Exactly three decades today the 2nd of August. We were dining for a typical lunch hour after the morning class in our bungalow house. Though it was blurred in my memory, I still remember that time, our last meal with our father. Our classes were suspended that afternoon due to some reasons that I didn’t care much about. Our family were all sitting in a long wooden bench and table enjoying the meal our father prepared for us. He used to be the chef because mom was busy working to provide for our family.
My dad suffered from a couple of stroke which led him to become half body paralyzed. He can walk but with difficulty. Since then, he stopped working (he used to work abroad before he got sick), so our mom replaced him as the breadwinner of the family. He enjoyed much the meal that lunch because he cooked his favorite dish eventhough it’s not good for his health. After eating, he then went backdoor to feed our pet dog Charlie while me and my sisters were cleaning up the table. We were trained to do household chores assigned to each of us. I was very happy that moment because I could play all afternoon. Suddenly, I heard dad’s coughing. It was only like three consecutive dry cough. And we were all stunned. In just a few seconds, our dad already lying down on the floor, unconscious. We were on panicked. We didn’t know how to handle the situation. My dad is like 5’10 in height with an average weight. Nobody from us can lift him. My sister called for help from the neighbors. Some men carried dad to lay down on his bed. He’s still unconscious. My mom told me to go to our relatives’ house to call for a doctor and ambulance. I didn’t know how I ran that fast and reached my aunt’s residence which is 300 meters in just two or three minutes. When I got back home, my mom and sisters were already in tears. I got down to massage my dad’s feet, which I used to do everytime he’s tired. It’s a therapy for him. When the doctor came, he examined my dad and declared dead afterwards. I was crying still massaging his foot hoping that he would wake up. I still didn’t understand the whole situation. We were just enjoying eating and then he’s gone. He passed right away. He left us for good without bidding his last farewell. I was only in 4th grade then and our youngest was only an infant. We’re not ready for that surprised. It’s unexpected. We still need him, though he’s not providing us financially anymore. We still need his guidance. We were all young. My mom still young to be a widow.
The rest of the funeral moments were like a mist in my memory. Maybe I just wanted to forget it. To be honest, I didn’t had that much of memory with my father. He’s not with us for five years before he got stroke because of overseas work. He just got back home for good when I was around six, and he left us when I was eight. My vivid memory of him was when he ran after me and my sister whenever we climbed the tall aratiles tree in our backyard, and he’s already paralyzed then. He always gave us a scold with a slapped of slipper or his crane on our butt. I missed that moment.
Every now and then, I asked myself, what’s the feeling of having a father while growing? I’m still longing for that feeling even thirty long years had already passed.
(In loving memory of my Tatay (Dad): Mr. Jose “Pepe” F. Castillo, died August 02, 1990)