Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fathers and Fatherhood

It'll be Fathers Day in a few days. In my lifetime, there are only a few dads I know who can be worthy of honoring on this day.

1. My Dad. My daddy passed away 22 years ago. He may not be the "talking" dad, but he made sure his family was given all the best his money can afford. My dad was the youngest in a brood of three. He was a little spoiled, being born more than 10 years after his brother. Growing up during World War II was not easy for him, but the family made it through. He grew up to be a doctor and found his niche working as a company physician for a large textile manufacturing firm.

My dad was not the "cuddle-hug-kiss" daddy. I never regretted it, since I knew he really wasn't that way. Once in a while, he would crack a joke during dinner time. Since it was one of those rare time, we really never forgot the joke. Our father-daughter activities when I was young was watching basketball games, picking fruit from the various fruit trees that we had in that huge backyard we had in our old ancestral house. We'd play scrabble or snakes and ladders, or whatever new board game he took fancy on. Once a month, we would go to a beach resort for an overnight R&R. Every Sunday after mass, we would have lunch at some fancy restaurant. Oh he hated it so much when McDonalds made its way to the Philippines. My sisters and brother preferred burgers and fries over buffet lunches. As much as he abhored fast food, he still gave in.

He made sure that me and my siblings got into the best Catholic exclusive schools. Although he didn't say it, I knew he was proud of us when we got awards for getting into the Top Ten students in class. I, being the eldest, was the "chosen one" by my dad to given the learning opportunity of handiwork. He taught me how to  change the washer in a busted faucet, he taught me how to replace the starter fuse when the light won't turn on. He gave me instructions on how to make small wooden stools from scrap wood and a few nails. My level up lessons were troubleshooting simple appliances, checking if the car needed an oil change, and how to make extension cords. Other lessons included what to do when the kitchen sink is clogged, and how to properly apply car wax. I guess he thought I was a boy. I still make use of these basic knowledge up to now.

His long battle with cancer was the worst days of my life. I was out of school then, being pregnant with my second child (Yes, he still sent me through school even after I got married and had kids). I was with him everyday, feeding, bathing, sitting with him while he watched TV. I took him to his doctors appointments, watched him cope with the horrors of chemotherapy, and made sure he took his medications. Mom wanted to stay home with dad, but she had to attend to their little cafeteria business to keep the family afloat.

His passing was hard on all of us. We were at his bedside at the MICU in the Philippine Heart Center for Asia. We saw him convulse and flat-lined. No more daddy. Screams and tears filled his room. We were devastated.

22 years after, I still think of him. I speak to him when I am sad, or tired, or just about to give up. I look back at how he lived his short life, how he made the most of what he had left.

I am lucky to have known this father.

2. My Poppa Bear. Doug is one awesome man. He is a person who is the epitome of unconditional love. He left his life in the United States to be with me.. in this miserable third world country in the far eastern corner of Asia. He accepted my flaws. He understood how broken I was coming off from a failed marriage. Doug helped me raise my kids. He straightened them up and guided them so they may grow into responsible adults.

When I get my moods, he just keeps quiet and makes me vent out my frustrations. I have never met any man who made me feel so loved. As chubby as I am, he never fails to tell me that I am so sexy. Exchanges of "I love you" is like breathing life into me. We may have cultural differences (a lot, actually) but he takes everything with a smile. He has raised a wonderful daughter, who lives in the United States. She is now a doting mother to a unbelievably beautiful 3 year old girl. Despite the distance, Doug never fails to email his daughter everyday, reminding her how much he loves her. They talk frequently through Skype and he is still the caring dad.. giving advice, reassuring his daughter of his love, exchanging jokes and everyday stories. Tangible proof that fatherhood transcends distance.

My Poppa bear helped me understand how difficult it can be to be a parent to my own three kids while they were going through the hormonal bursts of puberty and teenage years. Thankfully, I have made it through with lots of encouragement from Doug. I love this man dearly and all I ever dream of is to grow old with him. We can have our own "his and hers" walking sticks, and "his and hers" rocking chairs. We will watch sunsets together and wake up to the same sunrise. I will someday be all wrinkled and gray, get Alzheimer's or Senile Dementia, but one thing I will never forget - my love and admiration for this dad will never wane.

3. Father God. Need I say more? He is one Father who believes in me, has faith in me and always listens when I call out to Him. He never sees my flaws, He only sees my potential. He is patient, kind and forgiving. Like any other human father, He has given me my share of life lessons, not as punishment, but as a way for me to go back to His Ways. I have strayed from the path of righteousness for a significant number of times and I always end up "seeing the Light" in any adversity.

I have been blessed so much as to be born into a family who believes in the Holy Triune God. I know, in my heart, that my Father in Heaven is always looking out for me and holding my hand that I may one day join Him in His Kingdom. To give thanks for all the blessings He has given me, I have made a promise to myself that I will not put to waste the talents he has given me. That in my work, I will glorify His Holy Name.

Thank you, Father God, for the blessing of having Daddy and Douglas in my life. In them, You have made everyone know that Fatherhood is a vocation unlike any other.

Let me end this article with a common Filipino saying.. "It is easy to have a child, but it is never easy to be a father."

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL THE DADS, PAPAS, TATAYS, ITAYS, TATANGS, PADRES and whatever which way you want to call them.

I prefer to call them "LOVE."


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