Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I almost forgot about My First Love.

by Lieza

I could pretty much attest to the fact that it is hard to raise an old man—my Father, in this case.

These past few months, my Dad has become intolerable. Every morning at 6:30 AM, I’ll hear him knock on my door, open it and say, “PAPASOK KA BA?!” and leaves the door open. Sometimes, at 5AM, he’ll visit me in my room and talk to me, expecting that I’m already up and damn attentive: “Grabe, si Cez Drilon! Nakidnap! Kilala mo yung anak ni Franklin Drilon diba?”

EVERY DAMN MORNING! He never gets tired. If only I could press the stop button.

Everyday I get at least 3 texts from him. The first one, probably around 12:30 in the afternoon, telling me how tired he is from cleaning the house or from doing something else, the second, around 3PM reminding me of either avoiding some route due to traffic and flood or a text reminding me to pick up my two other sisters from work. The last one, would either be, “what time ka?” or “Uwi ka ba?” Some days I get lucky with bonus texts like, “Don’t drink and drive. If you drive, don’t drink” or “Where are you? Who’s with you?” or some updates on our 45-year old neighbor who has a wife and kids, who turned out to be gay (secretly dating our water supply boy—but that’s a different story).

EVERY DAY! He never gets tired. He never runs out of pre-paid load.

On weekends, especially on a Sunday, my Dad would basically pull my siblings and I out of bed. See, he likes to see us “busy.” Ate Elyss, the oldest, would suck up and do some cleaning in the sala, Ate Eiselle would cook up breakfast or lunch, and I on the other hand just wait for whatever utos my Dad and Mom would think of.

I would rant about this madness to my sisters, my officemates, and my friends whenever it gets a little too irritating. But then again, I somehow understood why he began to be like that. My Dad didn’t want us to grow old—he knew we would grow up one day, just not this fast.

There’s this one moment that I clearly remember, back when I was still 5. I woke up from a bad dream, and so I woke up my Dad. He didn’t ask why I was awake; instead he just scooped me up and carried me through his arms. He sang a lullaby and swayed me until I fell asleep.

I remember at that same age how he would ask me to dance and put me on top of the table and sing “tira tira pak pak pak!” while clapping with glee (note: picture it when I was five, not 24).

Everyday until College he brought me to school, attended most of the PTA meetings, made sure I had enough money, and made sure I was always safe. Taught me how to drive, accompanies me in LTO whenever there’s a need to renew my license, and the best thing? I get to get my way out from a traffic violation in Makati whenever I tell them who my father is.

Some nights he’ll visit me in my room and check if I locked the windows, he’ll rub my forehead and tries his best not to wake me up.

Sometimes during dinner, he’ll tell me how to take care of the car, to always lock the doors, and never talk to suspicious-looking people. He’d always say, “Kung wala na kasi ako.”

My Dad is 63 years old, and aside from his enlarged heart, he has prostate cancer.

Our family is a happy one—I mean literally. We joke about anything. It’s not that we didn’t take his sickness seriously when we first found out about it--whenever I look at him, he doesn’t seem to be in pain or even be bothered by it. It’s just that, maybe, we didn’t want to dwell on it…yet.

Kung wala na ko rings in my head like I have a deadline to catch. It means no more reminders, no more do-you-know-my-tough-Dad, no more lullabies, no more I love you anak.

The other night, he went inside my room and thought I was already asleep. He rubbed by forehead, and whispered, “I love you anak.” As if on cue, a tear from my left eye dropped the moment he closed the door.