Today is the birthday of Tatang, so fondly missed and lovingly remembered. I always think about him whenever I read the story of Joseph.
Like Joseph, Tatang was a carpenter. That makes me a carpenter’s son. He spent his life teaching his craft to thousands of young men from Pampanga. He came from a family of farmers and was of peasant stock; so he also had spent time working the fields. I would grow up to spend many years as a teacher too and pursuing multiple careers, like my father did. He was carpenter, farmer and teacher. I was teacher, salesman, marketer, consultant and executive.
Like Joseph, he was a man of few words. Ima was the lively and bubbly one. Tatang was reserved and charmingly shy. He had a facility with words though, a trait I got from him. But his body language was very expressive. You can feel his joy and happiness by the radiance on his face during such moments. You can tell when he is sad or even very mad by watching his actions and his demeanor. Oh, but when he is very happy, a can be very loud too and mischievously playful – like me.
He would rather keep his troubles and problems to himself rather than talk about them – like Joseph. He would brood and be more quiet than his usual. Sometimes, it would take just a short time for his foul mood to pass away. There are times though it would linger for days. And it was not a happy time at home. One of my poignant memories with him was when he shared how painful it is for him that he could not provide for everything that we needed. We did not have much growing up but everything we needed we had: nutritious food, decent clothes, a comfortable house, good education and mostly of all unconditional love and endless caring. No frills but there were a lot of thrills. I knew what Tatang meant was that he wished he could have given us more.
He dreamt a lot. He was the first and the only one among his siblings to go to college. He would inspire and help finance nephews and nieces to go to college themselves. He dreamed of how he could make and do things differently. He left home and ventured out. As I have left home and ventured. As my son have left home and ventured out. I dreamt of the impossible and what I attained has been even more amazing than my wildest dreams. And I am gladdened when I see my sons dreaming their own dreams and pursuing them with vigor and main.
Joseph. Tatang. I. Fathers. Dreamers. Being a father is not easy. But nothing can be more rewarding than being the means by which new life is brought into this world. And nothing is ore fulfilling than being an instrument in the unfolding of another dream in this world.
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.