This is a special message for my Papa on his 54th Birthday on May 16, 2011.
Lately, memories of the past kept flashing on my mind and reminded me of the times when I was still in Philippines and being with our family. The more vivid and detailed scenes were closely focused to you. Then, I realized you will be celebrating your special birthday and it is a good idea to put into writing my deeper and precious thoughts I hold for you in my heart. Somehow, expressing my feelings in this note would a wonderful gift that you will cherish for a lifetime.
In my childhood years, I used to think that I have a happy family although we have a simple kind of life. We lived in a small three bedroom house made of wood and “nipa” that you and mama have built with your pittance as government employees. Despite of life’s difficulties, we still manage to have small celebrations like birthday parties. On my 10th birthday, you told me to study harder because you will send me to a nice university to pursue my dream as a nurse. Indeed, it was a great encouragement that helped me pushed myself and excelled in my academics. I felt good every time my teacher posted the ranking students in class and listed my name among the top five. I was always excited to show my class card. Then, you simply gave me a pat on the shoulder and winked in the eye along with a treat for a family dinner at our favorite restaurant or giving me inexpensive toys. Among the three children, I am the one who was sickly, lean, and weak. Whenever I am not feeling well you usually cheered me up by buying my favorite hot pan de coco. I adore your support and encouragement. You made me feel that I can win the race and your inspiration and faith over me was all I need at times of depression.
But, we slowly drifted away from each other during my teenage years. I was ashamed to share to you the things that were happening to me, in school, at home and so I just kept it to myself or confined to my close friends instead. In the same manner, you tend to be quite and noticeably distant. At times, when we supposed to have a family day but you were out and away. So we were left behind bonding together. Sometimes you forgotten our birthdays unless mama would reminded you to stay with us and have a simple dinner at home.
Distance kept us apart when I went to study in a university not as a nurse but as an IT student. I selected this field because I was more influenced by my friends. Thinking always of mama, Ryan, and Ritchelle had empowered me to survive the stressful and demanding academic requirements of my college life. My dream is to get a better job to support our family. Luckily, the grades on subjects were excellent which allowed me to graduate with honor. I did my best so that you will be proud of me and be an inspiration to my brother and sister as well.
After college, I came back and worked in our hometown to be near and stay with you and mama. I shared a part of my income to help our finances. During pay day, I used to buy huge layers of pizza and pearl coolers at Greenwich to bring home and for all of us to indulge with. It was an ecstatic feeling looking at you and mama enjoying every bite. You love food a lot and whenever there were special occasions like Birthdays, Fiestas, Christmas, and New Year, I prepared sumptuous banquet to make the celebration even more exciting and extraordinary.
When you knew that Jesse and I decided to get married, you were silent and didn’t spoke any words for two weeks. I thought maybe because you would miss me as your little daughter that I would no longer be around and be far away from you to be with my own family. Likewise, the idea of getting married at an early age made you sad because you wanted me to work abroad and establish my career and my life. However, on my wedding day, you walked me in the aisle and my heart trembled as I gripped my hand around your arms. I could feel your strength that used to carry me when I was a child. And deep within, I know you still care for me. That care grew even deeper when Andrei was born. No wonder my son resembled a lot more to you – the shape of his face, his gestures, and his body built. You became affectionated and fond with Andrei every time he calls you “Dadalo”. My son preferred to stay in your bedroom while both of you were watching cartoons on the big TV (even if you hate cartoons a lot). This made Andrei so closed and attached to you.
In 2008, I was fortunate to have been offered a job in the Sultanate of Oman. I didn’t missed the opportunity because I want to help and support our family especially for you and mama. You’re no longer young to work harder thus your health was declining. Then in 2010, life handed into you the test of time, you were diagnosed with a heart valve disease and you need a major heart surgery. You were scared, troubled, and losing hope. But we, your family, were there to support and love you. With intense prayers and strong faith, the doctor finally told us that surgery was no longer needed but only effective and compelling medicines along with proper diet could somehow cure the illness and reciprocate your health. In return, I made an effort to continuously support your monthly medical maintenance just for stay alive and live longer.
That turning point in your life helped you change and gradually become more open, attach, and vocal. Mama told me that you were active with your social network and church involvements. In fact, our communication became constant and open. You regularly sent me text messages or sometimes you requested to have conservation online. These were the things that amazed me. And we were thankful to God for answering our prayers and made you into what you are now.
On your birthday Papa, I want to tell you that: it’s not too late to do all the things that you want to do and instill joy your heart; it’s not too late to love our family who continuously support and care for you unconditionally; it’s not too late to befriend and forgive your enemies; it’s not too late to thank God for all the blessings and gifts He has given; it’s not too late to appreciate the beauty and kindness of life; and most of all, it’s not too late to let you know how grateful I am of you being my Father and I have been VERY blessed by being one of your children. Furthermore, I want to thank you for your undivided attention and for treating me as your daughter and friend.
I love you papa always and forever!
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