Dearest Tatang (A letter to my long departed paternal grandfather)

(I wrote this a few days before my birthday last February. I did not share it then because I feel this is so raw and it is still raw today. I could still improve this in terms of construction but that would take time when all I want to do is to share something personal and true this Father’s day. Happy father’s day to all!)

 

Dearest Tatang,

In a few days from now, it will be exactly 27 years since you first held me in your arms and bragged to everyone that I look like you. It’s almost three decades and here I am this morning, crying like a baby as if you were gone only yesterday. Crying is not even the word to describe it, maybe wailing is a more appropriate word. Why do you have to leave so soon? Why did you have to leave me without a memory of you or a lesson or at least one bonding moment? Can you please ask God to send me answers to my questions? I was barely a year old when you left and I didn’t even know your voice. Why?

henry-wadsworth-longfellow-433583

They say this is one of your favorite poems. They say you would recite it once in a while, maybe after getting occupied with your woodworks. Now that reminds me of the table where I am currently writing this, you made this and that’s why I so love this table. I even refurbished it with your bunso (my father), if you saw us that day.

If you only left when I was a bit older, say six or seven years old when I can already speak. Maybe you could teach me the poem and watch me recite it in front of you. You know, I was already reading English at five! We were already reading the Come and Play book at school.  You could have also taught me other poems or read short stories for or with me. You know Tatang, I adore stories today. I love reading and has in fact just finished reading four books this month. You will be proud of me.

They say that you’ve been also in the army. My father would tell me the anecdotes you told them when you were still in the battlefields. And I would imagine you, young, wearing commando’s clothes and fighting in the fields. If you were alive today, you would be happy that I am working with the government too. With the stories I hear about you, I know you loved our country too. You’re a father and a patriot.

They say you’re the best encourager ever. You would push your children to pursue and chase away their dreams no matter what. I remember when Ate (my aunt, the second eldest among the brood of six) would always recount the story of her taking the Licensure for Teachers’ Exam. You were always there for her – providing money for the exam and providing tons of encouragement. She passed the exam and started teaching in a private school. Now with your wisdom, you pushed her to transfer to public school where she can be more appreciated, both morally and financially. That’s what she did and she always tells us it’s one of the best decisions she ever made her entire life.

If you were alive today, I am sure that you will also be my number one fan. You will be my bank of good words and love whenever I feel lonely or discouraged. You will hug me each time I cry and I know you will teach me how to fight again.

tatang 2
One of two surviving photos of my grandfather. I thought there’s a photo of us together but I found out that I only fabricated that photo in my mind after hearing stories of him saying I was his favorite apo.

 

They say you were a diligent carpenter, good husband and provider. You work with much concentration and precision. I think that’s one of the things my father got from you because whenever he works on my project, it’s really taking him long! He makes sure all the measures are correct, all the lines are ‘pantay’ and all the materials are complete. You also loved Inang and the kids with all your heart. I know that from the tales I was told.

My birthday is coming and I also miss Inang. You know, she would be the first person to greet me every time I celebrate my birthday. She never fails to be the first greeter, believe me. She would go downstairs first thing in the morning and greet me and of course bring me cash gift. haha! 😁 Please send her my love and greetings too in heaven.

I dearly miss you Tatang. If there is a time machine where I can travel back in time to see and meet you in person, I would trade anything for it. But maybe all I can do now is write you letters and read them out loud for you to hear. This is the only thing I can do now, to wait for my spoken words to dissolve in thin air until it reaches heaven.

Lots of love from your favorite apo,

Neris

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