Losing Part of My Home

"Home".  Ma said Pa liked this.  Pa is here sitting on his porch, one of the few things he could do for hours during his last years.  It took him and my mother 15 years to build this house.  Acrylic on canvas. 24" x 30"

I wrote about my home in "Painting 'Home':  Fruit of a Long Weekend" almost a year ago.

Yesterday, a major part of home has already physically left us.  Pa rested 5 minutes before noon -- two weeks short of his 78th birthday.

What is more sad about losing him is knowing that none of his children were there, although my brother visited last week, bringing with him my last letter to Pa.  I tried to save money hoping he could wait until we visit during his birthday on September 2.  This is my one big regret.

Ma said he left peacefully.  I wish I could completely say that that perfectly comforts me.  It doesn't.  Despite this being an almost 10-year up and down journey with my father's health and disposition, one still is never ready for the final breath.  Losing a part of one's life squeezes the heart and takes it to a super fast dive into the depths of sadness, leaving one grasping for air as the initial shock is absorbed by one's finite body.

I am the youngest of 4 siblings and I was still in elementary school while my sister and brothers were already in college.

Pa and I never had a meaningful conversation.  He wasn't taught how nor was it modeled to him by his own father.   We never had a father and son conversation.  We never sat down to talk about what course I should take or what kind of girl I should pursue or how I should live my life.  Ma took care of all those stuff.  So with this handicap he coped with the only thing he knew how -- to simply be present whenever possible.  He was present in most of the significant events of our lives.  He never expressed love through words but I learned to understand the lone language he had.  Ma simply became the literal speaker of the house.  "Your Pa said so and so about you..."  "Your Pa told me this..."  "Your Pa thinks..."

There is a single instance when I heard Pa talk about me and it was brought about by one of two things that could induce him to speak -- alcohol.  There is another thing that induces him to talk -- during the few occasions that he endured mental breakdowns; but that is stuff for another blog post.

He stores all his thoughts, feelings, aspirations, frustrations, hopes, joy and pride in his head.  They linger and simmer there for years until the external force of alcohol makes him lose his inhibitions and he will talk until he becomes sober.  On this one occasion that I am trying to relate, I was spending my college semestral break with him in the province.  Ma was still working as a teacher in the north, about to avail of the mining company's optional retirement in two years' time.  Pa and I went to visit his mother's grave.  His mother was murdered almost 10 years prior while Pa was still working in the Middle East as a construction worker and making furniture on the side.  I helped him carry a long piece of wood to replace posts in my grandmother's grave.

He started drinking with some men whom I didn't know.  I grew up in the north so I hardly knew anyone in my father's town. I lingered within the town cemetery, waiting for him to finish cleaning his mother's grave while drinking.  When he was already under the influence of alcohol I personally heard him for the first and only time talking proudly about me:  "My son is a writer!"  Not really.  I was only a bit player in our high school newspaper 1 or 2 years previous to that and won a mere two essay writing contests.  It was a single essay about catechism that placed 2nd in our school but eventually placed 1st among other Catholic schools in the province.  That was it.  But he was still proud 2 years after the fact.  He was talkative and animated because of alcohol.  It will soon wear off and seal his mouth until the next round of drinking.  But I took that single father's boast to heart.  Now I am writing about him.  I think he is part of the reasons why I am compelled to write and paint.

Pa sitting on his porch when he could still stand up and walk.

Surely this post is not enough to write everything about Pa -- about his being an OFW for 4 years, about his unrealized talent in painting and architecture, about his bouts with mental instability, about his father who was a self-made and feared man in town, about his mother who loved them to the point of indirectly supporting their vices, about his mother being murdered a day after Christmas, about his insecurity because of his shiny crown, about his unsupported and unrealized talent for singing and dancing, about his giving up painting in order to work and earn "real" money for his family, about his only gentle connections in life (his grandchildren), about the lot I inherited from him where a local church now stands, etc.  but I still need to pack.  My wife and I will travel home by bus tonight.

Internet connection is never stable nor fast in Pa's far, far town.  Let me just leave you in the meantime with this:

Fathers are a gift from God.  They are half of who we are at birth, our mothers being the other half.  I love my Pa, my home.  I have done everything in my power and within the given circumstances to serve and love him even though it seemed like we were eternally playing real life charades.

I love my father, my home.  I hope you love yours too.

Part Two:  Chasing Pa


“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. -- Malachi 1:6


  1. Thanks Kuya Aboy. This reminded me to love the other half all the more, especially that the other half is not around anymore. My prayers to you and your family.

  2. You're welcome. Yes, we all need these kinds of reminders from time to time. Thank you for praying for me and my family.


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