Number 91 has angels that help him.
Breiden Fehoko’s Grandma was dying from cancer. After spring ball at LSU, Breiden flew back home to spend time with her. Breiden was Grandma’s baby of all the grand babies because Grandma and Grandpa lived with the Fehokos at the time. Breiden had taken care of Grandma during the months she was there. He lovingly combed her hair, helped clean her room, and fed her. They treasured their summers together. She would murmur, “Mahalo nui loa”, literally “very big thank you”.
Grandma could pass away at any time, but Breiden had to leave to go back to LSU, where he played on the Tigers’ interior defensive line.
Exactly nine days to the hour that Breiden left his Grandma’s side, she Face-Timed him, and told him she was dying. She made him promise he was not to return for her funeral.
A few seconds later, she passed.
Breiden’s Grandma has been an inspiration for him this season. But Grandma wasn’t the only one.
Grandma had joined Breiden’s older sister, Brittany, as heavenly reminders to live each workout, each film study, each practice, each game, to its fullest.
Brittany had passed away at birth so that Breiden could survive. Doctors had told his mother that if Brittany had lived, it would be impossible to have another baby. His sister died in order that Breiden could live.
Breiden tells his family he feels her presence all the time.
Says his mom: “I was not supposed to have a baby after Brittany. She left so Breiden could be here and live this life for them both. The two are literally twins. They looked alike in the baby pics taken in the hospital: Thick black hair, and fat cheeks with red rosy lips. So identical. We believe she stamped her imprint on him.”
That imprint was omnipresent.
While his mother was 7 months pregnant with Breiden, both survived a head-on collision with a drunk driver. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance techs lost Breiden’s heartbeat. Perhaps Brittany intervened, because in spite of the complications, Breiden was born a healthy 10-pound baby.
Mahalo nui loa.
He knew Brittany’s sacrifice was the greatest gift she could have given him, and to pay that forward, he was going to make it his life’s work to give himself to each present moment.
He had to give his all. Double. Now, triple, with Grandma’s passing.
Grandpa is also one of the angels around Breiden on the football field. Breiden had also given the same care to Grandpa before he had passed several years before. Caring for one’s own was what his family and the Polynesian culture revered. Breiden would cut his hair, change his clothes, wash his face and hands, and make Grandpa laugh. Breiden was good at that. Grandpa would laugh and be delighted when Breiden spread shaving cream on his face. He wasn’t used to that; it would tickle him. Grandpa would tell Breiden, “It feels nice and makes me smell nice,” in his own broken English. “Mahalo nui loa.”
The minute Breiden would see Grandpa, he would exclaim to him, “Motua, Tuanuku!!!“ His Grandpa would giggle because Tuanuku is the village in Tonga, where Grandpa came from. Grandpa finds it funny that his American grandson is praising his birthplace as the source of his power. That’s a pride thing for old Polynesians.
Grandpa would be ecstatic when Breiden would count his pennies and buy him a bottle of 2-liter Sprite. It was a thing they had. Although Grandpa was getting bad dementia, the minute Breiden walked into the house, Grandpa would smile with a broad nodding grin, recognizing both Breiden and the 2-liter Sprite.
His Mom says,
“Breiden’s family often tells him that he has a lot of angels looking over his shoulder , and as long as he keeps working and living right, he will truly achieve his goals.”
He feels the abiding presence of the larger family, his ohana, and he silently gives his thanks:
Mahalo nui loa.
Breiden would return home from Baton Rouge later in the season. He plans to buy a headstone for his Grandma when he makes it into the league. Just like the words that will be chiseled into that solid granite memento, Breiden’s resolve to do his personal best is permanently etched on his soul. That resolve will be inscribed as deeply as his family’s quest for the American Dream, the dream his Mom and Dad had longed for when they came to this country. Breiden plays for the angels in his life who guide his spirit, his work ethic, his gameplay.
To this day, Breiden keeps all of his Grandma and Grandpa’s voice messages on his phone. On his car’s dashboard by the air vent is a picture of his Grandma and Grandpa . Breiden told his family that no matter how rough or tough the day may be, when he gets in his car and sees their faces , and plays a voicemail, he always smiles. He feels the ohana.
His Mom says, “We know if Breiden is given the opportunity to play in the NFL, we know he will truly give it all he has and make the organization so proud”.
After all, he has angels to help him.
Mahalo nui loa.
“We know if Breiden is given the opportunity to play in the NFL, we know he will truly give it all he has and make the organization so proud”.
After all, he has two angels to help him.
Mahalo nui loa. Mahalo nui loa.
Editor’s babble: Happy BIrthday Breiden! Thank you for sharing the spirit of your beloved Grandma whose memory we will all now carry with us in our hearts. Thanks to Dean Kindig for sharing this wonderful story. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.