Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy 70th, Dad

Warning : this is a very long post dedicated to the first ever man in my life.

Love and fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other. - Joseph Joubert

There are 3 stages in a man's life : He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus - Author Unknown

Let me tell you about my Dad.

Growing up, I went through different phases with him.

First phase : Apple of his eye.

I'm an only girl and the eldest of two. It was so natural for me to be Daddy's Girl because there was no one else available for the title. I used to pray a lot as a kid about not having a baby sister. I didn't want one. Correction, I never ever wanted one. Too afraid that someone would steal my spotlight and my title. My prayers were obviously heard so I continued to bask in that glory, while my brother had to deal with high expectations for being the only boy and the only one who would carry Dad's name. But in all fairness to my Dad, whatever I got, my brother did, too. Plus we got extras if we had good grades or did something in school that really made him proud.

Second phase : Uh oh, here comes Dad!

As time went by and especially when I entered the teenage years, he took the Daddy's Girl bit more seriously. Phone calls were monitored (only up to 10pm or else...), Yaya had to be with me everytime I went out, I had to be chaperoned by a cousin on my Junior Prom (plus Yaya and driver waiting for me in the car outside and yes an early curfew), I also had to be chaperoned by the same cousins when attending other less-significant parties. Never ever got to attend a soiree in high school. He loosened up a bit in college because my brother and I were in the habit of going out on weekends together. His friends were my friends and vice versa. But the curfew was still there. In fact, it was there until right before I got married. No out of town trips for more than a day either. But I never complained, atleast not to him. I was too scared to do so. Each time I made paalam and got a "no", I quietly retreated to my bedroom to cry and talk on the phone for hours and that was how I dealt with it each time.

Third phase : How do I tell him I want to get married? Horrors!

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. The 3 of us seated on the dining table : Dad, me and my then fiancee and boyfriend of 3 1/2 years. We were going to tell him about our plans and ask him for his blessing. Mom wasn't there. She knew beforehand and probably didn't want to see my Dad's reaction so she skipped the entire proceeding. Nilaglag ako LOL! I remember going to the bathroom twice to pee because I was dying inside, so nervous and afraid. When my fiancee finally mouthed the words, there was silence of about 10 seconds. Then Dad spoke, "Where do you plan to have it? How many guests are you thinking of inviting?" No violent reaction, no questions about our decision. But I saw his real reaction beneath the surface. At the time, I didn't care much about it because all I could think of was WHEW, what a huge relief! On my wedding day, he smiled his usual conservative smiles. Mom joked that my Lolo (her Dad) looked the same way on her wedding day. She was a Daddy's Girl, too. The wedding went so well, I was oblivious to how everyone else was doing, including my Dad. It was years later, when I already had Anissa, that Mom told me how hard Dad cried days after I got married. I was surprised but not shocked.

Fourth phase : Dad, I'm pregnant with your first grandchild!

He was beside himself with happiness. I think most of the stuff we needed to buy for the baby came from him. Still so true to form, he wanted to take care of all my needs. Anissa's arrival was momentous. She was their first grandchild and it was a really special time for all of us. Anissa grew up basking in the same glory I knew back when I was a child. He gave her everything and more. I saw him transform into a much softer, more emotional version of himself. Anissa was his new princess and I never minded at all, that I had lost my crown to my own daughter.

Fifth phase : Dad, I'm a wreck

Years later, I went through a failed marriage and again, I didn't know how to tell him that I wanted to get out of it. I guess my primary reason for not running to him for any help was I didn't want to burden him or Mom. I was dead set on my decision and I didn't want people to try to change my mind about it. I did it one day and I never looked back. I decided to tell them after the fact and I was surprised that he took it well. Again, no questions, no sermon. Just silence and a reminder : take care of Anissa. Put her needs above yours. It's a tough road ahead but we know you can do it. To this day, I don't know exactly how he felt about my separation and eventually, my annulment. All I know is that he supported me and not once doubted my choice. He got back into the old habit. He would call each night to check on us, on weekends to ask if I was going out and who would take care of Anissa if I was. I felt like Daddy's Girl all over again. Sometimes I didn't like it, most of the time I was thankful that someone was looking out for me at my age.

These phases have stopped and I'm just at that stage where I am so thankful that at 43 years old and with 2 kids, after going through so much early on in my life, that I still have a Dad who's ready to take on that same role anytime the situation calls for it. Fortunately for him, he no longer needs to. But it's just so comforting to know that he's still there. I'm grateful that despite the many years he lived an abusive lifestyle as a result of his media-related work, we've never had to deal with any major concerns regarding his health. I'm grateful that my children are growing up with grandparents who spoil them to death whenever possible and that my parents are also still around to enjoy the Spoiler status.

Looking back, even if I didn't have a normal time growing up, having missed out on so many things because I was Daddy's Girl, I realize that the perks outweighed all those times. It's all water under the bridge now but cliche as it may sound, I wouldn't have it any other way.

He is 70 years old today. He has outlived both his parents and his only sibling. My prayer is for the Lord to give him more birthdays with us so I can someday repay him for everything he has done, even for the things he wasn't supposed to do but did for me anyway (and there are many, believe me). I feel I haven't done enough and I hope I get to do it for him soon. He'll always be my hero, my security blanket. My kids love him ten times more because of the kind of grandfather he is to them. They are loved beyond words and measure, because he (and my Mom) are still around.

The Lord has been so kind to me, by allowing me to still have my Dad today.

To my Daddy, my real life Santa Claus, I love you and I'll always be thankful for you. For all the things you've done and continue to do and for all the things that you are, I can't say thank you enough.

I pray for more and more to come

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