I’m just counting hours for my father’s arrival this week. I am not particular with the exact time of his coming because I will not meet him at the airport anyway. There will also be no placards and exorbitant banners to welcome him. Since the time he left the country, and every time he goes back on intervals, we are not used to join and meet him at the airport.
Perhaps, this is just a mechanism for all of us to avoid emotional outpourings of bidding goodbye or welcoming him, or maybe, for practical reason that we could save money if we don’t join him at the airport. What is important is that we’ll see him home.
His arrival this time would be different. My sister who works in Manila can welcome my father. The history of not meeting him at the airport would be changed, and my sister will be the first one to experience how it feels to welcome our father, fresh and sound. Aside from the Yuletide season, my father will be with us for three months because of my sister’s wedding in January.
He will be one of the thousand, if not million, OFWs to go back to their homeland to spend Christmas and some other important family events. Their comeback is much rejoiced, but their exodus is hard to reckon. I am now calloused to recall the moments without him. And I am even trying hard to reminisce the moments with him. But excitement always dominates the feeling when someone I love is coming.
Thinking him and my bilin of a digicam, I’ve got bunch of suggestions in mind when he arrives that I haven’t told him yet. I will lure him to treat the whole family to visit Baguio where I stay. If that happens, it will be our first get-together as a family outside Pangasinan. I will tour them in places I usually go, introduce them to friends, churchmates, orgmates, and special people who serve as my second family in Baguio.
I will maximize the digicam he had bought for me to take family photos, be it stolen or wacky shots. Or maybe, we’ll just go to the professional photographer to take our first family portrait. And then, since there is a resort about 30-45 minutes away from Baguio, we can go swimming and pamper ourselves with the soothing effect of the hot spring, and the rest of the day would just be perfect.
You see it’s very easy for me to suggest such things, but I know the possibility that it may not happen. But I’ve got plan B at hand just in case the first one fails to happen. However, it would be limited for him alone. If, hopefully, I receive my little bonus from my work in December, I will propose that he stays in Baguio even for three days or a week, my treat, so he could just unwind and see a bit of what life his son is enjoying and enduring in Baguio.
Perhaps, he will understand why I keep on staying in Baguio, not just indulging the freedom of living independently, but because of higher calling of serving God. He will understand why so far I don’t follow his advice for me to work abroad. He will understand why I keep on saying I am still young, and I am not in a hurry to get rich, which is not all that matters. And hopefully, I could say to him that I love him, a phrase I practiced during his absence, solely intended for people I truly love.
On the other hand, I hope to further understand why he keeps going back to Saudi to work aside from financial reason. I hope to hear him speak from the heart what he really wants me to become. I hope to hear from him his plans after he retires from being an overseas worker. I desire to hear from him his stories on raising us up, and how he struggles to overcome the boredom of working far from us. I desire to feel his love skin deep. We haven’t done that ever since.
It was very hard writing this piece. Many times I swallowed my thirst just to control my emotion, just to spare me from looking like a jerk when I cry. Though I treasure the culture of crying because of its healing and edifying effect, the emotion that exudes in remembering the times with and without my father is irreconcilable. I could not blame him for working abroad, but I could not also discount the fact that with his absence, a sense of longing has been cultured in my heart, in our hearts.
With his presence, things would have turned better. He would have been prouder to see me receive academic honors and how I turned out to be a volunteer campus minister. He would have been my younger brother’s best basketball coach. He would have been my older brother’s best pal in giving pieces of advice about fatherhood and parenthood. He would have been my sister’s most appreciative audience when she sings. And he would have been my mother’s comfort, strength and joy in raising the four of us.
Things would have been better during his presence. But it doesn’t mean we cease to love him during his absence. When my father comes, I will really say I love him. And I will not mind crying and looking like a jerk, as some women say of crying men, but I’ll be grateful that God has gifted us a father like him.
I may not be at the airport with all those welcoming paraphernalia, but when I receive my bonus, Pa, how I wish I could treat you. Go up and cool down in Baguio. †