A LETTER TO MY PARENTS
My ever dearest Tatay and Nanay,
By now, my dear sister must have been there with you already. I could only reflect on the time you have spent here, the responsibilities left behind for me to fend and those matters which you intend to realize but never made it on time. Mother, you left us when you were barely 59 years old in 1989, still strong although you must have weakened considerably after suffering from three successive strokes. You were gone in an instant not because of ailment but because of the treachery of criminals. I vowed to hunt these perpetrators down even up to the end of the earth. I am not contented cornering a handful of your attackers. I have prepared myself for the worst. I will bring the evil of revenge in Hell, pluck the rest of your assailants and introduce brutality until Satan pukes as a result of horror.
Father, you followed at a ripe age of 86 sometime in 2008. Nanay was gone when you were only 67 years old and was quite active in the academe. You were forced to retire after reaching 70 but would rather seek an active and productive routine after that. Tatay, you never slowed down even after reaching the 80s. You were still hale and healthy although you had undergone the gruellest medical procedures when you were still in your mid and late 50s.
On hindsight, we must have some kind of “signos” after reaching the midlife period. Nanay, Tatay and lately Doris went through a fatal situation. Well, as for you, Tatay, you breezed it through. Nanay and Doris were not as lucky. And that meant a lot for typical Filipinos who succumbed to a grave ailment after reaching the half century mark.
Medical science is even more pronounced when it comes to studying this specific age range. Accordingly, eyesight becomes poor, for males the prostate becomes vulnerable, for females it signaled a menopausal stage and other neural deficiencies. Problems with kidneys, lungs, internal organs, blood pressure and the heart are almost automatic as if the period of 50 indicates a warning sign. Diabetes, arteriosclerosis, emphysema, aneurism, cancer and a host of other fatal diseases are sworn to appear in this period also. And why not? There was a frozen fossil of early man discovered in mountains of the Arctic period which was studied by scientist and they have concluded that the remains of the man died due to old age. The bones were carbon dated to have existed with in the period where Mammoths were not yet extinct. The age of the stone age man was 37!
We were still lucky to have transcended this early period of mankind. But with civilization comes a host of challenges both to health and lifespan. While we have extended a period within which to enjoy life, it comes with a number of challenges to confront. Firstly, the vices. Secondly, the tensions. Thirdly, the means of sustaining whatever it is that brings forth contentment.
I tried to replicate that which you have imparted to me as a fledging youth. I had Tatay’s audacity, I had Nanay’s reserved outlook. Of course, there was my younger sister, Doris, who would pamper me with lots of attention. But what good would these influences be if not relayed to the children, the succeeding generation. That is what I am trying to assess. I have been almost an absentee parent, unlike you. I have been a part time father, very unlikely to be compared with Tatay, who was always there. I could only be rarely seen, never felt; appreciated in the distance but never hugged up close; considered living apart but alienated all the way. My situation is not the same as that when your were around during my formative years. I could only cross my fingers so that your grandchildren would not be far behind the expectations you have carved for us, your children.
Fortunately, the universe is kind. It has endowed us, as you have contributed a number of genes that made me and your grandchildren some basic charms to engage reality and tensions. They are doing fine in their chosen fields. As a matter of fact, they even exceeded where I deferred. All of them are too busy conquering that which we failed to reach. The sacrifices you made were our spring board to attain higher goals.
I have never forgotten, even for a while, your presence. You may not be physically around but your influence on my life, partially as it deflects on your grandchildren, will always be an imprint of your authority. It may not be as solid, but it is always there.
I am nearing that stage whence I may not be able to sound off a reasonable letter to you or to my children. I could see signs everywhere that mortality through ageing is just around the corner. The obituary, which I ignore before, has become a familiar column which I oftentimes read aside from the editorial. Honestly, I may not be able to express my sentiment as crisp as today, hence, this composition. Time will consume the better part of my senses in just a few summers. I might as well write you before the period comes.
My point is merely to report, to articulate how we are today, the basis of how the next generation would be in years to come. Not necessarily to wash hands nor raise it in surrender, but to wave on eternity that somewhere, we were all there contributing on how life became too beautiful and how its beauty has been preserved for all time. It may not look great but that is what it is, beauty is in the beholder.
I thought that heroism is a badge that I should aim. That it should be earned come what may. But no. It is only reserved for those who are in the right place and at the right time. Suffice it to say, less heroism, I have carried your name, passed it on properly, so that it may rank along with those who respected life, loved it and induced the next generation to embrace it fully.
That in my estimation I have done. That in my estimation is what you want it to be.
My eternal love.
Your baby once (and still is),