73 years old...
On this day, June 13th, 2017 marks the 13th year since my dad has passed away. On this day he would have been 73 years old. There are always three days out of the year that make it exceptionally difficult for me. His Birthday, Father's Day, and the day he died.
Anyone that knows me, knows how much I deeply loved my father. I credit everything I am today to him. He started grooming, and teaching me the most important lessons in life from a very young age; even if he didn't know he was actually doing it.
You see, when my dad was 42...he suffered a sever stroke that left him paralyzed completely on his left side; I was only 2 years old. My whole life, I only knew my dad in that capacity, but that didn't make me love him any less. I did not yearn for a dad that could walk normally, and play with his son. I didn't yearn for it because my dad did that with me despite his disability. We would play together like any other normal father and son would.
My dad was an extremely independent, determined, happy, and loving man. He taught me that a man never gives up in life. That no matter how hard the struggle is you always fight through. There was no obstacle that my dad could not get over. Mind you, this was a man that had to re learn how to eat, speak, walk, and even drive. He conquered all of that and more. He took care of me and my newborn sister while my mom worked. He changed my sister's diapers, and taught me how to do so in the process. At the age of six I would go into the grocery store by myself to buy milk and eggs, just to save him the trouble. I would help him build entertainment centers, wash the car, and load his wheel chair into the trunk. Where ever my Dad went, so did I.
I would follow him everywhere, there was no way I was leaving his side. When I was around 7 years old my parents would get a divorce, and my dad would make the decision to move back to the Philippines. He so lovingly asked me if I wanted to go with him. With out hesitation, I said yes. I lived with him for 1 year in the Philippines, until my mom came to visit, and decided to come back home with her to The States. That was 1994, and I would not see my father again until 10 years later.
Little did I know that the next time I would see my dad would be at his funeral. My dad died on August 20th, 2004; I was 20 years old. I remember the day we got the call like it was yesterday. I remember my sister coming down to my room to tell me. I remember my mom, sister, and I just crying for hours. With in the next 36 hours I would be on a plane to the Philippines by myself. My mom and sister had just seen my dad 2 months prior to his death. I had just started working as a mechanic and couldn't take time off to go. My sister didn't want to go to the funeral because she wanted to remember him alive; since she was only 2 when she last saw him. When my mom and sister got to the Philippines they called me and I got a chance to talk to my dad. He said he would buy me a plane ticket to go see him during Christmas. I was so excited and couldn't wait...but that day never came.
I remember being totally numb on the plane ride. I remember my uncle and cousin picking me up from the airport, and taking me straight to the funeral home. I remember walking up to his casket, and just looking at him. I was filled with so much anger. I couldn't understand why he had to die before I got to see him. I didn't think it was fair for him to do that to me! The next day we held a ceremony at the funeral home, and there was a moment in the ceremony where I had to sprinkle holy water on his casket...and at that very moment...I broke down into tears. It had finally hit me that he was actually gone, and I would never get to talk to him again .
...Every so often I break down in tears...I've broken down several times just writing this post alone. The funny thing is...He continues to teach me lessons. As I come into hardships, obstacles, and emotionally trying times...I always think back to my dad; and everything he had to endure. He endured for a very long time, and left a very strong legacy.
I am very grateful to have had a Father like him, and I can only wish to live such a life as he did.