IT WAS a not so happy Father’s Day for us last year. We were supposed to go out for dinner with the family but we brought Dad to the hospital instead because of an illness. Who would have thought that Father’s Day would be the last time Daddy would be with us in the house? After nine days of confinement, Daddy said good bye.
Honestly, we all thought that he would feel better after a few days and he would return home with us. His passing was quite sudden that even up to this day, it still felt surreal doing the usual activities with family, minus Daddy.
The night he passed away was truly a painful one for all of us. But if there is one bright note about this very sad episode in our lives, it was the presence and heartwarming support of family, relatives and Dad’s close friends. The hospital hallways were filled with some of the people dearest to us, keeping us company and consoling us. I could not imagine how we would have been if they were not there. I would have passed out from a mix of intense grief and lack of sleep.
From the day he passed away up until his wake and his burial, one could clearly see how Dad was with his family, relatives, colleagues, students and friends. The outpouring of love was felt beyond mass cards and flowers. It was amazing having to hear happy stories and fond memories from some people who visited his wake whom we barely knew about, or have not seen for a long time especially his former officemates and high school batchmates, on how Dad was to them when he was still physically alive. What one of Dad’s most diligent students while he was still teaching in the university told me when she visited the wake summed it all up: “Your Dad was a very good man.”
It is very easy to say that we love our parents and that our family is top priority. But it is way different having to live up to those statements. Because we get busy with school or work, or perhaps too occupied with living the chill life with friends, we tend to forget that we also need to allot time for family. That means not just physical presence but also emotional. What is the use of spending dinner together when you are busy tinkering with your mobile phone?
It is also important to realize that all of us are not getting any younger and that includes our parents. It might be high time to shed off the care-free and at times spoiled and self-centered character and give back to our parents for all that they have done for us growing up. Sometimes we may like to project that we are too busy that we shut ourselves off from their needs and concerns. Let us try to be more sensitive and understanding to their needs, especially because they are growing old. If you are employed, offer to pay for some of the stuff they need or perhaps the household expenses. Try to help them when you feel they need something without having to wait for them to tell you. Pleasantly surprise them every day just like it’s their birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Dad’s passing is something that will never be easy for us to completely overcome. But as our relatives and friends would always say, Dad is enjoying wherever he is, eternally free from all problems and pain. May this Father’s Day not just be a moment of remembrance for Dad (and for all those who have said their permanent goodbyes to their fathers) but also an opportunity to reexamine priorities, renewed value for family, being more mature and being compassionate to our loved ones.