arranged by his brother and my mother.
polo. His dark thick hair and fair skin that smelled faintly of coconut perhaps the only things we had in common. After exchange of pleasantries, he
brought me to the now-defunct Carl’s Jr. installment in Taft Avenue, fed me
three extra large fries, and sent me home with coins worth P120. There were
four, five exchanges of good, ol’ snail mail where I had read about a Kuya
Dinmark, the word “acumen”; visiting Matina, Davao for business; and
other strange things my sixth grader brain was incapable of fathoming.
And that was that. My mother, who knew this man better especially
after he disappeared seven months into her pregnancy, told me not to expect
anything. I nodded, though a puny part of me hoped he would indeed bring me to
Davao where I will meet his relatives and the pearls in Pearl Farm. But the
letters stopped coming and I didn’t press for more.
bears the same middle name as mine (my cousin, apparently) – on Facebook, no
less – saying my father suffered a stroke two nights prior and is now in coma.
should I feel? What will I tell my clients? They surely would be weirded out
when I ask for a break because my father is in coma. As far as they know, he
passed away last October. Did he resurrect and fell ill on his second life?
inquisition in four words. Your
Papa passed away. At exactly 6:20 in the morning, a month before his
birthday. Coincidentally, my stepdad died at 6:20 in the evening, also
a month before his 67th birthday.
remorse. It was because this man, who happens to be my father, is now dead and
I have the freedom to attend his wake, only I don’t know him or any of his
family members or the tens of children he has with other women. I wish I had
that freedom to pay my last respects to my stepfather, the man who reared me
for nearly three decades, only I didn’t because of real world complications. I
can’t even carry his pictures home.
woman my age probably has. I did so thrice the day my biological father passed
away. People simply assume when a parent abandons a child, he must be filled
with inconsolable anger. But many times over, I also say, there is nothing to
forgive. I cannot harbor anger so unforgivable toward a person I barely know.
Many sons and daughters cling on to the hatred of parental abandonment like
hungry thieves are to a string of pearls, but I am not most daughters. I tried
to be once, at the height of puberty, but contrary to what I had believed, it
did nothing fruitful for me.
years, believing that constant acknowledgment of one’s losses is essential to
self-improvement – at least artistically. The bastard of a drunkard. An object
of the lewd. A manipulated bisque doll. Too many allusions, too many
names. “Without my wounds who was I? My scars were my face, my past was my life,” Astrid Magnussen once said.
us valuable lessons. But they are not all that we are. We are also the Now and who
we were wrought to become – by deities or another. Over time, I realized
acceptance is knowing shit has hit the fan then moving on to the next item on
the menu – without malcontent, guilt, or any of those excess baggage. It is not
about dwelling in your losses. Because when you do, it blinds you from the many
gifts you actually have. It prevents you from living in the greatness of the
more than the other though biologically we are not related. Many people
during my childhood thought it peculiar (some conservatives still do till now),
but if anything, I was blessed. Some people have neither mother nor father. As
an adolescent, I never viewed it that way. I thought that because I was no
longer in touch with half of my biological maker, there was something
lacking in my life. I was being capricious. I was loved all the same. Did it
matter who it came from?
eulogy for this passing away. Honestly, I didn’t know what to say until now.
Outside of my mother’s stories and those few letters he wrote – the vocabulary
of which was superbly alien to me – I don’t know the guy. Heck, I know my
neighbors better, and I don’t even go out of the house more than twice a week.
lives. And there are those who simply pass through to teach us a thing or two.
Strange as it may sound, my biological father was one of those people. His
passing through taught me about the importance of forgiveness, of being
content, and moving on so I could see the constellation of blessings I have and
stop nitpicking on the implications of labels. I don’t know him and yet without
him, I would not have fallen in love, discovered profound friendships, experienced
the raw world, or tasted the beauty and chaos of motherhood. I would not have
met an otherworldly good stepfather who showed me that sometimes, it doesn’t
take blood to love unconditionally and raise a child.
Thank you for the gift of life. It is tortuous, chaotic, marvelous, frustrating
and spellbinding all at once. I hope you had a journey as encompassing as mine
and that your walk to the other side will be just as amazing.