hitiura Vaite
NB. Fa’amu is a traditional adoption which allows the mother to visit. I don’t have the timid personality of my Mum, Mamie, Viola Hitiura Vaite, but according to my kids I am looking more and more like Mamie these days. Especially in winter, when I wear a beanie.
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