Last week was Father’s Day. And I was thinking about mine, Tatang.
As I am approaching the age at which he passed away, I think about him a lot these days.
There are many questions I would have loved to ask him while he was still alive:
What were his fondest dreams?
What excited him the most in his career?
Who inspired him to achieve what he had achieved in his life?
What values drove him to excel?
The very questions I have sought answers for throughout my life.
What a conversation we would have had!
What a joy it would have been for me to hear his answers to my questions.
And yet, if we were to meet each other today;
there would probably no need for words.
The drive to excel and to become better each day is something planted deep inside me.
And I got that from Tatang, who was the first in their family to ever go to college.
He had a little bit more than many people,
but there were also many people who had more than he did.
Yet, the idea of sharing and giving was always part and parcel of his life.
He encouraged and was an inspiration to his nephews and nieces (He married late.) to get themselves an education.
Yes, when we meet again, there will be no need for words between Tatang and me
for he knows my heart and I know his.
But there will be plenty of words for us to relive shared moments and stories.
His fun-loving ways and gift for banter must have been
where I got my bent for punny jokes.
He does not often break into loud laughter like I do;
but he has that patented mischievous smile that is uniquely his
and tells you that he is playing a trick on you.
In the face of difficulties, he can be very stoic
to the pointing of just swallowing everything
– bitterness, pain and all –
rather than let on to what he is going through.
I know his heart.
And today, I understand his silences.
And today, as the day ends on my birthday,
I am aglow and basking in the warmth of the love and affection
shown by my loved ones, my family and my friends.
I loved hearing and reading the words of your greetings.
In many instances, the care and friendship were expressed
in more ways than just words.
It felt that there were strings that tied and bound me to all who greeted me.
And the strings were vibrating with the experiences and the moments
we have shared together.
And the vibrations are producing a beautiful melody.
There were colleagues at work who have become fast friends
with whom I have fought and won battles.
There were former students who are now more like peers
sharing dreams and achievements with me
and them telling that some of these were from me.
There were classmates who shared my formative years
and we have unconsciously helped form one another’s character and even destiny.
There were neighbors and random people who came into my life and chose to stay
because of the vibrations or music or dreams or stories that we shared.
Then, there are the loved one who have become
more precious and more treasured over the years
– not only because of the joys and the laughter,
but even more so because of the pains and the sorrow.
I have this scar of a wound that I thought would be the end of me.
But I survived it and became even stronger because you were in my life.
I have shed copious tears because I thought it was the end of the world for me.
But I survived it and became more gentle and understanding
because you were there to wipe the tears away.
I have moments when I would just break into a smile or even a guffaw
because I remember some of the good times I have shared with loved ones.
I have been many things to many people.
But the love and care that binds us all together is one and the same.
I am thankful for all that Tatang was to me for his love now abides in me.
I am thankful for all the people who have shown me their love today,
On my birthday, for your love have stirred
sympathetic vibrations of love in this old man’s heart.
If this be a foretaste of the love we will enjoy forever in heaven,
then I look forward to the future with hope and joy
for I know that the best is yet to come.