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?”
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.”
“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.