He did not treat each of us different from the other

Kaniva siaki 3
Siaski Sanalio Palusa

On the 16th February 1944 Falakiko Palusa Siaki Sanalio was born into this world from two loving parents. His father’s name was Sanalio Lopeti from a small town called Pea, and his mother was Sesilia Ika Fisi’ione from a small town called Tofoa both from Tongatapu.

My name is Sesilia Ika Fisi’ione Sanalio and I am the 7th child out of the 9 children and Falakiko Palusa Siaki Sanalio is my father who I have always been so proud of to call my father. My father was such a loving and caring man especially to his children and he did not treat each of us different from the other. He was the most down to earth person and was humbly loved by many, old, young, male, female, big and small.


My father was not the type of person that would go and make friends with anyone and anybody and that was because he was always cautious about whom he came in contact with, but his humorous ways and down to earth personality stood out naturally for he was loved not only by his own family and the family of his wife but also by his friends and all his children’s friends.

He never wanted us children to suffer in any sort of way, but dad had always taught us in order to succeed or get to the top, we have to go through the hardest battles and struggle to understand the meaning of success. He did everything he could to help us children get the best education we could get. He was a great listener, and as most girls would be able to talk to their mothers about their girl problems, myself and my sisters would have the girl chats with dad.

My father was the type of guy that loved his family dearly and especially his wife, my mother. Watching my parents live together was a pleasurable moment I will treasure forever. Throughout the 29 years of their marriage, dad has been faithful to my mother and has respected her for who she is. He’s loved her endlessly and has been there for my mother throughout the good and bad times. He’s even earned the love and respect from my mother’s family and has been doing his duty as for being there for them when needed.

My father was the kind of guy that was honest and conservative and when something would bother him big or small, he made sure that it was fairly corrected and everything was done the right way. He was a hardworking man and the plantation outside our house was proof of what type of person dad was towards the family. He was committed to his family and he always put us first before himself.

Sense of Humour:

Siaki Jr Sanalio at his dad's memorial headstone
Siaki Jr Sanalio at his dad’s memorial headstone

Dad also had a funny side. He would always tell jokes and make fun of my mother just to make us laugh, which of course was always funny to watch. He taught us big and small things like playing Tongan card games, singing and speaking in the Tongan language, understanding the concept of the Tongan culture and the most important thing he would constantly remind us all was our faith. My father comes from a strong catholic background and growing up in that religion has shown me ways of connecting with my spiritual side. This was important as making the sign of the cross after you wake up and doing the same before you go to bed, and not to forget during meal times and whenever you need help the most.

I am thankful that dad had done what he could do to help us all when he could and not once did he complain about us failing when we had. He just carried on and encouraged us not to give up. On Jan 2012, dad was taken to hospital again but this time the visit was not like other regular check-up. This is when the news broke to us all and we had not been prepared for this moment as this time all we could think of was trying to spend as much time with our dad. Throughout the year, dad slowly started to lose his memory and was asking for random things such as food and people.

At first, this was very unusual for us because we had not experience this before but then when the doctors had appointed this to us and explained the circumstance dad was in this was when we had realised that we were going to lose our Dad. For our family to hear this kind of news we had to think about dad and the time we had with him. As hard as it was for us to watch him go through this, our family stuck together and made sure that dad was still getting some of the things he would ask for. No doubt, there were times when mum would get frustrated because it was hard work and it did take a lot of commitment.

The unexpected call:

But because we knew how dad was really committed to his family, this was something we could do for our dad for all the commitment and love he had done for us. September 23rd 2012 Sunday night dad and I have a conversation on the phone. Every week we will talk about school and dad would always ask me how it went and whether I was okay where I was. The last thing dad said to me was to remember his coconut which I had promised that I would give to him and that he loved me and had wished me goodnight. September 24th 2012, Monday morning was the day I felt my heart stop for a few seconds as my sister made an unexpected call. This was something I was not expecting but the tone on her voice made me breakdown and knowing that I had to go back home was to farewell my best friend, my protector, my problem solver and the person I call my Daddy was taken from this world.

Sesilia Fisi'i'one Sanalio, saying farewell to her dad
Sesilia Fisi’i’one Sanalio, saying farewell to her dad

Words cannot explain the pain my family and I had felt during this moment but the person that had brought our family together had physically been taken away from us in this world. Sharing this moment with my family and myself has made me recognise the impact dad has had on all of us. The day we had dad’s wakening, was the day we all distinguished the love and respect his friends and families had for our father. Dad’s send-off was beautiful as our youth boys from St Pius X Parish performed a Māori Haka in tribute for our dad. Feb 16th marks the first day we had to celebrate dad’s birthday without him. The decision of not leaving it to the one year was discussed with us immediate family together.

As proven we chose Feb 16th because it was also the day our dad was born, so we wanted to do it on this particular day. Not only was this emotional, but it was a day we were able to celebrate the life our dad had with us and to reminisce over the good memories we had with our Father. The headstone was picked out by his children and the symbol of the bible was significance because it was something we had learned from our Father growing up.

We sadly miss you DAD and YOU will always be treasured in our hearts forever. We love you DAD

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