I had put off writing this post for as long as I could. I had written a post in honor of my Dad in the earliest days of this blog which I erased a year after because I thought it was too revealing and sentimental. But my father has always played a huge part in my life so before this month that commemorates Father’s Day ends, I just have to pay tribute to the man who has given me a lot and has done so much for me. I kept on postponing penning this post for fear of the emotions that might get evoked in the process. Fearful of a few certain feelings that could flood the heart and afflict my soul, carrying me to places I’ve repeatedly walked away from in recent times. Writing about my Dad has always been difficult because it easily brings a profusion of unrestrained emotional upheaval that pegs me in various degrees of heartaches.
Getting away could be my escape from painful reality indeed. That is, burying myself in work, writing, reading and other activities to preoccupy my mind that I won’t have time to think about things I’ve no more control over. There’ll come a time when all you ever want is to try harder to focus on the good things that have remained in your life.
This is the man who continues to hold tether to my heart. The man I have loved for as long as I could remember. No person has had as much influence in my life as my father. With an unstinting regard for his compelling temperament, I’ve been in awe of this once mighty man who held the reins of our household in the most authoritarian manner. Shrewd in business and always on the go, he enjoys being around people. I was aware too how others have always been in awe when around him. Strong, disciplined, intelligent, street smart, astute, extrovert, loquacious. No question remains unanswered. Even during his prolonged illness, he’d find ways to be productive. I watched him continuously keep his mind and his hands busy despite the handicaps brought about by the stroke. His strength of character has infused my spirit. The inspiration I’ve consistently drawn from his presence in my life has helped given me wholeness in my individuality throughout.
I was 7 years old when one night I started running a fever at 40 degrees and was certain I was going to die. My mother cried and called up my father in the middle of the night at his first family’s house and even talked to his legal wife. She then assured me my father was on his way. Soon after, I started to feel much better.
I was already a teenager when I had to be rushed to the hospital for severe endometrial pain. I was lying in the emergency bed surrounded by four worried hospital staff when my father arrived. Like magic the pain started to subside, something that consequently baffled even the attending doctors.
Watching movies with him was our bonding time. So was removing his shoes and socks after a long hard day at work which had always felt like a privilege for me. It could have been the most I had done for him.
As with the majority of men, money has consistently played a colossal force in his existence and serenity. I have often wondered, what if my father had allowed more ethereal matters and wonderful intangibles to enter his heart and mind. He could have been a lovelier man for sure. A much much lovelier man.
His long, arduous downfall began when he suffered a stroke more than twenty years ago. He tried his best to defy death and did everything to hold on for as long as he could. I’ve never seen such a fighter in my whole life. But it’s also clear I’ve been losing him little by little as time wears by. It’s been a long goodbye indeed.
Now solely confined to his bed, helplessly frail and feeling very weak. “Are you in any kind of pain?” A question I’ve repeatedly ask every time I see him.
“No..” he’d mildly answer. I sometimes wonder if he says that just so I wouldn’t have to worry. He never would want to be a burden to anyone.
He has known of my undeniable reverence for him. I wonder if he ever somehow reveled in that. He loves me. I barely questioned his affection for me as one of his daughters. But I also know he loved his other children more. Our major fall out years ago was instigated by his outward display of preference for his favorite granddaughter. I thought that was unfair. I have already endured enough of his predilection for “favoritism” when I was a young girl. Why does my son have to suffer the same fate?
But as I’ve said before, he had been my rock in my budding years. No matter what, I love my father to the core and have never stopped being proud of him. On occasions I still catch myself saying to my son. “Oh, if you only knew what your grandfather was like in his heydey.”
I still remember amusingly this one time when a certain guy was pondering about a business concern. I thought about how my father would have responded to the same circumstances which got me started with “Well, my father would..”
“There you go again about your Dad.” He quickly interrupted. “It’s always been your Dad is great, great, great..” I stopped cold. It really didn’t occur to me my devotion to my father had at times inadvertently gotten in the way of my relationships with men. But no, my father is not that great, great, great. While there’s so much to admire about him, he’s had his flaws and weaknesses. He’s only human after all. For one, I have never understood his infidelities. It’s just something people close to him have accepted as his way of life. I sadly witnessed how it rubbed off on my brother and how the women in his life suffered.
Surprisingly, I’m the daughter he talks highly of now. He says he still remembers the times when I would rush anywhere to make sure I’d be there for him during his illness and hard times. Yes we’ve had our rough patches. Though as time passed by, I let the pieces fall to where they belong. I’ve unceasingly hoped sunlight would always shine around some corner for both of us.
My father was never the sweet type who’d openly show his affections for the people he cares about. But I still clearly remember a particular instance recently when it was time for me to go home. I kissed him on the forehead and told him I love him. Something I usually do before leaving. He never says anything in reply and I’ve gotten used to that.
But just when I reached the door I heard him simply mutter, “I love you too..”
I have known of only a few solid truths in my life destined to stay in my heart forever. My love for my father will be one of them. For always.
4 thoughts on “Father Dear”
This is another beautiful piece of writing, Marj. I admire your ability to face and expose the flaws, as well as the strengths. That combination is what makes us human, and unique. Still, it takes courage to relive certain memories, and it’s obvious that there are many bubbling just below the surface. Your father may have only recently learned to verbalize his love for you, but I’m sure he always felt it. Thank you for writing this.
This was one of the posts I had been meaning to write for so long but a few factors, mainly the emotions that might well up inside me deferred it from happening. Fortunately, I managed to compel myself to finally sit down and type my story above 2 days before June ended.
A favorite American icon who passed away October of last year put it beautifully as well when he said, “In the face of mortality, all expectations, pride, embarrassment or failure fall away leaving us with only the things that truly matter in our lives.”
I attest to the reality writing has been hard for me, but your unexpected and absolute support as a fellow blogger has propped me up to do all these to the best of my ability.
You are so brave to be so utterly honest about the good, the bad and the ugly! And might I add, you are such a powerful writer! I don’t have the father-daughter relationship like you have with yours, mine is completely different in so many ways, yet I could feel your bond as though it were my own, and found my eyes welled up when I read the line where he said, “I love you too..” Thank you for letting us into your heart.
Your lovely and heartfelt comment is quite uplifting.
I’ve never thought of myself as a powerful writer before which is actually one of my lifelong aspirations. Now that it has come from another competent writer like you, I savor the compliment in tip-top spirits.
I’ve had second thoughts about telling things as they are because of my apprehensions of being misunderstood or misjudged every now and then. But it always comes down to my narrating stories purely from my point of view or on how I experienced them which has been the aim of this blog in the first place.
I hope I’d also get the privilege of reading the stories residing in your heart someday soon even if they are different from mine. Thank you for taking the time to read and for your exquisite comment.