Last week, I went to my hometown for an overnight visit to witness a good friend’s wedding. Before leaving back for Bacolod, I paid Papa a visit.
I was happy to see To (Tito) Exor, a very familiar face in my high school days, driving his tricycle. Yay, he drove me to the cemetery. On our way there, he asked what brought me home at this time of year without my family in tow. I told him about the wedding.
Bakit daw di siya invited? (Hala ka, Ninin! Ha ha)
My friend who happens to be the bride was one of his adoptive kids when we were in high school. So I guess that makes the tampo understandable.
I had no answer to his question so I did what I do best when words do not come to my rescue. That is to smile and keep silent.
Since Papa died, whenever To Exor and I would have the chance to catch up, never was a time that he won’t think out loud why good people had to die ahead of those who seem to deserve to die pronto, i.e criminals, corrupts, addicts.
This was no exception. Only with a backstory this time. He asked if I was aware of my friend’s (the bride’s) health condition years back. He recalled an instance where his tricycle was parked outside our house, my friend and Papa were talking about life’s struggles. I’m sure Papa shared his own but I bet the conversation was mostly about my friend’s condition at the time.
As uncertain and critical was my friend’s diagnosis, Papa- a walking time bomb himself, told my friend,
“Indi mag worry, Day. Kay sugod subong, kami ni tito mo Exor mangamuyo para sa imo. Salig lang. Prayer changes everything.” (Don’t worry. From now on, your Tito Exor and I will pray for you. Have faith. Prayer changes everything.)
Those were Papa’s words as retold by To Exor.
To this day, whenever I hear stories about Papa that I never knew of when he was still around, I can’t help but be amazed of how big a heart my father had. He was just so open, willing and giving.
This year has been a year of many firsts. Of so many breakthroughs. I will hold the enumeration off.
But this would have been what Papa longed for, dreamed of and prayed for fervently. But I have long ago made peace with the truth that no prestige, amount of success or cute grandkids could ever measure to what awaits to God’s faithful when he is called home.
My heart cries more for the legacy that Papa has left. For the faith that he had, and from that faith the fruits start to bear slowly and perfectly.
I had the chance to share this homecoming encounter to Father Ariel Gregorio, one of our family’s dear friends and one of Papa’s beloved priests. And he said it best, “Damo ko kilala nga ga flaunt this and that. Si Manong? Simple lang. Simple lang gid. Pero quality of life? The best. So much unrevealed goodness”.
2016! I fell short many times. Did things that wouldn’t make you proud. I hope this 2017 I will do better. For in doing so, I honor you and Mama.
And in honoring you both I honor the One who deserves all the glory and thanksgiving.
May your legacy not be forgotten and may Jesus’ light shine more in me, in us, in the lives you’ve deeply touched.
I miss you, Papa. I love you. Thank you.