We Love You and Miss You, Papay
In the later years of his life, I had frequently seen my Grandfather by the window looking outside - quiet, in deep thought. But those moments of solitude were often broken by the little chuckles of my younger cousins. They would play around him, and Papay (as what I dearly called my Grandpa) would play with them with the little strength that he had. Those moments would lighten-up his almost always melancholic face.
In my recent visits at home, such sight would welcome me. I would get his hand and place it on my forehead (or mano, Filipinos way of showing respect to elders and somehow, asking and getting their "blessings"). Then I would lovingly present to him my pasalubong - his favorite, hopia. I grew up seeing him always working in the fields and almost always exhausted at the end of the day and watching TV was his way of relaxation. If I could only turn back time, I would love to sit with him and listen to his own childhood stories - things I only hear from my aunts and uncles because Papay was just not the story-telling type of a grandfather. I am not the the typical granddaughter either, and our relationship wasn't filled with concrete manifestation of affection. But I know that he knew how much I love him even in my simple expressions of love.
A couple of weeks ago, he was brought to the hospital and stayed in the intensive care unit for ten days due to hypertension. Our whole family prayed for his recovery. I prayed that he would regain his strength. I missed seeing him smile with the little kids around. And I missed it when he would look straight up to me through his cloudy eyes and still able to recognize that I am Joyce, Nelia's daughter.
Last week, June 6, Papay passed away after he was brought home. It was heartbreaking. But then I believe that Papay is happily resting in the arms of God right now. He has lived a simple but full life with us. I know that until his last breath, he was able to feel the immense love we have for him. He was such a great man - very hardworking, gentle and humble. I never heard anyone in the family complain about his character. I had never seen him get angry. He was especially good at farming - he was able to produce the best crops and grow "giant" pineapples larger than the biggest human head. And these he used to send his children to school with the help of my Grandmother who's a teacher by profession.
This Sunday is Father's Day, and we are supposed to celebrate Papay's birthday. No one remembers his exact birthday because his family's personal records were destroyed during the war and he lived and grew up with his extended relatives. So his children decided that it's fitting to celebrate on Father's Day because that's how he was - a good father through and through. Incidentally, this Saturday (a day before Father's Day) we'll be paying our last respects to a great father and grandfather. The head of the family who sacrificed everything just so his wife and children and even his grandchildren could live well.
We will miss you, Papay. Your humility, sense of humor, gentleness and diligence will never be forgotten. We love you so much and you will always be in our prayers.