To The Greatest Man In My Life…

My Little Girl (Steve Kirwan)

From the moment I first held you

And rocked you to sleep
In my heart I knew
A child is never yours to keep
I knew one day you’d learn to fly
But I never dreamed what I’d feel inside

CHORUS

As I dance the last dance
With my little girl
And the first with the woman
Who’s found her place in the world
I see the woman in you
But for my whole life through
You’ll always be my little girl

You wrapped me ’round your finger
Your smile made me melt
I wished so many times
I would’ve told you what I felt
From your first steps
to sweet sixteen
The rush of memories
feels like a dream

CHORUS

I see the woman in you
But for my whole life through
You’ll always be my little girl

That’s the lyrics from the song that my Uncle Narding and my cousin Ate Melissa danced during her wedding some 4 or 5 years ago. The way they danced it was very heart-rending. Perhaps because we know for a fact that they’re really sweet to each other, like they’re the best pair to interpret that song.

The first time I heard that song, I almost cried. The lyrics and the melody’s just so touching. Back then, I dreamed that one day, i will also dance that song with Papa on my wedding day.

Five years later. No Father-Daughter dance on a wedding day happened between me and Papa. Worst, Papa already packed his physical self away from this world to join the Mighty Creator. So yes, there’s no chance I could ever dance that song again with him on my wedding day. I’m not even sure if that wedding day will happen anytime soon since I haven’t found my future husband yet. Oh well, save that for another post.

Today’s the first birthday of Papa which he’s celebrating with Jesus in heaven. His first birthday ever that he’s physically away from us.

I don’t want to magnify him and say he’s the greatest dad of all just because he’s already gone and it’s his birthday today. In all honesty, my dad’s not at all great in carrying out his role as a father. In fact, we had a lot of misunderstandings before. There were even months when we would not talk to each other over some issues concerning our attitudes. During my college years, I used to detest him. I used to think of him then as ‘epal’ and ‘kontrabida’ in my life’s drama. I also found his reasoning ‘mababaw’ most of the time.

Another thing that I didn’t like about him was his being so ‘mautos’ like even if he could already reach something, he would still call us to get it for him. He was also inconsiderate of our emotions like he would often jest my sister that her cooking’s not good even if he could really finish the entire dish all by himself, or he would tell me i’m not smart enough, etc. Perhaps most of them were just his usual banters but still, if you’re a daughter, of course you would want to hear words of encouragement from your father. Haplessly, my father wasn’t the type and he wasn’t the person you should come to if you need a lift or a boost.

I also didn’t like it that he was inconsiderate of my mom’s ‘pagod’ and her effort to take care of him especially when he’s confined in the hospital. Plus, he’s very ‘kuripot.’ I could barely count with my fingers the times I could remember him giving us money when we asked of him. Most of the time he would say, “tama na. may pagkain nman diyan eh.” or “wag kayong masyadong maluho.”

You see, Papa’s not really your fresh-from-the-Armageddon-movie type of father who’s really ever supportive and sweet to his daughter. Or maybe, he was just not the showy type or he’s not that too transparent of his emotions unlike some fathers. He’s also not the type who would spoil his kids with different stuff. I can’t even remember him buying us a thing that we really liked. He was just not the spoiling type.

Ask me how I feel about it when I was younger and I would answer you with a crisp “i’m just not lucky enough to have a good father.”

But now I could perfectly understand and appreciate my dad’s unique way of raising us up. I’m not saying this because he’s already dead and it’s his birthday today, but because that’s true. That’s a straight from the heart answer from a grown up lady who was able to look beyond the usual banters, inconsiderate side comments, and often irritating ‘utos’ of her father.

Papa’s not at all perfect. In fact, there were a number of times he failed my expectation of a good father. But I wholeheartedly appreciate the way he brought us up to be God-fearing, good, responsible, respectful, selfless, humble, loving, and generous women. If not for his ‘pangaral’ when we were growing up, we wouldn’t be the kind of person we are today. He never failed to remind us of the importance of ‘pakikipag-kapwa-tao.’ I remember he used to tell me that your intelligence is of no use if you don’t know how to treat all people the right way. I used to get mad at him whenever he asked me to help our maid clean the house before. Now, I hold in high regard his unending nudges because I grew up not treating house helps as just mere ‘maids’ or workers but as a real member of the family. And we didn’t grow up feeling like senyoritas because Papa already inculcated in our minds that we’re not, and we’re just mere member of a family who needs to help the other members of the family.

He didn’t spoil us with various stuff when we were growing up because he wanted us to be responsible for our needs. Papa wanted us to appreciate the value of hard work more than the value of money. That’s primarily why we didn’t grow up depending on other people for whatever needs we may have. We asked for help but we didn’t really rely on them totally. Personally, I grew up as an independent woman who knows the importance of being responsible for your own life. All thanks to my parents.

I grew up knowing God and putting Him in the center of my life because of my parents, especially Papa. I value the importance of attending church as a family every Sunday because of him, and that you should not treat the church as a movie house wherein you will arrive late and will just repeat the next mass from where you started.

Papa thought us to be on top of our game all the time. He didn’t encourage mediocrity that’s why he always gave us unnecessary side comments before because he wanted us to strive harder. He wanted us to give our best shot in everything we do.

I appreciate the value of walking and going to places you don’t know through him. If there’s one thing I would really commend my father, that’s his ability to know each and every directions on the road. My dad embodied the real definition of the term ‘street smart.’ He’s not afraid of going to unfamiliar places because he believed there’s always a way out and that you just need to ask for the right directions.

Did I just magnify Papa in this post?

Nope, I didn’t. I just stated real truths about the first greatest man in my life. Those are the things I’ll forever be grateful for.  The father that God blessed me with may not be the best dad this world could ever have, but I am thankful because he was able to raise us to the best he could. He might have gone from this world but the things he taught us, the words he inculcated in us, and the good values he left us with will forever linger in our hearts and minds and will be passed on to posterity.

Happy Birthday Papa Dearest!

Tito Erning* Tito Narding* Papa


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