Forgiving my father
Family is important to me. I have one, but it was broken for a long time. Everything happens for a reason, I guess.
My family was happy before. We were just a simple family and we made unforgettable and lovely memories together.
I was in the second grade when everything changed. At the end of the last class I fixed my stuff and was excited to get home. When I arrived I looked for my father so I could hug him (I’m a daddy’s girl).
I looked for him inside and outside the house but he was nowhere to be found. I waited for many days because I thought he was just at my aunt’s house. But he did not come home.
One day I asked my mother, “Ma, where’s Papa?”
“Don’t wait for him. He abandoned us,” she said coldly.
I said, “Why?” It was the only thing I could say.
“He’s with another woman. He doesn’t love us anymore,” she said.
For a minute I felt like the world had stopped. Tears fell from my eyes. “Why?” It was the only question I wanted to ask my father.
My mom was left to raise three children on her own, but she didn’t give up. She would get up at 2 a.m. to go to the fish port near us to get some fish to sell in a nearby subdivision. She single-handedly supported us for more than 10 years.
When I was in the fifth grade my classmates came up to me and said, “Rodelyn, there’s someone looking for you outside. He said he’s your father.”
I couldn’t believe it, but as I walked out I heard a familiar voice. Then I saw his face.
I didn’t know what to say or feel; my feet wouldn’t take another step. He came closer and hugged me.
“Who are you?” I asked nervously.
“I’m your father,” he replied.
“Why did you come back?” I asked.
“I missed you,” he said. “You’re taller now. Where’s your sister’s classroom? Let’s find her.”
My father never explained why he had abandoned us. I walked with him but my brain was blank. He carried my backpack, put his arm on my shoulders, and kissed me on the head. I didn’t know what to do.
He stayed for months. And then he abandoned us again. When he was nowhere to be found, I cried and cried the whole night, asking God if I was not worthy to have a complete family.
I was in the sixth grade when he came to my school again, looking for me like the last time. I still didn’t know what to say or do. He stayed for a time, then he abandoned us again.
I reached the seventh grade. I was in school again, sitting in our classroom, when my friend called out to me, “Rodelyn, your father is looking for you in the canteen. Let’s go!”
I ran as fast as I could, and when I saw him I hugged him and begged him, “Please don’t leave us again, please.”
“I won’t leave you, I promise,” he said, and kissed me
on the head.
I believed him, but like his other promises, it was broken.
Apparently, he had been living with his mistress (as far as I know it was the second, but I can’t be sure), and they had a child who looks like me.
When we’d meet, my father would tell me to be friendly to his mistress. I complied even if I knew it would hurt my mother’s feelings, so I would keep seeing him. His mistress always boasted about how much my father would give her, and how she’d be able to go shopping; I, on the other hand, had to budget P250 for the whole week.
They eventually broke up, and my father got another mistress, younger than he. It was troubling because I was 14 at the time, and she was the same age as my older brother. He had a son with her, who also looks like me.
Months passed. My father was caught in a buy-bust operation and was jailed for selling drugs. I’m not going to lie: I knew he was pushing drugs to meet the needs of his second family.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I still do. He was in jail and I wouldn’t go there to visit him because I was so mad at him. When I first found out that he was selling drugs, I told him to stop, but he still did it.
One day our mother said we should visit our father in jail. We did, and we talked and cried. My father cried, and told us he was sorry for everything.
I told him I forgave him, but the hatred remained. My sister and I would visit my father in jail every Sunday to bring food and clothes.
He was behind bars for almost two years until our mother decided to help him out for our sake. She looked for a lawyer to help get him out of jail.
In those two years our father did everything to win us back: He joined the prison choir, he got a high school diploma through the Alternative Learning System (he received second honors), and he sold chickens to be able to send us money and help my mom run our household.
My 18th birthday was approaching in August last year, and I prayed to God for the best birthday gift: that my father would clear his name and get out of jail. His hearing was scheduled on Aug. 2, and my mother attended it.
When she came back I asked her how it went, and if there was a chance that my father would be released. She just smiled. She bought new curtains and cleaned the house. She was smiling the whole day.
I was lying down and watching a movie on TV when someone knocked on the door. I thought it was a neighbor who wanted to watch the movie, too, but when I opened the door it was my father, smiling. He hugged me and kissed me on the head. He was free.
I thank God for everything, even though there is still a lot of hurt in me. I know everything happens for a reason. We celebrated the Christmas and New Year holidays together, after a decade of being apart. My parents have gotten back together. The family I kept dreaming of is now complete.
I forgive my father for what he has done, and I pray that he will stay with us for good, because I want our family complete and happy. I believe that there are people who come and go, but no matter how long they stay away, they will come back if
they truly love you. Now my father is spending his time with us, especially with my mom.
* * *
Maria Rodelyn Paspie, 18, is in Grade 12 (General Academic Strand) in Riverside College Inc., Bacolod City.
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