“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in Glory.” –Colossians 4 3:1-4
This story is not a typical love story wherein men chase women romantically in a vast land of grass, neither a story wherein a girl is forbidden to marry the men she truly loves but still soon ends together. This is a tale wherein intimacy was surpassed by mere chances we usually disregard. This is a story of us all; A story we did know; A story that reminds us of how important simple moments may be.
We often search for the best love stories—those ones which could make us cry and give those butterflies in our stomach. What we don’t know is, the best love story we could ever find in our entire lives is just found at home; in our own sweet home; in the core of those who were right there beside us from the very start.
When I was a child, I am fond of turning an hour glass back and forth curiously observing the sand slowly pouring at the other half of the glass. My innocence dictated me that time was just like a grain of sand which could be poured back and forth within a transparent structure. It is funny to realize that when I was growing up, nothing has change on how I believed in it.
Right in this very moment, I am holding a shoe. It is now rotten and dirty. Its shoe lace already gone. Its features already faded as evidenced by the time it had already consumed. It was a witness of who I am now today. Time passes. There is no doubt in that. This shoe has made that real. It does pass. Time conquers us. But we could not definitely conquer time.
This is a tale of a shoe. A shoe that was once sparkling with its newness, but is now rotten with childhood memories.
It was 1973. The day I was born. It was sunset, 5:32 in the afternoon, when the world first heard my cry. I was 2 weeks early than the expected date of delivery. I bet nobody expected me to be that early. And I guess no one wanted me to be that early.
My mother died because of Hypovolemic shock due to excessive blood loss when she delivered me. As I had my first cry, she also had her last breath. She died because of me. I stuck that belief in my head for several years. All I wanted was to have my mother back. But as reality prevails, that idea would just give me false expectations.
Life is irreversible. That was the first lesson I learned in life.
So be it. If life takes one of them, I do not put any grudge on it. God has his own plan. Maybe this was his design; an ambiguous design that I still keep on understanding.
I grew up with my father. He was not that tall, stands 5 feet and 4 inches in height, slightly stout with his belly protruding, dark brown in complexion, and has chestnut brown hair which he hates to comb. He was both my mother and father collided into one. He cooks, washes the dishes, does the laundry, cleans the house, sings to me until I sleep, helps me in my assignments, attends my parent-teachers conferences, and even mends my torn clothes. I often called him, “SUPERDAD”.
My dad taught me how to write. He was patiently guiding my hand as I slowly write my name in the empty sheet of pad paper. He was a witness of all the pencils that I broke and all the papers that I tore because of frustration. I was not that good on writing when I was a kid, I admit that fact. But one of the best things I like best in it is that I’ve learned it first from my father.
The first word that I had first successfully wrote: “DADDY”.
“Daddy! I want that! I want that! I want that now!”
I was 6 years old that time. I was on the state of bursting my tantrums in the middle of a department store. I was forcing my father to buy me that action figure that I saw while strolling. And in order to have it, I cried. I cried as if my lungs will burst into sorrow.
“Son.” he softly said, trying to calm me with his low and sweet voice.
“I want that now!” I yelled.
“At salary.” He said, still calm as he push the cart.
“You always say that! At salary, at salary. I don’t want to wait! I want that now!”
He smiled; a smile that is somehow synonymous with “surrender”.
At the end of that day, I’ve got my new toy. The product of my tears and my extreme emotions.
And where is the toy now?
It is now in the box of old toys at the attic. That’s where my old toys go after I have finished playing with them. Its legs and arms missing.
That was one of the characteristic I loved best with my father. He can’t stand seeing me cry. So whenever I have my tantrums, he could not do anything but to give me what I want. Yeah, I’m a spoiled brat.
My father has a soft heart that anyone could easily notice.
Whenever he sees a child roaming down the street, he buys them food and says “Here, fill your tummy up.” And the child smiles and runs back happily to his brothers and sisters who were sitting at the other side of the street.
“Hey, that food was supposed to be mine!” I protested, clinging my arms across my chest.
“Son, You just ate a fully loaded meal just about an hour ago. Aren’t you still full?”
I shrugged as my eyebrows met.
He kneeled in front of me and put his hand in top of my head.
“Look Son, you are lucky to be able to fill that large tummy of yours more than three times a day. But see those kids? Probably that food was their first and last meal for this day. See what I mean?”
I glanced at the children who were busy eating across the street. They were happily eating that two-piece of fried chicken as they were smiling at us; thankful of what we had gave. That was the first time I felt the fulfilment to help others. A simple smile from them taught me about the realization that giving would be much more fulfilling with an open heart. My Dad always reminds me of that.
My dad was always there by my side when I was a kid. He wakes up early to cook me breakfast before going to school. He warms a bucket of water for me to not have those chills while taking a bath in the morning. He puts powder on my back and a face towel underneath my polo shirt. He combs my hair and fixes my clothes. He accompanies me to school always and leaves me with a goodbye kiss and a message: “You do well in school son! Show them what you’ve got!” and fetches me on time when classes are over. He never got tired of that. It seems that it was already part of his daily routine.
I often asked him, “Dad, aren’t you getting tired of doing all those stuff for me every day?”
He replies with a smile, “No. why should I?”
We were not that rich, not that poor when it comes to status. After my mother left, the business that was usually centered in shoemaking was now managed by my father. The industry of shoemaking was not that well known in our economy. So our source of livelihood fluctuates often. Peak season, more money. Less buyers, be thrifty. Shoes are usually the basis of the status of a person. The more expensive your shoes are, the more you are considered elite. Well, in our case, shoes give our status rather than they define it.
I remember one night when I observed my father while he was making a black leathered shoe. I was there sitting quiet beside him as he finishes his forte.
“Dad, what is that?” I curiously asked as I pointed out the large bottle of glue that was on top of his desk.
“It’s glue, son.”
“Glue for what?”
“For making shoes.” He patiently answers my questions regardless of its sense.
“I thought glues are for paper only. That’s what my teacher said.”
“Well, your teacher may have missed explaining that to you further. It could also be applied to shoes.” He smiled once again.
Then came a moment of silence. I continuously observed my father as he puts glue at the edge of the leather.
“Why shoes, dad?” I asked, referring to his chosen business.
“Why not?” he answered.
“Why not candies, or cars, or computers, or toys? Shoes are quite…”
“Weird?” he continued my sentence. That was the exact word that I would say.
“Well, maybe, because shoemaking is weird, and I am weird as well. Hahaha.” He laughed, trying to make our conversation lively. His laughter was more of a “Hakhakhak” than a “Hahaha”. His laughter was also as weird as shoemaking.
“Hahaha. I have a story to tell you son. Do you know that the first time I’ve met your mother was when she tripped in the middle of the street because her shoe ripped off? Hahaha. She was quite blushing in dismay and shame. It was really funny.”
“Hahaha. What did you do when you saw mom tripped?” I asked.
“Well, good thing I have my extra slippers in my bag. I put my slippers on your mom’s foot. It was more like a Cinderella Story: Me being the prince charming, and your mom being my princess. But rather than a glass shoe, we made use of a rubber slipper. Hahaha. Weird isn’t it?”
“Hahaha. It’s more of romantic than weird, dad.” I replied.
He continued. “But you know son, although this business is quite “Weird” for most people, I believe that this is the best business in the whole world. Ask me why.”
“Because this business simply reminds me of your mother.” His tone seemed flat and serious now, as he stares blankly at the shoe that he was making. “I promised your mother that I would take care of this business. And that I would make more and more shoes for her. I promised that she will never trip again because of a ripped shoe. I promised that I’ll make her the most beautiful pair of shoe in the world… But I guess, that would be impossible now.” A tear fell from my father’s eye. He wept it immediately so that I could not see. He does not want me to see him cry.
The room was now covered with silence. He continued making the shoe.
I, again, felt guilty of my mother’s death.
I was 8 years old when I first learned how to drive a two wheeled bicycle. I considered it as an extreme sport when I was a lad. Gravity was my enemy. Inertia was my foe. Unfortunately, both cannot be retaliated. Blood and sweat was a consequence of it, literally. My Dad and I often visited a park which was located a few blocks away from our home for my practice. Every afternoon after my class, we proceed there. This became a part of our father-son bonding back then. One day, when we were at the park, my dad taught me how to balance a bike. I was wearing a helmet and protective gears as I strongly gripped the handle.
“Just look at where you are going. Don’t be distracted. Just focus, son.” My dad motivated me. He was the most supportive dad. He always says, “You can do it, son!”, even though I am much frustrated on what I am doing. He views everything positively. A trait that I did not inherit.
“I can’t! I’m scared.” I blurted.
“Don’t be scared. I’m just here by your side. Don’t worry.” He reassured me. Somehow, those simple words from my Dad secure me that I would be safe as long as he was beside me.
I had counted weeks, or months, before I have learned to balance the bike. My Dad was a good teacher. I was a bad learner. But hard may it seemed, practice still makes perfect. Or should I say, better. Just better.
And after 3 months or so, I’ve mastered the skill of biking. That was already an achievement for me. We returned to the park where we usually had my practice. As always, my father was still scared to let me go; afraid that I would once again trip into a small rock or something. He was not that risky when it comes to my safety. Parents are like that.
“Just look at where you are going. Don’t be distracted. Just focus, son” he said to me once again as he placed a helmet on my head. He always says this a million times during our previous practices. I often took that as a command than an advice.
But this time, I am more focused. No need to be reminded.
I put my feet on the pedals. And slowly started biking while my dad was still anxiously holding me.
“Dad, I could do this on my own. Trust me.” I said.
He looked at me, looked at his hand, and slowly removed it in top of mine. He smiled and stepped back. His smile was not that usual that time. It was a smile that contained something. It was a smile of letting go.
I was now able to balance the bike on my own. As the wind slowly touches my cheeks as I go faster and faster, my dad was patiently sitting at the place where I left him, observing me quietly with a smile, waiting for my return.
Birthdays are the most important event that a child undergoes through. For a child, it is much more than a gift giving rather than thanks giving. That was also my view on birthdays. Balloons. Food. Party. Gifts. My dad always surprises me during my birthday. I remember one time when he baked me a cake that was shaped like number 9 for my ninth birthday, although it was more like a letter G.
“Happy Birthday to you… Happy birthday to you… Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday… Happy Birthday to yooouuu!” He sang as he approach me in the dining table, holding the number 9 / Letter G cake that he had baked. His voice was out of tune but still continues to sing until he finishes my birthday song.
“Come on son, make a wish, and blow the candle.”
I closed my eyes, leaned forward, and blew the candle in top of the cake.
“Happy Birthday Son.” He smiled and hugged me tight.
“Here, I got something else for you.” He handled me a box that was wrapped with a colorful paper. A small card was attached to it. And it read: “Hope you’ll like it. Happy Birthday, Son. Love, Dad.”
“Wow! Let me guess! Is this the new the robot that I wished? Or is it the matchbox car I liked? Oh I’m excited to see what’s in it.” I hurriedly opened the wrap of the box, while curiously thinking of what is in it. I flipped open the box and found out what was inside.
“Shoes?!” My tone was on a high pitch, dismayed on what I saw. The shoes were made out of black leather with their shoe lace properly knot into a ribbon. It was shiny and obviously elegant. But, I admit, it was not what I had expected.
“I’ve made it myself, I was wondering if you’d…”
“Dad! I have many shoes in the rack. There is no need to have a new one.” I interrupted, almost shouting. I stood up, frowned, and entered the room.
“I thought you’d like it.” I heard him sadly whispered before I slam the door of my room.
The shoes were left inside the box. I left them at the dining table. Together with the cake for my birthday, and the one who baked it.
I had my first crush. Yes, it was the first time that I had felt the chills when I see the girl that I admire. It was the first time when I felt like there were butterflies in my stomach when I speak to her. She had a long hair that extends until her shoulder blades, she was the topnotch in our class, and she had the most angelic smile in our school. And guess what happened?
My first heartbreak already followed. It was a sunny afternoon when I planned to give a yellow bell flower which I secretly picked from the school’s garden. I was planning to say that I like her. That, she was the most beautiful girl in school. I thought that she would be surprised. But then, I was the one surprised on what I saw. I saw that girl holding hands with another guy in school. It was like a ton of steel has been pounded on my chest. In that instance, I felt that being too expectant would just lead to pain in the chest. And later cause tears in the eyes. I dropped the flower from my hand, stepped on it, and ran back to the classroom, promised that I will never talk to that girl ever again.
I went home, frowning that day, wishing that I never saw what I had seen.
“What’s the problem? Anything alright, son?” My Dad said, worrying.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” I shouted, as I head to my room. I banged the door.
He was the father. And I am the son. Sometimes, I forget that.
Things change. When I was a kid, all my world centers on my father. On what food will he cook for me in dinner, or on when will my father surprise me with another toy, or where will my father bring me during weekends. But now, as time passes by, it seems like all has been detached. For all I know, I can now live life wishing that I could live independently.
One characteristic I hate most about time is that it illuminates reality in a fast forward basis. It could be a friend and sometimes be a traitor. One moment you’ll find yourself in a moment of stagnancy, but you will soon be surprised that you had grown older without even noticing it.
I had my first pimple; A sign of being a teen. It was a good thing for me. At last, I am a teenager. I can do whatever I want. It was a license to drink beer, attend parties and skip classes.
My life when I was growing up was too busy; too busy that I felt that there was a remote control that was left pressed with the fast forward button that was manipulating my life. All was fast. All was definitely hectic.
I now graduated high school with honors. And I was now headed for college. A new environment. A new chapter. A new life. A new world. Away from my father.
I entered at a University that was away from our home. It was not that well-known but it was something that I could be proud of. I had to reside at a dormitory near our school. So, I decided to do so. I left my father alone in our house. I just go back and visit him during weekends or holidays. And during those weekends that I am at home, I was too preoccupied with my assignments and never had time to chat with my father. My life centered on books, paper works, and stress.
College has been the dullest part of my life. Period. Nothing important happened. I then graduated as an engineer.
I had applied on my first job in a prestigious company. Luckily, I have been hired in just an instance, even though I was just a fresh graduate. And that started the next chapter of my life.
Next. Pause. Play.
I was at the office when a girl suddenly drops by. Literally dropped by. She was prim and proper when she entered our office, handling a green folder as he approached the office of our boss. She was wearing a white blouse and a knee length black skirt. She was beautiful, indeed. Her hair was like silk that dances with the air as she walks. Everything was like in slow motion, it was like there were petals that were pouring from up above as she smiles. Every step she makes was a sound of a heartbeat. And as our eyes met,
She tripped. Ouch. Her mouth first hit the floor.
I went up to her immediately and lifted her up. Her front tooth was gone. Her gums bleeding.
It was the most embarrassing moment for her. But it was the perfect moment for me; perfect moment that finally tripped my heart.
She immediately went to the dentist and has replaced her tooth with a denture. I accompanied her. We get to know each other well in just a short while.
After then, I’ve got the chance to meet her again, got the chance to date her, and got the chance to know her well.
And in that moment, I knew, she was the one.
I decided to make the most crucial decision in my life as a man. I consulted my father.
“Dad? Do you think it’s the right time?”
“Do you think it’s the right time?” he asked me the same question.
“Yes.” I said, full of conviction.
“Then go for it.” he said. He handled me the ring that was in his finger. “Here. You’ll be needing this.”
“B-But Dad, this is yours. It is from Mom. I-I can’t…”
“Don’t worry. She had this idea. Before you were born, she gave this to me and said that I shall give it to you when the right time comes. When you have found the mother of your children. And I guess, you have found her, son.” He placed the ring at the center of my hand and closed it. He smiled and tapped my shoulder.
I decided to marry the woman I love; the woman who tripped in front of me when we first met; the woman that has an artificial tooth on her front gum; the woman that has caught my heart and the woman who will be the mother of my children.
She slowly walked down the aisle as I wait for her at the altar. I was unease as I see my future wife approaching me, waiting for that ‘I do’.
“Feeling excited?” my Dad asked, standing beside me, wearing a black tuxedo.
I smiled at my Dad as I took a deep breath.
“I remember when you were a kid, the only time that you were feeling anxious is when I carry you and juggle you in the air” He said.
I smiled as I suddenly reminisce those days; when I am nothing but a child so light to carry.
“You have grown up well, son. You have grown up well.” He tapped my shoulders and smiled. The same smile when I had first balanced my bike when I was 8; A smile of “letting go”.
We were blessed with a son. A wonderful son. An angel that was sent to us. He was just like me. His eyes. His nose. his face. He was just like a miniature version of me.
My father was now a “grand”father.
I was now a father myself. I gave all the time to my family. To my wife. And to my only son. I doubled my time in work just to earn more money. I was promoted on my job because of hard work. I have been able to buy a house for us. It was not that big, not that small. Just enough to start a family.
I tripled my time as a father, but I had forgotten to have a time as a son.
My father was left in our old home. Alone. He said that he wants to still remain in his old home. I visit him every week ends. But due to work, I fail to visit him on a regular basis. Every week ends became every month. It was both because of the distance from my new home and the time I catch for work. Every visit was like a snap. It was just like a “Hello, dad.” and a “Got to go, Dad.”
Every time I visit him, he always asks me questions about his grandson, his daughter-in-law, about my work, about me, and everything under the sun. “So tell me more about…” he always said. He always asks me questions as if he misses having a conversation with me.
My father, every time I visited him, was obviously slowly getting old. His age seems doubled every time I see him. His skin now slowly crumples. His eyesight getting blurred. One day, my father had urinated in his shorts. He said, he was not aware of it. The next day, he forgot where he put his slippers where in fact he was wearing it. His legs slowly getting weak. His arms now have tremors.
I decided to hire a care giver to watch over him since I need to work. Her name was Grace.
One Saturday morning, when I had decided to visit him in his home, I saw him defecating at the floor while Grace was still sleeping. The floor was messy as his dirt was scattered at the tile floor.
“DAD! What are you doing?! The bathroom is just there! Why here?!” I shouted unintentionally, a combination of stress from work and surprised reaction on what I saw.
He looked at me full of guilt. His eyes were sad and teary that time. He did not say a word.
I then felt guilty of what I have said.
Because of my busy schedule, every week end visit became every month, and every month became almost a year.
It was exactly 9 months and 3 days that I haven’t visit Dad.
A Thursday night came; I was on the middle of doing my paper works for office. The phone rang.
“Honey, could you kindly answer the phone, I’m just finishing something.” I said to my wife. She answered the phone.
“It’s for you.” My wife handled me the phone.
“Hello? Who’s this?” I answered.
“Sir, it’s Grace.”
“Oh, Hi Grace.What’s the problem, anything you need?”
“No more diapers? Don’t worry I’ll send money first thing in the morning tomorrow.”
“Sir, your father… is in the hospital right now.” Grace said, with her voice sad.
I hang up the phone. I did not know what to answer.
My mind blank for a moment.
My father was hospitalized that time. Because of old age. His body continuously weakens; his functions slowly degenerates. I left my paper works on the desk. Undone. I rushed unto the car, without changing my clothes, and drove my way to the hospital were my father was.
My father was definitely more important than any paper works.
It took 3 and a half hour before I have reached the hospital. I entered and wished that everything would be alright. A nurse pointed me to the direction where my father was. My heart beats faster as I draw near the room.
I looked inside the room through the glass plate of the door where my dad was admitted. He was there, lying helplessly on the hospital bed, an oxygen support was attached to his nostrils, and a cardiac monitor at his chest. Sitting beside him was Grace, reading him a verse from Colossians from the Holy Bible. I entered quietly.
The room was a little gloomy, sad. An emotion that I had felt as I saw my father once again.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have…” she paused reading as she saw me. She smiled, closed the Bible and put it on top of the side table.
“He’s been waiting for you.” Grace said.
I glanced at my father and saw him more closely. His hair was now white compared to the last time I saw him. It was as if last year when he had that chestnut brown hair which he hates to comb. But now, his hair was nothing but white; like threads from a sheep’s skin. His skin now crumpled with wrinkles as evidence of the time he had lived. His belly was still protruding, but was evident with difficulty of breathing. His eyes were closed as if he was sleeping like a baby.
It hurts to see the man that taught you to be strong to be slowly eaten by weakness and vulnerability. It was like a downfall of a mighty soldier in a battle; a bend in a strong and tall tree that I usually shade; a father that is now in front of his son, frail and fragile.
“How is he?” I asked, my voice broke as I force myself not to cry.
“He’s being strong. Doctors say that he fights for his life really well. He’s fighting… He’s fighting for you.” Grace said.
The first tear fell from my eye. I know he was fighting for me. He wants to still live because of me. All he ever wanted was to see me grow and be a man like he used to be. But that was the problem, because I was too preoccupied in being the best man I could be, I had less time to be the best son that I could be to him.
“I’ll leave you both for a moment.” Grace said, giving us privacy to talk.
I sat down at the chair beside his bed. I remember when I was a kid, he sits down beside my bed in order to sing me a lullaby before going to sleep. His voice may be out of tune, but he had the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
But now, it’s the other way around, I am the one sitting beside him, while he is quietly lying down on his bed.
He opened his eyes and saw me. He smiled and weakly said, “Ah, it’s you.” It was now more than a whisper.
“I’m here, Dad.” I said, my voice stuttered while hiding my tears from him.
He smiled; a smile that was weak but true; a smile that I missed.
“Dad.” I said.
He looked at me. His eyes teary and full of emotion.
I can’t stand it. My tears fell down. I was broken. Tears were flowing effortlessly as I see my father lying on that hospital bed. I held my father’s hand and placed it on my cheeks. His hand was now rough and hard. It was this first hand that I had touched; it was this hand that guided me to stand when I was a year old; it was this hand that guided me how to write; It was this hand that used to arrange my hair back then. It was this hand that molded me to be what I am now today.
I was too busy growing up; I forgot that he was getting old.
“I-I’m sorry Dad… I’m so sorry…. I’m really really sorry.” All I wanted was to say sorry that time; Sorry for all the things I have done to him; Sorry for being a bastard when I was a kid; Sorry for all the things I have done wrong; Sorry for not being there when he needed me most.
“Don’t be.” He replied with a weak voice.
He raised his weakened hand and wiped my tears.
Until now, he does not want to see me cry.
“Dad, I want you to know that you are the best dad in the entire universe. And I am proud to say that. And I will never get tired of saying that over and over again… I love you, Dad. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t go.” I begged him, even though I know it was futile.
I kissed him in the forehead and hugged him tight, wishing that he won’t let go. “I love you, Dad. I love you.”
He clasped his hand on mine, although he was weak to do it.
“I love you too, son. I missed you.” He whispered on my ear. “And I’m proud of you. Always am.” He was weak but still managed to say those words. Those were the most precious words I always hear from my father; those words would remain in me forever.
He smiled; the smile that I saw when I was 8 and when I was about to be married; the smile of “letting go”.
His eyes slowly closed and his arms slowly slipped from my hand. A tear dropped from my father’s eye. The ECG wave went flat.
He took his last breath. His last peaceful breath.
Everything went dark.
When I was a child, I am fond of turning an hour glass back and forth. I observe the sand slowly pouring at the other half of the glass. My innocence dictated me that time was just like a grain of sand which could be poured back and forth within a transparent structure. That was what I believed back then.
If time could only be reversed, I will be spending more of it with my father. If only it could be.
But then, I went back to the first lesson I had learned in life. “Life is irreversible”.
As well as time.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in Glory.” The priest preached, centering on death. It was the exact verse that my Dad last heard before he died.
“Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” I said to myself, trying to alleviate the pain.
It was my turn to speak. It was hard for a son to speak for his father. There are many things that I would like to say to him. But unfortunately, it was too late. The speaker called my name. I rose from my seat and went up to the microphone. It was a weird feeling to stand in front of the coffin of the old man that once gave you life; to speak about him was a privilege, a choice, and at the same time a chance; a chance to say things that was left unsaid.
I observed all the people who were seated at the chapel. Some were wearing black. Some were in white. My wife was seated in the front row together with my only son and a vacant seat where I came from. Others were relatives, close family friends, and colleagues. Others were unfamiliar faces. Everyone has tears on their eyes, weeping as they were listening to the mass.
I closed my eyes for a while, took a deep breath, and started to give my father’s eulogy.
“Who among you have idolized Batman, Superman, G.I. Joe, Or Wonderwoman when you were kids? Raise your hand.” I started with an unfamiliar question. With an unusual question. Majority raised their hands. Some were mesmerized by it. Some were just scrutinizing of what I’ve just asked.
I continued. “Well, I too was guilty of that. I had my collection of different action figures of G.I. Joe and Batman when I was 6. My dad spoiled me with much of it.”
“I guess you too are guilty of placing a blanket on your back in order for it to look like a cape, and then you’ll climb up the cabinet, and jump as high as you can just to imitate how our adored superheroes fly from the sky. Right? And because of being a hard-headed brat, you’ll end up wounded because of the non-sense that you have made. And you will cry like a baby because of the pain it brings you. Remember those days?”
“But, in the middle of our crying and downfall, there would always be a voice that will tell you, ‘Come here, son. It’s going to be alright. Let’s clean that wound that you’ve got.’ In those instances, we were not saved by Batman, GI Joe or Wonderwoman that we used to admire. Rather, we found someone much better than those superheroes that we once adored—the true superheroes in our life— Our parents.”
“I remember when I was a young lad, I asked my father to buy me a GI Joe action figure when we were at a department store. I cried to my father, ‘I want that! I want that now! I want that now!’ I was truly a bastard that time, well I guess until now. Just to get what I want, I used my loud voice and my annoying cry.”
“But now, I want to ask God something. Something more than that action figure of GI Joe that I saw years ago in that department store… I want to say to God: “God… I want him back… I want him back now… Please… I want him back.”
My tears were uncontrollable as I look at the coffin were my father lies, begging to God to bring my father back to life. I was like being a six year old child once again begging to have a new toy. If my father was only here, he would wipe the tears on my eyes and say “Everything’s going to be alright, son. Don’t cry.” If only he was still here. But this was not an hour glass. Nothing will change. Even though how hard I beg for it.
“My Dad was not perfect. All of us know that. He has a large belly that seemed like he swallowed a huge globe, eats with his hands even in social occasions, sings his heart out loud even though he has the most horrible tune in the whole wide world, enjoys making shoes rather than cars or computers, and farts with a very foul smell just to wake me up from sleeping. But one thing I do believe is one thing. He is the most perfect imperfect man I had ever known. Although this man is a perfect example of an imperfect man, his imperfections will still remain in me forever. I will miss to see his large belly. I will miss his eating habit in the dining table. I will miss his out-of-tune voice when I go to sleep. I will miss his disgusting and foul smelling fart in waking me up. I will miss every part of him. I miss you, Dad. And I will miss you forever.”
“If there was an award for The Most Supporting Father, it will definitely be awarded to him. My Dad was very supportive of me. He never loses faith when it comes to my strengths and even my weaknesses. He believes in me more than I believe in myself.”
“I first learned to balance the bike when I was on my early years. Maybe when I was 8 or 9. He taught me to be focus on what I am doing. Not to be distracted. As he always said ‘You can do it, Son.’ I did what he had said. And after months of practicing, I did well in my lessons in biking. When I had balanced the bike on my own, I said to him, ‘Dad, I can do this on my own.’ He trusted me. I successfully balanced the bike that time as I go farther and farther from him. I thought that moment would be fulfilling because I could already do it on my own. But it just breaks my heart to see the person who had taught me being left behind.”
“My father was a shoemaker. Yes, he makes shoes. Most of us find that job weird and unusual; a job that could possibly put us out from the state of being elite. Well, we are not rich. And I am proud of that. My father had gain friends, had gain experiences, and had gain more love than those who were on top. And I guess, my father was rich in those terms. He is rich in his own simple ways. Why are we gathered all together here today? Why are we spending all those tears because of his death? Why are you listening to me now as I speak about this man that is lying in front of us? It is because of one thing. He was loved. He is still loved. And he will be loved forever.”
“Dad, I know you’re doing fine right now. Now that you’re with God. And with Mom. But Dad, I just want to say to you that I’m really grateful that you were my father. You were and you will always be the greatest Dad in the whole world. Thank you, my Superdad. Thank you for always supporting me in times of my frustrations. Thank you for being always there by my side even though I am the one running away from you. Thank you for every little thing that you have done to me. And most of all, Thank you for giving me the privilege to be your son.”
“I know this is not Good bye, Dad. I know that you will always be there by my side. Just like the old times. And I know someday, we will soon meet again.”
“Daddy, you can let go now. You can let go.”
“But I will never let go of you.”
“I love you, Dad. And I will always love you, forever.”
The mass was ended. The crowd was now gone. The altar already vacant.
But my father’s legacy will still continue in our minds, and in our hearts. He will always be a part of me.
I went back to the house where it all started. I stepped in front of the main door and glanced inside through the window. Its atmosphere was now quite gloomy. Every corner of this house simply reminds me of our sweet memories with my father. It was in this house where I had my first birthday; my first word; my first walk; and my first laugh. And now that I am 37, it feels as if my father still carries me in his arms, singing me a lullaby.
I went up the attic. Where my old stuff goes after I had finished using it. It was still the old attic where I used to hide when my Dad and I played hide and seek. Nothing has change. Still the same old stuff. Still the same old memory.
I opened one of the boxes that were tightly placed in one corner of the room. It was labeled: “Toys”. There they were. My old stuff. My collection of action figures, my old trade cards game, my first chess board, my first snakes and ladders, different sizes of toy cars, my old yoyo, and a familiar box that I once knew. I held the small box in my hand and tapped it to remove the dust that surrounds it. I opened it and saw what was in it.
It was the old shoes that my father once gave me when I was 9 years old. It was those shoes that I once rejected because of frustration. I took the shoe out of the box. It is now rotten and dirty. Its shoe lace already gone. Its features already faded as evidenced by the time it had already consumed.
I thought it was the worst gift that I had received in my whole life.
But I was wrong.
Because this shoe had taught me something about life. That life was just like a simple pair of shoes. We could get rotten because of the time we had spent or because of the impact that we had gone thru. But there is something special about shoes that they still remain exceptional. That in every shoe, there would always be its pair.
My father was my pair. A pair that even though how many times I ran away from him, still keeps on being beside me. No matter what happens.
We often search for the best love stories in town—those ones which could make us cry and give those butterflies in your stomach. What we don’t know is, the best love story we could ever find in our entire life is just found at home; in our own sweet home; in the core of those who were right there beside us from the very start.
He was my teacher. My savior. My preacher. My superhero. My Bestfriend. My pair.
This is a tale of a shoe.
A story about a father and a son.
And this is our love story.