FAREWELL UNCLE GEORGE

This tribute was read at Uncle George's funeral

Aunty Muriel, Tieri, Johnny and Jenny. Our thoughts are with you today as you come together to bid farewell to your beloved husband and father. We the Rotuman branch of the family grieve with you as we have lost the last of our father’s line. Yet as we all grieve we thank Almighty God that Uncle George has been relieved of the burden of sickness that he has carried for so long. We thank God that Uncle George is now at peace and enfolded within the loving arms of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I learned of Uncle George’s passing on Thursday evening and on Friday afternoon, as is the custom in the islands, my husband and I prepared a tanoa of kava and paid our respects to Uncle. In the course of this I spoke in reminiscence of Uncle George and I would like to share my memories with you.

I first came into contact with Uncle George when I was a child of 7 years living in Rotuma with my father, mother brothers and sisters. I saw this man approaching who was full of life and laughter. He joined the family and every where around him there was laughter and joy. In the evening a dance was held in his honour and when he stood up he danced the jive and rock and roll. We had heard that these were the latest dances and everyone just looked on in admiration at a man with such fluidity of movement.

In the short time that Uncle George spent in Rotuma our home was filled with such activity and fun such as we had never before experienced. He was as different from his brother, our father, as chalk is to cheese. Whereas our father was quiet and reserved, Uncle George was active and ellubient.

 

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Many years later, as a young adult, it was my privilege to be able to visit Uncle George and Aunty Muriel there in 1977. Uncle and Aunty opened their home to me and welcomed me with open arms. Uncle George went to the extent of taking days off work just to show me around. He would take me to the pub and as soon as we entered he was greeted from every side of the room. Hi George, Hi George came from all corners. I said to him Uncle George you are so popular here, he looked at me and simply said “these are my friends”. He even took me behind the bar, as if he owned the place and showed me how to pour beer. The bar attendant just stood to one side and let Uncle George do what he wanted. I knew then that this to him was now home. Many an evening he would bring out his beloved electric steel guitar, play island music and we would join together and sing songs of our little island so far away across the ocean. As I left to return to Fiji, I said to him, “Uncle now it is your turn to visit.

Indeed he did later visit Fiji and along with my brothers and sisters it was our privilege to again host our Uncle. I recall at that time asking him “Uncle, tell me how did you ever manage to snare Aunty Muriel” He burst out in laughter and said “My dear, it was my music, my singing and my movement – referring of course to his dancing.

Uncle George was an accomplished musician and loved his music. I have no doubts that as you gather today to bid him farewell and to celebrate his life, he is sitting there in the big Rotuma in the skies, surrounded by friends and family as he plays and sings the songs of our islands.

I will close this short and very inadequate tribute by thanking Aunty Muriel, Tieri, Johnny and Jenny for bringing happiness and joy to our Uncle from the Islands.

Uncle George’s nephew, nieces, grand children and indeed great grandchildren of the family Marseu bid Uncle George farewell, go in peace to our heavenly father. In the words of one of our favourite hymns, “God be with you till me meet again” dear Uncle.