Dad’s earthly journey comes to an end

Me and my dad, May 2009

This past weekend we made the trip to my sisters house in Pocatello, Idaho to spend time with our father in the waning moments of his life. His doctor’s informed us on Thursday that his kidney’s had shut down and there was not much else that could be done for him.

One family after another arrived on that blustery, snowy day until the remaining seven children of Tagomoa and Faleupolu Matua (my brother Kepi passed in 2010), their spouses and children were assembled to pay tribute to, serenade and say final farewells to our beloved patriarch.

Stubborn to the end, dad held on until he had said goodbye to every last member of the family, my brother in-law Ivor Filiaga being the last to bid farewell to the man who taught us much about sacrifice, service and love. As we reminisced about our time with dad and sang songs at his bedside it was hard not to shed tears. It’s hard to let go. No matter how long you prepare for the inevitable, the unavoidable cannot provide comfort when it finally happens.

When we left dad’s side to travel back home I told myself that I would see him again soon. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But in my heart I know and have faith that I will just as I have held that same belief with my mother who passed in 1993 and my brother Kepi. That faith in the unknown, the unseen is what bolsters my resolve in these trying times and gives me the strength to remember my loved ones as they were when memories are fleeting.

Though dad’s passing deeply distresses my soul I am comforted by the fact that he is no longer in pain. Seeing this once powerful man with a large yet humble presence reduced to nothing was unsettling and depressing. But I will remember him for the wonderful teacher and lowly leader that he was. He taught me many things but the ones that stand out most in my mind are the way that he led by example. Dad always taught us that ‘in order to do a job right, you have to do it yourself,’ and he lived that motto every day of his life until Alzheimer’s completely robbed him of that capacity. And yet, even that horrible disease could not take away his zeal for life.

I am so grateful to my sisters Teuila, Mandy, Annette and Theresa for their selfless sacrifice as caretakers during the last few years of life. I am eternally grateful to the doctors, nursers and medical staff that cared for him and for his own personal nurse Shirleen Valai who showed him genuine love and compassion throughout his illness.

As a kid you often wonder what your dad thinks of you as a person; at least I did. I wonder if I made him proud or if I made him happy, made him smile. But there is one thing I never wondered about and that is whether or not he loved his children. I know that my father loved me and my siblings because he showed us in many ways. Even though he grew up “Old Skool” dad found ways to show how much he loved us and that was his gift. And in the days when Alzheimer’s had left him a shell of the man that he once was, you knew when he had a moment of clarity because he would look you straight in the eye and his tears would flow with love and you could feel it as if it were a blanket being thrown over your heart to heal and warm you from within.

I will miss him dearly. In the coming days we will have many hours to remember him in words and thoughts. To people outside our home he was known as a teacher, a leader, a voice of reason, a servant of God. To me, he will always be ‘Dad’. I love you pop!

28 thoughts on “Dad’s earthly journey comes to an end

  1. Very sweet and loving tribute to your dad. Thanks for sharing. May you be comforted in your sorrow and continue to grow in faith, hope and confidence.

  2. Seti,
    I am grateful for your Dad example as I remember him as a kind and loving towards me. I was blessed to part of your family life. Please know my support and love is there for you and your family at this time of your loss. Alofa atu ia outou uma.
    Michael Leilua

  3. Condolences to you and your family uso! May the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation be a comforting notion and may the reality of lifes inevitable be a reminder that we must do all we have been sent here to do and prepare to return in faith and joy to our Father which is in heaven! Alofa atu!!

    Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr.

  4. Wow! I am very sorry to hear about your dad Seti..i enjoyed reading your story, how fast coming back our memory about a lovely teacher and a good leader the old days.

    We truly with u and the your family Seti in this difficult time of passed away of your loving father.

    We love you guys! Just be strong and belive that our families are forever..


    Aofia Mauigoa n the family.

  5. Love and condolences from your family here in Australia. Ia manuia Lou Malaga Uncle Moa! Keep the faith Seti, families are forever, in this life and then next.

  6. Beautifully written cuz! I’m so sad to hear of Uncle’s passing, but am so happy for the reunion in heaven. I love you Seti! Please keep us posted on Uncle’s funeral details, and let us know if you need anything. Alofa tele mo outou uma!

  7. Dear Seti, love you ever so much and your family. I have no doubt that he’s well pleased with all you have done along with your siblings. He is gone but his examples will live on, and you are to continue it for the next on generation. Proud of you kids, and our prayers and hearts are with you and your siblings. I am sure aunty Polu is waiting with smiles from above to see her companion come home with much honor. Please please call me at work 3660533 or home 8012945178 and let us know when the funueral will be and if there is anything that we can do from our end. Much alofas to you all. rita

  8. Lovely tribute. I lost my sweet dad just 6 months ago and he, like your father, suffered to the end. It is so hard to let go. I kept saying, “you can only say ‘good-bye’ so many times and somebody has to hang up the phone!” I’m so thankful that nothing more had to be said with my dad. It sounds like you all experienced the same thing. What a great blessing to know that he is now free from the bondage of his mortal body. His mind is clear and his pain is gone. Someone once told me that the only way to avoid pain is to never have loved. I’m sorry for your loss, but so glad that you shared a lifetime of love with your dad. I’m thinking of you and your family…AND I’m SO thankful that Kingston is out of the woods! Love to your family:)

  9. Love and condolences to you and the fam Seti!! Your dad is a great man and I’m honored to have known him. This is a beautiful tribute to him. We love our Matua family dearly and will remember you all in our prayers!!! Families are Forever!!! Alofa’s… Leah & Foi 😉

  10. Seti, your Dad was indeed a very humble man. It is a comfort to know that he is no longer in pain and that you will see him again. Thank goodness for the teachings of this marvelous gospel that we’re so fortunate to be a part of. May those teachings and knowledge comfort you and the rest of the Matua family during this time of mourning. Alofas!

  11. We are so sorry to hear about the passing of your father. Your family will be in our prayers. May Heavenly Father send the comfort and peace you all need at this time.

  12. Condolences to your family. I’m very shocked because I haven’t seen your dad in a long time. And now to see him so different in stature. I remember him and his loving wife as if yesterday. I first met them in Provo when they only had Teuila and as a young loving couple and very happy. They were both very humble people. And I loved that about them. Your father helped many of our Samoan people prepare for when our time is up here on earth with burial grounds including me. He truly was a magnificent man. God bless you all.

  13. Dear Seti,
    Heavenly Father is truly a loving being. He saw how much Dad had suffered with his illness and with love in His heart Dad was taken back so he can be free of pain. Our heart goes out to you and all your siblings as you mourn and celebrate Dads life. May Heavenly Father embrace you all in His loving arms as you’re comforted in the knowledge that ‘Families Are Forever’. I can honestly say I know, understand and feel your pain, but it’s only for a moment. Dads legacy lives on in you and all his loved ones. Pray for peace and comfort.

    Love you all,

    Linda Leituala

  14. Seti,

    You father IS a wonderful man. I was privileged to know him and be his bishop for a season. I could see the man he was — and still longed to be — whenever I looked deep into his eyes. God will now use him for a greater purpose as he is with your mom and Kepi. I will be honored to be with your family this weekend. Much alofas, Darin Underwood

  15. Le Uso Seti,
    Talofa e, O upu a le atunu’u i taimi fa’apenei, “Aue ua maliliu toa ua maumau ai aupega o le taua” Seti, it was beautifully said. Your father was one of the guiding stars for so many people of our beloved country of Samoa, especially those that were taught and educated by him. His testimony and love of the Savior has touched so many lives and i am one of those.
    My deepest condolences to you and your family uso. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Ia manatua, “Ua oti atu se toa, ae ua tulai mai se toa.” You’re your father’s image. I know your dad is very proud of you.

    Male Alofa tele,
    Tou Magalogo & Aiga.

  16. I’m sitting @ work cryin’, remebering this wonderful, amazing, humble, spiritual man. He sold 6 plots to my parents and thanks to him, my parents were able to use those plots for my twins, my brother, sister and my aunty. He used to always say to my dad, “Soia soga faia ou kala i kamaiki!” Kalofae ia Bro. Matua. I know he’s in a better place w/no more suffering to his poor old, fragile body. I know he’s enjoying his reunion w/his loved ones that has passed on, especially w/his sweet n lovely wife. My condolences to all of the Matua Family. May our Heavenly Father, ease ur pain and heartaches during this time. I’m so grateful for the gospel and its teachings, especially knowing about the Plan of Salvation. Thank you for this beautiful article, Seti. Your parents raised some pretty awesome kids! God Bless! 🙂

  17. Seti,
    Deepest condolences to you and your family from a fellow blogger and her family. Reading your tribute to your father reminds me so much of my father, it just so happens that we celebrated his 80th bday the same weekend you were saying goodbye to yours. How fortunate we are to have such fathers in our lives. May you be comforted by the memories you have of your father and the wonderful legacy of selfless service, leadership and love he’s left behind.
    Alofa atu,
    Moira and family

  18. Sad to hear about your Dad Seti, He was a great man, very humble & caring…your family were so kind to me when I served my mission in Saaga Siumu back in 1984. Both Him & mother Polu were great parents. My thoughts & prayers are with you and the rest of the Matua Family.

    Much Alofas from Aotearoa,
    Sala Te’o Tanuvasa Tiatia.

  19. Dear Matua Family,
    So sorry to hear about your dad…he was loved by many and he will be eagerly waiting for your arrival alongside your mother on the otherside. We have such great memories together and they will be cherished forever! We love you all very much!!! The Oler family xoxox

  20. I am so very overwhelmed by the love and support from you, our wonderful friends and family. Thank you so much for your kindness. We share with you our love and appreciation for your words of strength and know that our father would have loved to greet each of you individually. God bless!

  21. Well Bro, I didn’t know your dad but I already know that he was a kind and loving man. He also had in mind his family first in everything. You might the ask your self how would I know when I didn’t even know him. Well brother you are right but I know you and I are the shadows of our parents. Which means that both your parents in still in you the values that you and your family are currently cherishing in your lives now

  22. Seti n all Matua Clan,

    We want to express our deepest and sincere condolences to u and ur family. I know how hard it is losing a parent. I know your parents and brother are having a sweet reunion up in heaven right now. I know thru ur understanding of the plan of salvation it will help u thru this. May the Lord comfort u now and always. I know your dad’s legacy will live on thru you and your children. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  23. Such a beautiful tribute!

    Our deepest condolences for your loss. May the Good Lord bring peace and comfort to your hearts in this time of sadness.

    Families are forever!


    from Sydney Australia Xox

  24. My thoughts are with you and your family Seti. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and moving tribute to your father and the strength of his love, leadership and example.

  25. Sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I am also grateful that he’s no longer suffering, and that he’s no reunited with your mother and your brother. Many thoughts and prayers going your way. I’m also glad to hear that your son is doing better. Blessings to you and yours, Seti.

  26. My condolences to you and your family, my dad has suffered multiple strokes and he is currently under hospice care. Reading this post reminds me of my dad and definitely makes me more grateful of the time I still have to spend with him. Thanks and our prayers are with you and the Matua fam!

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