They say the older the grape the sweeter the juice and that’s exactly how things are for a sweet old lady from Afega, Saleaula and Safai.
Mitavale Levaopolo Sione, born 18 April 1907, celebrated her 109th birthday yesterday, making her possibly the oldest person in Samoa.
When the Samoa Observer contacted the Samoa Bureau of Statistics, an official said they could not confirm the age of the oldest person in Samoa.
She said it is very difficult to find out who the oldest person alive in Samoa is but she said it is very likely that Mitavale holds that title.
For the birthday girl though, that doesn’t matter. Every day is a blessing.
Her 55-year-old grandson Levaopolo Pauni spoke on behalf of Mitavale.
“The old lady had only four children with three boys and one girl,” he said. The three boys passed away and my mom, who is 78, is the only child left.
“Her husband Tita’e Aga also passed away a while back.
“We are on the 5th generation of children right now which is great because she (Mitavale) gets to see her great grandchildren grow up and they can spend quality time together.”
Levaopolo along with other family members have done so much to look after Mitavale so that she may live peacefully.
“I have lived with the old lady as far as I can remember and I just moved away recently, I dedicated a lot of time to look after her in her old age,” he said.
“She worked as a caregiver for the old back in the days and she loved to bless people.
“She’s (Mitavale) a dedicated Methodist church member; she is very strong in her faith and I believe that’s one reason she has lived all these years.
“From the first time she received her pension she would tell us all not to use a single bit of it but to give it all for work of the church; even till this day every cent of her pension goes into her offerings at church.”
The birthday lady was described as a non-picky person when it comes to her meals.
“Right now she doesn’t eat taro but she loves to eat bananas, she is not picky with her food which makes her easy to take care of because there are a few old people out there that are so demanding,” Levaopolo said.
“She’s thankful for any food given to her and she happily eats it all; as for beverages, she loves to drink koko and lemon leaf tea.”
Her grandchildren feel very blessed that Mitavale has stuck around all this time.
“We always give thanks to the lord for blessing her with so many years, we know that her strength comes from the source of all strength and that is God,” Levaopolo said,
“We continue to pray for many more years to come and so she could continue to bring joy to our family.”
As the birthday girl was preparing for her photo, she insisted that she combs her own hair and began to dance and sing songs showing so much strength. She believes that you are only as old as you feel.