I’ve never wished my father a happy Father’s Day, I’ve never told him I love him and stuff like that. The same goes for my mother. I just find it embarrasing to say something sweet to them all of a sudden after all these years that we didn’t show affection verbally. It feels incongruent, if that makes sense. I remember one time when I was young I told them that I don’t do chores unless they told me to because I don’t want them to think I’m being heroic or something. I’m only doing things that fits my supposed identity.
So I thought to show my appreciation for my father I’ll just share this:
• The old cathlea notebook that my father used in college is still alive. I’ve never thought of my father as a college student before, so I was pretty amazed when I came across it. In it was some lectures notes, a bad drawing of an ugly naked girl, and a love letter written in English. It was quite amusing.
• There is this tall, steep, hill that my father loved to pass through to get vegetables whenever my brother and I went with him. Whenever we complained about it, he always jokingly said to us that he soldiers use the place as training ground, and that he was training us to become soldiers.
• As a way of kidding, he always asks questions. “Sino kaya love mo?”. He would ask Jamia, our seven year old sister, and then Jamia would list every one of our names. To my brothers that are older, he would ask senseless questions like “Sino kaya ang galit?” whenever they were annoyed or something.
I managed to master this art. I would ask people about who they love, or some other blatant thing, throwing the question to the air, in the third person as though I’m wondering out loud. We had a sari-sari store once, and I even used to stop kids just to ask why they wanted to buy Rebisco instead of Fita. I was conducting philosophical discussions with elementary students.
• I don’t remember how it started, but somehow, when my brother and I were in highschool, he shared to us many personal stories. We were lying on the mat that night, staring at the ceiling, listening to him talk about what he used to do when he was in highschool himself, the time his classmates teased him for being a “promdi”, the time he got into a fight with a classmate that resulted to them trying to stab each other with pens. He told us what he looked like when he was a teenager, that he used to have ear piercings, and he smoked cigarretes. He told us about the first time he saw a dead body, the cold body of someone he once knew as a living person, and that he slept beside it for a reason I don’t remember. He said the guy was a cousin and had a down syndrome or something, and he used to bathe the person. Maybe he slept beside the body because of the revelation that came from seeing death in the face of someone you see every day.
The stories went on for hours. We would ask questions, and he would talk and tell stories.
• Whenever my barkadas and I decided to make our house the “venue” – as we liked to call it – for drinking, sometimes he would talk to my to us and have a little chat. I don’t know if it’s only in the movies that fathers can’t relate to the “younger generation”, but he can. And he really has a good sense of humor. There’s this joke he would do, he would talk about a person and tell amazing things about them to the point of absurdity, a sort of Chuck Norris jokes but about people we all know personally. That is why I love stealing his jokes.
• They say that significant events in our lives are stored by the brain to the long-term memory, while those that are not important goes to the short-term memory in order to be forgotten. This is kind of odd to me, because every time I try to think about my father, the first thing that comes to mind are memories of him doing some mundane task. I have a persisting memory of him walking a few meters ahead of me one afternoon after a day of work. I kept wondering what he was thinking about. When he was climbing trees, peeling off the hulls of hundreds of coconuts, what was he thinking about? That was it. I was just looking at him as though if I stared long enough I would know.