Elaine Manulelia has asked parents in Samoa to cherish and value their children.
She is the mother of 17-year-old Orlando Paulo Manulelia, who was killed in a recent car crash at Saleufi.
Fighting back tears after farewelling her son at the Lepea Catholic Parish on Saturday, Elaine urged parents to take action and value every moment with their children.
“They (children) give meaning to our lives and in hardships they are our source of strength to work hard. From my experience, don’t give the cars to your children to drive, especially the age that Orlando was in before he passed away,” she said.
“Now that I think about it, I was also at fault by telling him to run my small errands such as going to the shop. There was a time when he would say ‘you just told me to go to the shop and now you have banned me from driving the car’.
“Every time he would drive the car to the shop or wherever, I would always advise him to be careful and to be home as soon after he is done with what he was supposed to do.
“He would always say mum don’t worry nothing is going to happen I know how to drive. I would strongly advise parents please don’t allow your children to drive the car. Even when they just say oh I will just go to the shop then I would be back soon,” she added.
As a parent, she is advising all young drivers to be safe on the roads.
But the mother-child relationship is a two-way thing with the grieving mother urging children to listen to their parents, especially mothers who suffer the most when something tragic happens to their children, like in Orlando’s case.
“Every night when I come from the shop and Orlando is not home and it is already passed 10, I would call him to see where he is and for him to come home.
“The minute when Orlando just walked into the house that is the only time I could go to sleep. Then during the following day I would then tell Orlando ‘stop doing this because you are away during the night and I would not be able to sit still worrying about you and the other thing I come home late from work and then wait for you until you come home.”
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, she said that she would watch all her children grow up and be successful in life.
“We went together on Friday and Sunday he passed away. So he teased me and drove fast, that day I told him ‘Orlando don’t do that do, I want you to be buried before you not the other way around. I want you to take care of me when I get old’. Orlando has left before me.
“God gives and he takes away. But with everything I am thankful that I was able to spend 16 years with him. This has been such a different year for me and my relationship with my son, not knowing that he would leave me behind,” she said.
“Today (Saturday) as we buried him, we did everything that we could because it is the day we would be celebrating his 21st birthday and also his wedding day, so we dressed him really well.”
Elaine said she would really miss her son and the relationship they shared.
“It is just so hard for me to forget about my son, I really miss him and the way he has loved and adored me. All the memories of when I would drop him off to school. If there is anything that would also happen at school he would come to me instead of going to his father.
“Every day after school he would come and see me after school at the shop, we would just talk about his day. As I think now of the times he would get into trouble from school he would tell me, ‘mum don’t listen to the teacher, whatever they are going to tell you it is a lie’,” she laughed.
“Orlando has always been a child who was eager to always go to the early mass; this has always been his routine, to wake me up to go to the 7am mass. I was not so keen to attend the early mass because I am just tired from work. He would always wake me up.
“The way he treated me was something that I could never explain, the way he was and the things that he did. He would ask ‘mum where is your outfit for church I will iron it for you’. He acted like a girl with the way he was.
“If I was the reason we were late to church he would tease me and say ‘regardless of how much makeup you put on you are already old’. We would just laugh and go to church together. Even on Mother’s Day, he would bother his father to treat me whether it would be to go to a hair salon and buy me an outfit for church.”
Elaine acknowledged the help and the support of all Orlando’s family and friends.
He laid to rest at Se’ese’e on Saturday.