Letter no. 6: A Father’s Anecdote
How often do you express your love to someone you cherish most? They say that love of a family is the most selfless of all; a love that can stand the test of time. It is the same love which taught me that promises can yes be bent, but it can never be broken. Find out how a piece of paper broke my heart, mended me for once, and changed my life eventually.
Play this as you read.
June 17, 2012.
I got back home to Batangas again after several months of stay in Manila to spend a week vacation and to breathe from the tiring city worklife. How I missed the kisses of fresh air and welcoming greenfields along the way. Yes, I longed for the inviting trees and the beauty of seawaves flashing against the rocks; the typical perfect scene that would forever make me come home. But the most of course, the feeling of warmth with my Nanay (mom) and Tatay (dad) whom I only see once every month; my family who stood by me in my ups, downs and sideways.
When I was a kid, I was the apple of the eye in the family. (I am the only thorn among the roses.) Being the youngest of eight, I always got what I wanted. I was never treated selfishly when it comes to material things a normal child would wish to have. My mom is the most generous and loving mother I know. She is my hero. My dad is my second best. Whenever dad and I fought over my sexuality, my mom would always stay by my side. She would always lighten up my load. She’s a type of mom who would shed the first tears before his son does. She understands.
My dad is the strict type. He imposed a school-home life to me which somehow made me a better person. But he’s respected though despite his strong disposition, at least by my sisters. I was not really that closed to my father. We had a gap once when he learned that I am gay. I just promised him that I would never be prodigal son, like the biblical story we know. But when I got into college, I broke that promise. I welcomed rebel to my life. I set myself free. I never visited them for months or so. I graduated college, worked, earned for myself and rose above hate, got hurt, fallen, and discovered that love of the family is the most selfless of all; a love that can stand the test of time. So I forgave eventually and gained back the promise. I then realized that it was the same love which taught me that promises can yes be bent, but it can never be broken. I embraced the truth. For a son, being hated by a father was the most painful and heartbreaking fact that can never be erased. For a father, having a gay son was the saddest form of acceptance. That’s how I’d been seeing things then, not until I came home that one afternoon of June 17.
It was eight in the evening. I was putting my bags and clothes to my dad’s closet when I happened to stumble at box of old photographs of his and mom’s. I got a little bit curious so opened the box and picked up the photos one at a time. There were pictures of mom when she was a maiden, some wedding photos, and all other happy memories in fainted black and white. I reminisced the old days as I picked up the last piece of photo in the box that broke my heart. It was a photo of my dad carrying me with his right arm. It was his birthday during that time but I couldn’t remember exactly how old he was then. I was so little… like a year old and he was firmly holding me with a smile on his face. It was a perfect father-and-son memory. No hate could be seen, no worries, no grudge, just happiness… Old days rolled back as fast as tears rolled down my cheek too.
I missed those moments when he would stroll me in the field, bring me home the ripest guava from the farm and eat it with him afterwards, the largest bite wins. The photograph was taken June 17, 1988.
I looked at the back of the photograph and there I saw a note saying “With my son, Coco, taken during one of my happiest birthdays of my life, June 17, 1988. The day I spent time with my only son: my clone when I was little.”. My heart melt for a sudden, like there was something inside me that wanted to burst, mixed sadness and guilt.
There was a piece of paper attached to the photo. I untaped the letter, took a deep sigh and opened it finally. I was hesitant at first, but I went on.
My dad wrote:
June 19, 1988, 8:00PM
It’s two days after my birthday but I stil can’t get over the feeling. My wife has just gone out to town out with my two daughters to attend a birthday rite program of Jose Rizal, our national hero. I almost forgot that it’s his brirthday today. The city mayor always holds a celebration tribute in memory of our national hero. While many people were trending to town to watch the parade, I didn’t feel like going to. It’s not that I don’t care, I just wanted to be home, watch television or play guitar. It’s holiday and it’s Sunday anyway so it doesn’t make any difference. I just wanted to take a break from my busy week.
I cooked omelet with hotdog bits, prepared some juice, got some guava in the backyard, spread a carpet on the floor and turned on the television, waiting for the clock to say nine.
By 9:00AM, I woke up my little son, Coco. He was still half asleep. I carried him and tickled his tummy to keep him awake. His laughter is like a music to my ear. He has the cutest smile. He knew what day it was. His eyes went big as he saw his favorite guava sliced on the top of vegie omelet. We played our favorite game, the largest bite on the guava wins. He became totally awake and excited. He grabbed a bite, lied down in the carpet and gave me the warmest hug. We were alone in the house and all I wanted was for time to freeze. I squeezed him back tightly, gently tapped his back whispering I would look after him all day.
Having a son of my own, the feeling is really different. It’s like the greatest feeling of being a father, knowing that someday, I could pass on my surname to the world and let it seed till the last man on earth. I am the proudest daddy during that time.
And so we watched some cartoon flicks on tv while playing bubbles. I could see the happiness in his eyes. I played with him like I was a toddler too. We mimicked the story depicted on television. I played the role of the monkey monster and he was the tiger on the bush. It was fun. We didn’t care if we messed up the sala and left the furnitures disarrayed. All I wanted for him was to be happy on this day.
We played and played all the games that he knows.
After awhile, his eyes went red. He felt dizzy. I carried him once more, he embraced my neck as I lulled him to sleep. I swung him gently as he snored. That moment I was holding him was unexplainable, like something a father wouldn’t miss. And I took him down to his bed, nailed my eyes on his face for awhile and went back to the sala to clean the mess.
The indoor picnic with my son Coco is over and so is Rizal’s birthday. My day is almost over too. And right now, it’s eight in the evening. I have the most fulfilling day of the year. It’s June 19, 1988, Rizal’s birthday, Sunday, holiday, no-work day, family day and the day all father’s are remembered. I look at the mirror and greet myself…:
…Happy father’s day to me.”
I closed the letter and pondered.
The time dad got home. I looked straight into his eyes, smiled at him, approached him gradually and greet him a happy birthday and happy father’s day. Words came out from the bottom of heart. We hugged and I felt secured and loved like when I was a kid. It had been 23 years since that photograph was taken but the moment I reached him, I felt like one year old again. We bonded for the rest of the night, drank some beers and shared stories that were missed. That moment I wasn’t afraid to face life the next day.
I am working for a multi-national company, a boss of myself. I work to live. I visit them not just once but twice or thrice a month. I may not be the best son to him Michael. I may have failed him most of the times as much as failed myself more than that. But I am happy cause I know to myself that he loves me so much and he only wanted me to track the right path of life. It’s not just the surname that he wanted me to pass on, but its the value of family, a home, that he wanted me to come back to someday. And I owe him where I am now because he raised me well without any fear with the society. I maybe restricted and supressed at some point in my childhood but those prepared me be independent and let me gain from pain.
This letter is dedicated to you Tatay (dad), the man who will always be loved.
“It’s not just the surname that he wanted me to pass on, but its the value of family, a home, that he wanted me to come back to someday.”
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“How often do you express love to someone you cherish most?”
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Song titled: “Because of you” sung by Kelly Clarkson
Photo lifted from: http://mudwrestler.deviantart.com/art/Father-and-Son-78482288
Posted on July 12, 2012, in LETTERS 1-8, LIFE LETTERS and tagged 1988, Batangas, father, father and son, father's day, gay, Jose Rizal, June 19, note, photo, photograph, Sunday, warm hug, wedding. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.