Matahauans in Portland for Star's Funeral
Thanks to cousin's Puluno's computer, I have this opportunity to updates you all about our gathering here in Portland, Oregon.
I managed to arrive in Portland by car at around 7:30pm last night, after about 5 hours of driving across the border from where we live in Cloverdale, BC (outside Vancouver and 15 minutes from the border) to Portland via Seattle. I was unfortunate to get caught in the border traffic - a two-hour wait - plus another hour of my usual check with the border security (remember the situation with my Tongan passport? It still haunts me each time I cross the border!) though there was some computer delay in processing my paperwork.
Anyway, I made it to Maka's place (one of Star's younger brothers) where the wake will be held tonight. Initially I thought I'd be arriving in Portland at 4pm, the same time Uncle D and wife Latu arrived by plan from SLC. Because of my delay, I contacted Puluno to pick up D and Latu at the airport, but when he got there, he found that Star's sister, Fifita, had arrived there as well to pick them up. On my way here also I got a message from Aunty 'Analena that Grandpa Filimi had made it on plane from Texas. According to Filimi, it was the last flight, and he pulled out his rosary and ask Mother Mary for one last wish, and to his surprise his name was called to board. He arrived at about 7pm, and Puluno again dashed to pick him up at the airport. So all three of us finally met up at Maka's residence.
Outside Maka's residence, we needed to know what our own relatives here had planned for the funeral. So we called Laki (Kaumatule) for a quick huddle. We heard that 'Amelia (Pipi's daughter) had arrived also from Texas with a group of Matahau to present their own "hala". With Grandpa Filimi, we joined them in the presentation of their gifts. But we decided that, given the circumstances, Uncle D and I will present our envelope directly to Simila and Siale and their family. We did this after a family prayer that was called by Matalave (Star's older brother) where the family, relatives and Matahau people joined together. D Tavo humbly offered our condolences on behalf of Fatai and Ekuasi' children and grandchildren, and particularly Uncle Tavo who forged a wonderful brotherly friendship and relationship with Star, his parents and the rest of the siblings. Mom Siale responded on behalf of the family and shared with us her memories of the two families and Tavo in particular. It was wonderful to hear such great stories from Siale and her family, and how much we meant to Star, to them, and theirs to us as well. At the end of the night, I left to reside with cousin Puluno and his eldest son Soane Hiko Jr at his home (his wife and son Tino Jr are out visiting some relatives in Tacoma) while D Tavo and Latu went with Talanoa Falepapalangi. Grandpa Filimi had left earlier with Loe Kaumatule and family, who live just minutes away in Vancouver (Washington), just across the river from Portland. Last night we met up with a lot of the 'Ita and Selu clans. The fahu, Sulifa, and her sisters Mele Kataki, Alo'i and their families. Most of them drove here from the Frisco area - a 10 hours drive. All of Siale and Simila's siblings and their families are here. We met the sisters, Fifita and Alo'i (who came from SLC), and the remaining brothers Matalave, Maka and Tonga (the youngest), along with each of their families. We also met the widow 'Oloka and the kids - 2 daughters and sons, all grown up just as big as their parents.
The group that came from Texas include's Amelia's husband, Malakai, Losana, and Hilamani's family. I heard from Tetilisi Uia that Mavae, wife Lusia and Tevita (T-So'e) and others are expected to arrived by car this morning from Palo Alto, California. Vailea is already here. We met Tatau (Veainu's son) who's here as well from SLC. He's staying with Uncle D at Talanoa's place, and he looks fine.
We met the Matahau Town Officer, 'Asaeli Tuiaki, who accompanied Simila all the way from Tonga. I must say that the village (or 'Asaeli on his own) made the great decision to be here, representing the village given how much the village meant for Star and what he had done for the village.
Out here in Portland, Uncle Laki and Faifekau Finau Me'afo'ou led the "matapule faifatongia" (family's spokepersons) at the residence. They were assisted by Tatau and Sosaia Koloti (Veainu's son) and many others of our own villagers residing here in Portland.
Among others we met already: Seiloni Fanguna, Luni (Sita's son), Tetilisi, Tulumi Moala (and mom), Silifou 'Aisea, and others that escaped me now.
Anyway, it's Sunday prayer day today. I'm not sure if Puluno can find us a church. Hopefully Grandpa Filimi's get to find mass somewhere nearby. But we're all going to gather at Maka's residence later this afternoon for the preparation for the wake tonight, when all the families, relatives, villagers and friends will gather for prayers and one last farewell to Star. There are plenty of Matahau here in Portland we have yet to meet, and many others from other states who're making their way here right now. Tomorrow is the funeral, and don't have the details for that yet. But I was able to reschedule all my classes for Tuesday in order for me to stay on for the funeral. I will be driving back to Canada Monday night.
I don't have a great camera for night pictures. So I chose to wait for today to get some of all the happenings and clear shots of everyone we met. I hope I will continue to updates you all thanks to Puluno's internet access here at his place.