A Tribute to my Dad "Happy Father's Day!"

As a little boy growing up in the village I did not get to see my Dad often since he was in town working until the weekends when he would return home. In his absence, my paternal grandfather and grandmother assumed the role of parents and guardians for me and my siblings.

Some years later, I attended school in town - Leifiifi and then Samoa College - and so I was able to "reunite" and spend time with my Dad. We would leave together Monday morning, stayed in town and then return to the village on Friday. During the week he would make sure that I - and my older brother who attended Samoa College too - had money for bus fare and for lunch as well as our school fees. He was an independent and critical thinker. He had a knack for using quotable quotes, especially when he's giving us (the children) advice and counsel. His favorite maxim is "Usita'i muamua, faitio mulimuli!" (Obey first, complain after.) He especially was an ardent proponent of the following values in my life:

Like most Samoan parents, he would always remind us of the importance of education and gaining useful knowledge. His favorite advice for us as a motive to gain a good education - "ina ia aua ne'i outou ola falolo" (so you don't grow up impoverished and wanting).

Hard work

Dad drives best when he's drunk, though he
never had a ticket for doing so ..lol

Dad was a hard worker. He was active and was always occupied in doing something constructive. On a typical Saturday when he was home, he maintained the yard making sure the hedges and the flowering plants were trimmed and pruned. He always had a plan, even where each specific type of hibiscus was going to be planted. He wanted some kind of order or pattern in the overall look and layout of our yard. He loved gardening, flowers and plants. He could make an excellent professional landscaper.

Dad, remember this?
When he was not doing work around the house and the yard, he would be up in the mountains working in our plantations. On Saturdays, we would load all the tools we needed - machetes, shovels, planting sticks (‘oso), 44 gallon drums (usually 2) of water for the weed killer knapsack sprayer (fagavao - right), etc. - on our Toyota pickup and we would leave early morning and not return until late evening.

Most of the holidays were spent in the plantation. Even on Christmas day, Dad would arrange for the first five hours - starting at 6 or 7 - at the plantation and the rest of the day for the Christmas games and activities back in the village. Though at the time we as children felt reluctant, in hindsight, his examples had instilled in us lasting impressions and lessons of life.

Dad had this palpable sense of independence which I think he acquired as a result of being an only child. He was effectively self-reliant and he wanted the same for us. He worked hard so he would not depend on someone else.  He was independent but quite unselfish.  He loved and helped anyone who needed help.

He did have the common follies of smoking and drinking. His favorite brands were Marlboro and Steinlager respectively.(Sorry Dad, I had to include these two. Haha.) I'm convinced that he may have also listened to that one country song: "In Heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here." LOL! But it's the same follies that made him who he was as a father and as a person. He was always happy and cheerful - and loved life. 
Although I have some deep regrets for not spending time with him during his final days, I will forever remember him for his unforgettable influence, love and examples.  His legacy has served as a compass throughout my life.

Dad your spirit is certainly not far from us everyday, and especially this Father's Day ...so let me say, on behalf of all of us: "Happy Father's Day!"  Most of us now believe that "Families are Forever" and so someday we'll certainly be together ...again!   I love you Dad!

The stubborn son!

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