June 15, 2016 Catherine Mendoza 6Comment

 

Stories of loss and struggles

He passed away when I was 14. He had diabetes, according to the doctor, which we didn’t find out until he was admitted to the hospital. I can still clearly remember how we rushed him to the hospital that dark early morning at 5am and the bang of the train that passed by was the only thing I could hear. He collapsed on the floor of our small narrow flat, hit his head on the wall and couldn’t move. Since I was still a teenager back then, I couldn’t help him stand up so I ran to ask assistance from a neighbor, who’s luckily, my dad’s colleague. And then dad lost consciousness. We immediately rushed him to the hospital where the doctors and nurses directed him to the emergency room. “What should I do?” I restlessly yelped to myself. My hands and body were trembling and I could feel my blood running through my veins. “God, please don’t take my father away,” I uttered, repeating the prayer to myself over and over again while waiting for the doctors who were trying to save his life.

It’s father’s day. It’s been 14 years since dad had left the world and today, he’s most remembered.

dad

God was kind.

He let him live for three more days. My brother soon came and phoned mom. Mom and my eldest sister were massively devastated hearing the news and  then mom hurriedly took a bus from the province to Manila. It was a six-hour ride. During those days that he was laid on the ICU bed, he could scarcely open his eyes and speak a word. The first and last words I heard from him was “darling, don’t cry, I will be alright.” Tears. It broke my heart and I cried my eyes out like a baby, I gave him the tightest embrace I could ever give, watched him over the nights, barely got proper appetite and sleep, and wasn’t ready to let him go. Beside him was my mom, completely restless. All I was manifesting and hoping in my heart was dad would live longer, that I was ready to take care of him whatever happened even if that meant stopping school. I had unrelieved thoughts in my mind and I was bloated with sadness. I held dad’s hands on his last few hours without any thoughts that those hours would be the last moments that I would be holding his hands. I knew he tried to fight but at one point, he drew his one last breath. Grief. We were all grieving for losing the most tender-hearted person in the family.

 

Recoveries and reminiscing beautiful memories

It took us months to recover from our loss. We couldn’t contain the agony and pain of losing someone so lovable in the family. On those first weeks and months that dad was no longer walking on earth, we were all grief-stricken. There were moments when we all gathered in the balcony, talked, and reminisced about all of dad’s kind acts and endeavors for us. For getting up early in the morning to get us some hot “pandesal” (bread) and making a pure “barako” (strong) coffee, for preparing yummy cuisines whenever he’s at home, or for his occasional sleepovers at his friend’s house slightly gambling that never fizzled to annoy mom. Those nostalgic and magical moments would lead us to laugh over his silliness, yet behind our waves of laughter were sorrows of missing him.

Grieving was okay but moving on was strenuous. It was the toughest time in our family especially for my mom. The memories of him were timeless to us. We were in pain.

Yearly commemoration

We yearly commemorate the day of his death. We make sure to gather back home on this date even though each member of the family is living in distance. We all live separately. Mom lives alone at our house in the province. I knew mom had the deepest cut losing the only man in her life. We all did. And if I could wish for one thing, I would wish to have my dad back, at least, for a while. I want to spend more time with him. I want to hear his voice once again, feel his warm embrace, lay my head on his beer belly, and see him smile. Dad had grin like a Cheshire cat and laughed like a drain, and when he giggles, it’s contagious, his jokes were corny but humorous and he’s loved by everyone in our community and even at his work place. And those were being remembered on dad’s funeral days by the tons of people who grieved with us. Dad was showered with titanic love.

Childhood memories with him and his teachings

Though dad never had a favourite child among the five of us, in our childhood days, he never missed to surprise me and my little sister. He also wasn’t particularly religious but he taught us how to pray, every 6pm at the altar for thirty minutes, we kneel down and pray for our hopes and desires, pray the rosary and thank God for the day and for His blessings. He told us to wholeheartedly tell God whatever our heart desired. Dad was an angel sent from above! I saw and felt to every little chunk of my bones how dad loved us, he was there to lift us up, and even though I was juvenile back then, I knew he loved us more than anything else in the world.

His words of wisdom

He taught us how to live our life to the fullest, coming from an average family like most families, he always reminded us to be kind to everyone, to our friends, relatives, and even to strangers or people we’ve met along the way. “Never judge them,” he said, “you never know what they’ve been going through.” He also taught me some great piece of advice  – “Always avoid hurting other people’s feelings, people are sensitive.” In my life, I live by his words. It’s powerful. It always reminds me to be concerned of the people’s feelings around me, particularly to the people I love, and I will forever highly value that.

Dad’s life, work and my random short vacation with him

Dad lived far from us because of work. My family only got to spend time with him twice or three times a month. Though in my case, I was consistently the lucky one around with mom to visit him in the city and spend the vacation. That’s why vacation is one thing that I always looked forward to. Whenever I sensed my mom packing up her stuff, I would come closer to her like a puppy and excitedly appeal that I want to come and see dad. She would always initially decline but of course, who could ever resist a cute daughter’s plea? Eventually, I would always win. To boot, it’s from dad that I got this seemingly spoiled personality, partly because of the tons of little inexpensive things he would always buy me. Whenever I was spending a vacation with him, going to the small, packed market behind our area was one of our favourite activities. Dad usually comes back home at roughly half past five after his daytime job. He was a worker at a train station, PNR. It’s government-owned. PNR train is one of my most favorite means of transportation even though it’s old, slow and often crowded. It brings me back the old memories my dad and I had in the old days – of me out on the rail tracks playing under the heat of the sun while waiting for him during his break time. Afterwards, I would consistently request and plead him to buy me another Barbie doll which was very cheap but brought me bliss even though he had just bought me a new one the previous day. He couldn’t complain, if he ever did, it’s because he’s exhausted from that day. It had been a routine for us to cross the railways and play together, or to buy “arroz caldo” (rice porridge) from the canteen beside our flat. Dad was even the first person on the planet who let me taste liquor – gin, to be specific, and the one who permitted us to play card games during free time despite our mom constantly keeping us out of it. 

 

dad2
Our memories with dad danced with merriment.

 

Then I came to question life’s prejudiced

At some point in my life when I grew up, I thought that the world was cruel sometimes. I had randomly catechizing things over, eager to know the answers. Why did it happen? And I remembered the thing people always say, kind-hearted people live longer because they spread love and kindness to the world. But why? Why was he taken away so soon? And then eventually, I found the answers. That everything happens for a reason. Living your life without your father is a struggle. It makes a big difference. And that was real.

That’s the whole story, and we all moved on

And so, eventually we got back on our feet after dad’s death, like all families do after grieving and it was going fine. Our lives might have gone back to its normal rhythm as seasons passed, but his memories will beautifully remain in our hearts and minds forever.

On a serious note, my dad is my first love. A daughter’s first love. The man I humbly look up to. My real-time superhero.

Love your dad as much as you could

All dads in the world, I believe, are amazing, wonderful and the best supporter in every little thing and some of biggest life decisions that we make. They’re always there, that sometimes if moms can’t, run to your dads. They’ll never fail you. They do the best they can to make us – their children – happy, to make us feel comfortable and to guide us to be on the right track in life. They teach us not only of worthy things but also the priceless lessons in life, the ones that we can live by, the ones that we can benefit from for the rest of our lives. They sacrifice and they love much. You’ll never know when they’re leaving. You’ll never be prepared for that and if you ever will, the pain is a battle. And you’re lucky if you still have him in your side.  And I can tell you, your dad is the most wonderful man alive. Love him like there’s no tomorrow.

“Today, you are remembered dad, and you will always be. Wish you were still here. Happy father’s day! “

 

Thanks for reading! Happy father’s day to all! Xx