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My 100th Hub: A Tribute to My Father
My 100th Hub I Dedicate to My Beloved Tatay
I have always wanted to write something about my late father (Tatay is Tagalog / Filipino for father). My desire to write something about him started last October, on the month of his birth. But somehow, I kept on getting sidetracked. It seemed like whenever I sit down and write about him, something always stopped me.
Now I know. I wasn’t meant to write a hub for him then. But now, as I think about what I will write for my 100th hub, the idea of writing this hub for him just wouldn’t go away. I started out writing an entirely different 100th hub but the feeling wasn’t right. That was when I knew that my 100th hub is meant for him, always meant for him.
My father has been dead for almost three years now. His 3rd death anniversary is four months away but it seemed like yesterday when he was still with us. Even after almost 36 months, I still feel some pain from losing him so soon. He died when he was 68, a ripe old age, but somehow, we always thought he’d always be with us. When he died, it was the hardest thing for all of us (my siblings and I) to accept. Even now, I sometimes would say “if Tatay is only alive…”. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accepted his death and moved on but then again, the pain has not subsided and I don’t think it ever will.
My Earliest Memories of Him
Some of my earliest memories of him are not exactly ‘memories’ but stories told to me over the years. I was the third child and daughter (we are four children in the family). After two older daughters, my parents wanted a boy and they honestly thought I was (I was very active in my mother’s womb). I was born three days before Tatay’s 37th birthday and even though I turned out to be a girl, that didn’t stop my Tatay from adoring me. He adored me so much that my older sister got jealous of me then. But it was obvious from the start that I was going to be a Daddy’s little girl (Tatay’s words, not mine).
Growing up, I identified a lot with my father. When I was still very young, I would often cry whenever somebody tells me I look my mother, and cheer whenever they tell me I look like my father. When he went for a trip to Manila, I came down with a fever and stayed in a hospital for one week (I was only a baby then). When Tatay came back, he immediately went to the hospital and stayed there. Surprisingly, after a week of continuous fever, I slept for 20 hours straight, only waking up to ask for milk, and recovered. My father never forgot about it and kept reminding me of it.
An Outgoing, Active Person
Tatay was a very outgoing person. He was a very active and
brave man. He moved to a new hometown when he got tired of living in Manila and established a
new life here. He spent 39 years of his life in the new
city and this ‘new city’,
in turn, adopted him. Being new didn’t stop him from establishing new friends
and new contacts. In fact, he’s credited
with establishing our local organization for accountants as well as rallying a
lot of accountants in Mindanao to form a more
cohesive organization. To this day, whenever I go to places here in Mindanao, there is always an accountant who remembers my
father. Even in Manila,
he’s a well-known figure in our organization. In his death,a lot of people mourned for him. In fact, to accommodate all of them, we held a 10 - day wake (much more than our average of 3 to 7 days), 5 here in Mindanao and 5 in his actual hometown and birthplace. And every night, the place where we held those wakes were filled by people who wanted to see him for the last time.
He was also an athlete. He used to play tennis and bowling. When he couldn’t play these sports anymore, he went to billiards. He is a very good card player, we never could beat him when it comes to cards. In fact, when we went to Manila, he would sometimes go to a casino and play black jack and poker. I don’t know if he ever lost, all I know was he always win and would come back with a wad of paper bills to show his winnings.
One of the things I always remember about him is his love for singing. He loves to sing songs, not the new ones, but the ones he grew up with. He can belt out Mario Lanza’s or Matt Monro’s songs (as his voice is like theirs, I’m not kidding). He’s not shy about his singing. In fact, he would gladly belt out a song whenever his friends asked him to sing one.
A Kind Person
Tatay is also known for being a kind, generous person. Whenever we needed money, we can always ask for some from him. His employees can go to him and ask for a loan and he would just wait for them to pay him back (interest-free at that). When we have all graduated from college, he took two scholars from a poor family and paid for their education. He gave to charities and foundations (I still receive some letters from them until now). He gave generously of himself, his time and his money (not that we had a lot of this) whenever he thinks any or all of these are needed.
An Intelligent Man
Academically, my father was not really an achiever. But he’s intelligent, no doubt about it. His favorite subject is Math (which would explain why he went to accounting). He can calculate Math equations by using only his mind. He knew about current events and he was very vocal about his opinions on politics, local or otherwise. He could talk with anybody and hold his place in a conversation. He was a very good accountant, and I’m not saying this because I’m his daughter.
He was also a very good, intelligent father. Sure, he would spank us but he often believed that talking to us was still the best. His words often made (and still do) sense. The way he explained them got all of us listening and following him. He never played favorites when it came down to discipline and to correcting us.
Diagnosed with Diabetes
My father was in his late 30’s when he was diagnosed with diabetes (it runs in our family). With his children still young then, being diagnosed with something that can potentially kill him might have frightened him. But Tatay was determined to live to see all of us finish our education. He disciplined himself, stopped drinking (he was never much of a drinker but he really cut down on his drinks), controlled his diet, went on a good exercise program and, generally, maintained good health. He religiously had his blood sugar taken and monitored. His diligence earned him three decades of life after his diagnosis.
How He Died
Up until now, I can’t believe how quickly my father was taken from us. In September 2006, he was diagnosed with a lump in his liver. We (including the doctors) all thought it was cancerous but my father never engaged in chemotherapy or surgery or anything like that. Instead, he turned to natural medicines, in the hopes of controlling his blood sugar and blood pressure, enough to have that surgery. May 2007, he was getting ready for that surgery and he went to Manila to be with us (just in case something happened to him later on). He stayed with us for two weeks and all that time, we never noticed anything strange with him. He lost a lot of weight and his skin was already very soft but he still maintained his optimism.
Little did we know that those were our last two weeks with him. When he went back to our hometown, he took in those natural medicines (a vegetable-based diet with vegetable – based drinks). His blood sugar went dangerously low. On his last night, he vomited. The next day, he was found dead in the bathroom by his scholars. It turned out that he suffered from a heart attack. He died one week after we last saw him and he died without any of us near him.
The Anger and Pain
The days following Tatay’s death were filled with hurt, pain and anger, and even, guilt. Hurt because we lost our precious father. Pain because it seemed to be too soon. Anger because nobody among his people and scholars thought to call us, call his friends and even our neighbors to tell them that my father was suffering, that nobody even thought of bringing him to the hospital. Anger because he stayed inside the bathroom for 10 hours (he died around midnight and was found 10 am the next day) and when they got to him, he was already very stiff. Anger because he didn’t deserve the way he died. Guilt because we didn’t check on him too often and guilt because not one of us came back to take care of him. In the end, all we got was a from our neighbor’s son that Tatay was already dead. Even now, I don’t want to think what he must have felt and thought of during his last hours here on earth because when I do, I would be filled with these same feelings over and over again. He helped a lot of people and in he end; nobody was really there to help him.
My father’s death, by its suddenness, caused us to lose the man we all hold dear. Even now, we still feel the pain of losing him. As I write this hub, tears are still flowing down my face. We still miss him, very much. Wherever he is, I know he’s still looking down at us, watching over us. His memories will always live with us. To my Tatay, I love you and always will. We will always remember you. Love, Emie.