Happy birthday to you! Today you will be 61, I wonder where you are, are you celebrating with friends or family or just on your own looking out to the sea?
Once upon a time you were my superhero, my Santa Claus, my protector, the tallest and strongest and most handsome guy in the world, the man I look up to, the one who will read me bed time stories at night, sing Simon and Garfunkel to make me fall asleep, and sing “Mockingbird hill” to wake me up each morning. Once upon a time you taught me how to play chess and ping pong and bowling and billiards and poker until I learned to count Hershey’s kisses like chips that I can use to call, raise or go all in.
I remember we used to go on midnight drives to the gas station convenience store to buy chocolates or to Minute Burger to have a midnight snack. Life was so simple then, the house in Bulacan was like a distant dream that I used to visit every summer so Kuya and I can play Monopoly and hide and seek with our cousins.
Everything is so different now. I last saw you three years ago when we had dinner at Shakey’s, you told me about your life and where you’re headed then you asked me what my plans were. We talked like old friends and suddenly I missed the father who knew the answers to all the questions, the cure to all the pain, and the solutions to all the problems. There were so many things I wanted to ask you then but it looks like as we grow older we’ll just have to figure things out on our own.
Pa, I think I got my anger issues and running away genes from you. I try to keep it at bay and everyday is a chance for me to be better, but sometimes I just want to leave everything behind and go as far away as I can to a place where no one knows me. I think that’s where you are right now, did you ever find happiness there? Is it everything you had hoped it would be?
You once told me that when you grow old, you just want to go to the mountains and live a simple life among indigenous people then teach them crafts, I wanted to ask you “but what about me? what about us?”, but then you taught me not to be the clingy, needy, possessive type. Instead you showed me how to be strong, independent and unattached, like you.
Someday, maybe I will see you tuning a guitar and singing “Bookends” or sitting at an old cafe playing chess with a random stranger and talking about the history of the world.
Till then, I hope you are with people who love you and I hope they are taking good care of you, or since you don’t like that domesticated crap, I hope you are strong and healthy and still fighting with life.