“Son, you are always with me.” Tatang never said these words to me but they could very well be his own. Everyday, I pray to and for him and Ima. They are always with me.

Tatang came from a family of farmers. Among his siblings, he was the only one who went to school. Somehow, he realized that in education, there was liberation, freedom. He inspired several of his nephews and nieces to follow in his footsteps, with some of them becoming teachers just like he was. As a teacher, he taught and trained many students in building construction that would make Pampanga famous for skillful carpenters.

Tatang had a naughty sense of humor. He loved playing pranks on other people. His laughter was crisp and his smile, naughtily impish. He loved to cook and his dishes were often reserved for special occasions. Or rather, an ordinary dish becomes a special one when he is the one who prepares it and the meal is a special occasion.

Tatang was a very positive person. He had beautiful dreams for all of us his children. In his quiet and simple ways, he worked and inspired us to work and achieve our dreams. He would rather keep quiet than speak a discouraging word. In fact, he would rather keep the negatives to himself. There were days he would mope and brood and we knew there was something bad bothering him. Then, he would just explode and it would take a few more days before he is back to his normal jolly self.

Tatang was a success probably beyond his fondest hopes. It was a long way from the farm hut he grew up in to the bungalow he eventually built for us, his family. He became one of the administrators of the government school he was teaching in and I could always feel that certain quiet glow of pride in his achievements. He was never one to boast with bluster about his success though.

No, I do not miss my Tatang. As I look back at my growing up years with his encouraging presence, as I looks back at my own years of raising up my three sons, as I now enjoy helping nurture and take care of my grandchildren, I realize Tatang has never left me. I realize the things I like most about myself, I got from him. The things I wish to correct in myself must be the same things he wanted to correct in himself. My dreams, my humor, my accomplishments are all rooted in the nurturing and caring and love I got from him. He is still very much with me to this day.

The Lord is kind and merciful.
~ Psalm 103
Then the father said to him,
“Son, you are always with me,
and all that is mine is yours.
But we had to celebrate and rejoice,
because this brother of yours was dead
and has come to life;
he was lost and has been found.”
Luke 15:31-32
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