Birthday's over but nothing has changed. I only got a year older and that was it. Monday was one of the saddest birthdays I had. It started ok but didn't end well. Sorry, but I won't be blathering about that here. Today is my dad's death anniversary. And I want to use this small piece of cyberspace to write about him.
"June 17, 2004, Thursday. Around 8pm. My father died, but I didn't cry a single tear. In fact, I was quite relieved that my dad's suffering finally ended. My heart wasn't hurting at all, but my mind was not at peace. I didn't know what to do. I could not even pray calmly. Yes...I wasn't hurting, but my mind was lost. Or maybe I was hurting, but I was more relieved than hurt. My mom and all my sisters, except the eldest who was on her way home from work in Makati, were around my dad when he took his last breath. I was sitting on the sofa. Only a thin wall was separating my parent's room and the living room. I heard my sisters and my mom talking to my dad. I'm sure they were talking to him, but their voices weren't clear, like they were crying. They were whispering to my dad, until I heard my mom. Yes she was crying. And suddenly, her crying got louder. At that very moment I knew that my father was gone. I felt my mother's pain. But I didn't cry a single tear."
I'm the fourth child, and the only boy in the family. I can say I was my dad's favourite. My mom and sisters told me many times about how my dad was jumping in joy when I was born. I can say I was a daddy's boy... taking me with him wherever he does his sideline jobs on weekends. He knew a lot of things, and was a perfect handyman. One of the things he was best at is fixing car computer boxes, which, when I was 9 or 10, were nothing more than a green metal board with miniature buildings perfectly portrayed by capacitors and resistors soldered to it. Later I found out my dad was making around 10K pesos in every computer box fixed. Now I wish I know how to do it.
At age 10, I started to learn to drive... on my own. During that time, my father was teaching my other sister, who was 7yrs older than myself, to drive. I envied her because she was allowed to drive around the neighborhood. Well, my father also taught me the basics. He taught me how to start the engine, how to switch gears, and how to step on the clutch and the accelerator with control, but he only allowed me to drive the car forward and backward. I wanted to learn more but he said I was too young for serious driving lesson. He said he'd teach me more when I'm older. There was a basketball court outside our house where I can do more than just forward and backward driving, I thought. So being the very impatient and hard-headed me, I took the car keys one day, while he was busy doing something inside the house, and drove the car. I was very excited, and was determined to make history, and make my father proud. I wanted to surprise them. And yes, I did make history. On my first solo-driving attempt, I forgot to switch the gear to neutral and excitedly stepped on the accelerator and hit the clutch sloppily. Then Bang! I hit the washing machine that was standing a few feet away in front of the car. I froze. I didn't know what to do. I knew right there and then I got myself in a big trouble. I thought of restarting the engine to drive the car back to its original place but I was moved by another bang. It was my father. He hit the roof of the car and opened the door angrily and pulled me out by my arm. "Ang tigas ng ulo mo!" - then he hit me on my butt harder than he ever did. I knew I was wrong, and I understood I did something terribly stupid. I was so afraid to say a word, so I just ran back inside the house crying. And that was the end of my driving lesson. I wasn't even able to take the car outside the garage. He never let me hold the wheel after that.
from Remembering Dad (posted on June 17, 2009)
My dad was always with me when I needed him, even in times when I didn't. My father had so many expectations on me, being his only son. He was a perfect handyman, and he wanted me to be like him. He never told me that, but I felt and I knew that's what he and my mom wanted. He didn't do it for a living though. For him, fixing and rebuilding things was a hobby. His hands were very creative. In highschool, I learned to fix electric fan and flat iron, not because I wanted to, but I was told to do so. He said it is important for me to learn such things, especially that I am the man in the family. I felt pressured. I felt even more pressured because my older sister was better than me in fixing things. She had patience, and passion in troubleshooting things...which I didn't have. Everything, for me, was a drag... a big pain in the ass. There was even a time when I wished he'd leave me alone and just let me do what I want. And when I was starting my fourth year in college, he was diagnosed with cancer and was told he only had 6 months left to live. It was the saddest news I heard. Before that, I was thinking it would be liberating to know the time you have left on earth to work on. But after I heard about my father's condition, I realized it wasn't. I hate being told what to do, more so hearing people defining my own life. But being told I only have this amount of time to live is something I never want to hear.
"I didn't cry when Tatay died. But when he was brought to the cemetery, when we had our last chance to see his face before his casket was closed, while he was being put down, I saw myself crying like I never did... because I knew it was the last time we will ever see him... and he's not coming back."
Maybe I'd be better in making choices in life, and maybe my life would be different if he was still here giving me parental guidance. I used to be better with people. I used to be better with myself. But things are different now. I miss Tatay.