Grown ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever be explaining to them.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince (novel)
This quote of the day was chosen in lieu of my father’s departure, again.
In several hours, we’d be taking him to the airport, have the usual goodbye quips and hugs, while I keep everything I want to tell him to myself, as usual.
I actually intended to write him a long letter (which I have not accomplished) expressing my impression of him as a father to me for three months, my observations of him as person, and properly extending my gratitude as a daughter who, though ever enthusiastic to object his ideas time and time again, learned a lot with our short stay together. I also want to assure him that I do love him as my father and I do respect him (though to be honest, this area needs boosting) as one despite my bitchy attitude sometimes and my silence whenever he shares his woes. I wanted to make him understand that I’m the awkward child in the family and he can’t do much about that anymore.
My father and I have a brittle relationship. I say this even if it’s a one-sided point of view because he’s confident there’s nothing wrong between us. Sadly, that’s not true.
In a parallel universe, I’m probably a very sweet daughter who can dance the waltz with her father and look up to him with sheer admiration and appreciation. In reality, I am tight-lipped around him and I always have to browse through a catalog in my head of possible topics to start despite my apparent aversion to small talk. As family, this isn’t natural.
You see, my parents separated when I was two years old. Once they settled their relationship as separate single parents, I only got to be with my dad on weekends, a family member’s birthday, and Christmas. As the years progressed and I got busier with friends and had an active social life, my time for family naturally digressed, more so with my father who lived in a different city. With a sudden, horrible turn of events, he had to escape to another country. Our communication was aided through fiber optic wires and a monitor on weekends and special occasions, which to all it’s good intent, never really helped much to strengthen my emotional connection to him.
Throughout the years, I suppose the image of my father had been pretty bleak. He was nice because he worked hard to get to our good side, he never failed to give us what we want (if we negotiate hard enough) and provide what our family needs financially. However, I strongly scowl at his pride, his never-ending public outcry of how his problems are always worse than his, and his not-so-subtle hints of begging for pity. He’s also the type of man who mocks the sincerity of a monogamous man.
(That, I proudly announce, have commented as bullshit to him in one of our better times together. See?)
There’s a saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Yes, agreeable, but my father refuses to be old, so it’s an invalid argument when he tells me to shut my trap whenever nag at his ever irritating ways. More than once, I told him that even with our dilemma with Tita, the shift in our family setting, the money problems, etc. he should have taken the chance he had with me and my brothers to get to know us better, even with the short time. Surely, if the big C problem never happened, then everything would never have happened. Fine, that would have been preferable of course, but I think I would never be able to spend more than a month with him, actually living with him and getting to know his good and bad side, getting to know him better if all these never happened. I would never have bother to learn how to cook rice and some dishes properly if he never forced me, or the things I should have been concerned in the house if he never came here to our aid. It’s sad that he spend most of those three months sulking at the pile of problems left for him alone to solve (I object because we were always there to help him, he just never trusted us enough to believe that we are capable of properly helping) and how our attitudes does not suit his taste, questioning our ripe characteristics. Like the kids he left for the states years ago, he expected us to follow all his decisions blindly just because he is the adult, the father.
However, it’s not like that. It’s not easy letting a person waltz into your life with the label of a father after being without each other for so long and instantly glorify the situation without thorns that have grown pricking us in the process.
We have grown so much, isn’t he proud we can defend our opinions so well? Isn’t he proud that even in our own flawed way, we’ve somehow survived society unscathed and still smiling? We can joke about the sad times in the past because we’ve accepted it and we have moved on. Sadly my father occasionally mulls on the times he was never there for us, the graduations and birthdays he missed, and seemed to have never defeated the guilt no matter how many times we assure him that we were never angry at his departure and that we are fine, we’re happy, we’re coping.
Although I guess that can be sad as well. Your family coping well even without you. Well, if we don’t have a choice, we can’t really do anything about it, can we? So just…move on with life and enjoy the present and the future! I wish at least 30 percent of my positiveness rubs on him. He seriously needs to change perspective.
Well, after three months, I’m happy to note that I have became closer to my father. I have a better image of him, and I’d love to visit him abroad in the future. I will miss him, but I think there’s still a lot of things we have to work on. Things we have to work on without each other. I love my father, but he gets on my nerves so much, I’d have to prevent potential family drama initiated by my imploding grief.
It’s been nice, well, more than nice living together these past three months. We’ve had rough days and relatively relaxed ones. All those memories I will remember more vividly as they were made in my later years compared to my apparent happy childhood which is a haze to me now.
Always take care, and I love you.
Till next time. 🙂