Thursday, February 22, 2018
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Young Blood

Celebration of maybes

“I’m drinking tonight to celebrate my late father’s birthday,” I told my friend.

“Maybe I’ll also drink in his honor,” my friend said. “What would he prefer—rum or lambanog?”

“Actually, I’m not sure. Rum, maybe?”

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Alcohol preference is just one of the many things I don’t know about my father. In fact, if he hadn’t died, I would not have met his friends from whom I could learn a little more about him—how he was as a teenager, how serious he was at work, what his hobbies were, and other simple things one could easily find out in a person’s “slum book” entry.

And most of the time, I get by with assumptions. When people ask me about him, my answers always come with a “perhaps” or a “maybe.”

“Did he like sports?”

“Yes, maybe. I think I once saw a tennis racket in his house.”

“Did he like to read?”

“Perhaps. After his death, I found some books in his house.”

“How about food? What did he like?”

“Fried chicken maybe. I remember him taking me to this fried chicken store when I was a kid. Also, when I stayed in his house one summer, I think he cooked fried chicken for me.”

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“Type of music?”

“Tunog kalye (Street sounds)? I stole his Tunog Kalye CDs one summer afternoon. I guess he really liked them.”

It gets frustrating, especially when people ask why I barely know my dad. Sometimes I think of drafting an official statement that tells the whole story about how my parents’ marriage broke down, just so I can avoid repeating my family history over and over.

But the idea does not really linger in my head. Even if I issue an official statement, I know there will still be questions and I am sure what they are going to be like.

“You know your dad, which means you are lucky compared to other people out there. Why didn’t you even take a chance to get to know him?” someone asked me.

The thing is, I don’t really know how to answer this question. Maybe I could not get over the fact that he cheated on my mom. Maybe I just didn’t like my stepmother and I really wanted to stay away from them. Maybe I was jealous, because he had another family. Maybe I was envious because my half-siblings lived with him and I did not want to see them happy. Maybe I was embittered because I could see that he was happy—and he could be happy even when I wasn’t around. Maybe that made me realize that, yes, he made the right decision and that he left us for the better.

Or, perhaps, it was also my fault.

Maybe I should have given him a chance. Maybe I should have talked to him more often. Maybe I should have shown more enthusiasm during his weekend visits. Maybe I should have opened up to him, just so we could have something to talk about. That could have urged him to tell me things about himself. Maybe I should have asked him more questions—about himself, his life, his work, his interests, his thoughts, his past, his fears, his regrets. Maybe I should have asked him about what really happened and why he did the things he did in the past. Maybe I should have given him a chance to explain himself.

Maybe I should have listened to him. Maybe I should have had a little more faith in him, especially during those times when he told me he’d do things for me not because he needed to but because he loved me. Maybe I should have told him, sincerely, that I knew he would. Maybe that could have made him feel better, could have assured him that I still had trust in him.

Perhaps I should not have taken him for granted. Perhaps I should not have pushed him away.

Maybe I should have done all the things I wish I had done before he died—all the things that I thought of the moment I learned that he had breathed his last.

Because if I only did, maybe I could celebrate Father’s Day with a clearer picture of him in my head and with fewer regrets. And I would know what to drink for him on his next birthday.

Mina Deocareza, 23, is a copywriter. She blogs at LRTQueen.com.

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