Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Permanent 'Boyfriend'

As I have mentioned in my first post, I am an only child. But that didn't earn me the title of "favorite daughter". How could that be, when in fact there is no other choice but me?

Well, I do believe my parents really love me, but my father was a disciplinarian to the bone. There are rules and regulations in the house which I am obliged to follow. Note that I am using present tense here. It's because first and foremost, I am still the only daughter of my parents. My role as mother (and father) to my two children come only second while my role as "mother" to my father comes almost simultaneously with the second (or is it the first???) I get confused just thinking about it. I am often teased that I have 3 children. My eldest is 82 followed by 9 and 7.

Anyway, let me just describe my father. Father's Day is almost here and it is but fitting and proper to devote one particular post for him.

I am blessed with a prayerful father. He goes to mass everyday and is still very active as Extra Minister of the Holy Eucharist at his age of 82. He meets with his small group in the Charismatic Renewal every Saturday. He religiously spends 1 hour every Wednesday inside the Perpetual Adoration Chapel. He is the prayer warrior of the family. No question about that.

My father and I were inseparable partners during my younger years in Marbel, South Cotabato. He took me to his tennis games (I learned the value of money at an early age because I labored as "pulot girl" whenever I'm in the tennis court), bowling and billiard matches. Wherever he was, I was always with him. On some occasions that he should be accompanying my mother, he chose not to go with her because he didn't want me to be left in the house without one parent.

Since my mother was practically always out of town, I was left under the 'military rule' of my father. I learned to live independently because of him. I had to do things on my own like run errands, do the marketing, prepare and cook meals, do my homework, study for the exam, clean my room (and the whole house when our helpers suddenly get married), sort my closet, wash and iron my clothes, water our plants, mow our lawn, harvest our bananas and exchange them for detergents at Baes Store, take care of our dogs, cats, bats, turtle, pig, etc.

At the height of the civil war in Cotabato, my parents decided to enroll me in Manila for my own safety. I was barely 15 when I lived away from my parents but since I was properly trained by my father, I didn't give my room mates at Holy Spirit Dorm any head ache (I hope!) It was during this time that I experienced the first real tragedy of my life.

My idol, Bruce Lee, unexpectedly died on July 20, 1973 because of drug overdose. I was severely devastated. My father knew what I was going through. To show his sympathy, he sent me a social telegram saying: "My deepest condolences with the death of your idol, Bruce Lee." I couldn't believe my father would do such a loving gesture. I was totally shocked and ecstatic at the same time.

From then on, my room mates referred to him as my permanent 'boyfriend'.

I know my father loves me very much but he has never been expressive about it. I always tell him I love him but the only answer I would get is "Mhm . . .". He would be as hard as an acacia tree whenever I hug him and it's as if I kissed a blank wall when I kiss him.

After 49 years, I have come to realize that my father is not that demonstrative kind of guy. He doesn't verbalize his loving feelings and he's not at all affectionate. I just have to accept that or I'll be miserable for the rest of my life.

When I have finally learned to accept that my father would never change until the day he dies, God gave me a miracle on my 49th birthday.

Last June 6, the whole family attended the 6AM mass. After the mass, my father approached me, hugged and kissed me, saying "I love you. Happy birthday." I hugged and kissed him back and told him "Thank you, Itay. I love you."

What I felt after that incident is indescribable. I felt like I was a young child receiving a toy that I longed for a long, long time. Or I've seen a dearest friend whom I have terribly missed. I was so happy I felt like eating at Dad's Ultimate Buffet (we actually ate dinner there that day. We couldn't have lunch together because my mother was only available to be with us after 6PM. Although my father did not go out with us anymore, I was too happy to be sad. I knew he was already tired and needed to sleep early.)

To all the fathers reading this blog:

Hug your children.
Kiss your children.
Tell them you love them.
Be faithful to their mother.