[ He’s very very much alive and in the pink of health, but on such an exalted age (78) and in full possession of all his physical and mental faculties, we thought it timely to pay tribute to his precious attributes. ]
Dear batchmates, friends, brothers and Dad :
IT”S PROBABLY one of life’s enduring injustices: compared to what Mothers do that define their motherhood — growing us in their wombs for 40 weeks, suckling us till we are weaned from both breast and maternal warmth, and stressing themselves to death over our physical, professional and emotional development for the next three decades — Fathers do precious little to claim authorship of their children.
Instead, they spend a lifetime bonding with us, showing us 360 degrees of the beauty and majesty of life, inspiring us to make every experience even better than anything they ever did, convincing us that we were brought into this world to enjoy every pleasure, feel (at least once) every pain and navigate through the highs and lows made possible by every sensory appendage God provided.
In short, while our moms make a vocation out of loving us, our dads dedicate their lives to making us feel loved.
On a personal aside, it was/is a defining element of my father’s character that he didn’t have to say much to show that he loved me. From babyhood, just by looking at his eyes and smile, I could tell that he was very fond of me.
Fast forward to the present though, the sad part is that I never reached any of the lofty heights that Dad pointed out to me. I never became the intellectual giant that he was sure I would become. And I never attained the pinnacle of financial success that he all but assured me was my destiny.
It would not be a stretch to say that among his sons I was probably his favorite, but I was likewise the most spectacular of his disappointments. It’s not a pleasant thing to bring up as I remember him on his birthday, but I can’t sacrifice truth on even the most felicitous of occasions.
He considered me the most talented, adaptive, articulate and potential – laden among his brood. I proved him correct in only the last attribute. But to this day he has kept the faith. Against the sighs, what-could-have-beens and thinly concealed references to his underachieving spawn, he continues to smile his knowing smile.
On the eve of my unlikely adventure into migration – cum – nomadism, when I awkwardly sought to magically transform my visit (tourist) visa into a work permit, my father clasped my hand tightly. He, like the rest of my immediate family, was leaving NZ the next day, leaving me all alone in a brave new world (except for my helpful bro George who had been here 15 years running).
It was a Freaky-Friday drama for an odd couple : it was Dad’s eyes that were naively full of hope for me, while mine were tired and jaded.
Come back prosperous… come back proud… do it for your children.
I looked at him dumbfounded and disoriented, but not without amusement. It was as if the last three decades of underachievement and disappointment hadn’t taken place. His faith had never wavered and was intent to see me through to success as his brightest hope, despite the fact that among his sons were a COO, a doctor and a businessman abroad.
However others saw his yet-unproven son, his version of destiny had at least half a lifetime of secrets to offer me.
For the millionth time I bowed my head, in shame as well as respect for this man who so loved me, thanked him silently for refusing to dispose of his hopes in me, and asked for his blessing.
** ** ** ** **
On the morning of his birthday, he is probably walking the aisles in Paco Market, selecting his favorite coffee beans to entertain his friends with. In a while, he will be teaching catechism to newcomers to the faith.
Later in the day, he will be singing his favorite opera pieces (his one vice) to the captive audience, the pet dog, and still later on will be playing peso-ante poker with my mom.
At least once during the day, he will be thinking of each of his five sons, and odds are even, especially if there’s a twinkle in his eye, he’ll be thinking most of me.
Happy 78th birthday Daddy. You deserve all the love in the world.
- Idiot forgot her mom’s birthday. Now what? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: From the Only (beliefnet.com)
- Rod Stewart ‘Cool’ with Being an Older Dad (celebritybabies.people.com)