[He’s definitely not a Jedi Knight in Star Wars’ Rogue One, not even a major character in the Star Wars saga, but Chirrut Imwe a.k.a Donnie Yen reminds me a lot of my dad, so I’ve chosen to use their pics here side-by-side, hope you don’t mind. Now everytime I see him in a movie, I remember Dad when he was young, healthy and happy. Love you Dad. ]
BACK STORY. What every OFW (overseas Filipino worker) dreads turned into reality for me this year, missing my dad’s last few days before he died late August.
I will never be able to take his precious long walks with him again, talk to him about yesterday and yesteryear, the greatness of the 1930s, the 1940s and 1950s. I will never hear his caramel-sweet singing voice again, singing Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble.
But I have memories, that much I have. It’s the first Christmas I won’t get to call him, or even imagine him and Mom having a bit of holiday cheer. Like many semi-orphaned baby boomers, I took for granted their presence in my life and never contemplated a life without them.
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The last year of his life my father was a shell of his articulate, vibrant self. His long, entertaining discussions and arguments with anyone had been reduced into one-sentence soliloquies and a couple of words that passed for replies and comments.
Even his precious walks and strolls were now almost completely gone, and his visits to the hospital due to kidney issues were becoming more frequent.
On the odd good day though he could still gather enough energy to get up at 6 am, ask his faithful alalay-cum-driver Val to accompany him to McDo U.N. Ave for breakfast and walk with him around the Luneta Oval. (How I wish I could’ve been home to be there with him even a couple times!)
He would ask to talk on Skype to his great grandson Theo and ask about the lives of his grandkids. Mom would marvel at his energy level, and struggle to keep up with him. But those days were few and far between.
But I’m not here with you to talk about Dad’s last days. I want to tell you more about the person he was the majority of his life.
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Balance in the universe. He wasn’t an overly religious man, but he believed there was a balance in the universe, not so much good vs evil but more like positive negative or action reaction sort of thing. He was a firm believer in karma, not upsetting the natural course of things and letting things be.
Wisdom. He believed in the power of words, words to praise just as much as words to hurt. Often he would choose his words, pause between phrases, and be careful not to hurt anyone with blunt or undiplomatic talk. He wasn’t the wisest man ever, but he was an avid reader. He could discuss with you Confucian philosophy or the latest political thriller, and everything in between. It wasn’t his intention, but in his late years he became a sage ageless man. He was my Yoda.
Mind-bender. He had his own version of the Jedi mind-trick, albeit with me, his naive, adoring son. Whenever he wanted to sway me to his way of thinking, he wouldn’t cut me off in mid-sentence or argue with me, he seldom did that. Instead he would ask me leading questions like “how about looking at it this way?” or “Have you thought about doing it B, instead of A?” He would never use threats or humiliation, and in the end, without realizing it, I would often be convinced that his was the better way.
He wasn’t a superhero, the richest man in the world, or even the most successful. But my father was certainly a remarkable man. In his own reality, time and place, he was the Jedi knight of my life. Being a Jedi is one of many things I can call him, but it is one of my favorites.
Missing you this Christmas, Dad.