Journey -A Tale of Two Men
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This is a Father’s Day salute to the two men who figure prominently in my life. My journey with my husband is at its zenith, while my father’s journey has gone on without me and is on the wane. He is without his life’s partner. My mother passed away in September last year. That singular event seems to have let the air out of his life balloon.
A Bet Began a Journey
My husband won me on a bet, yet he is not a betting man. He thinks and plans and plots. That’s what makes him a good husband and provider. He does not leave things to chance.
It has been a journey that began with that bet through adventures that brought us half a world away; through our bargain-basement wedding; and through white knuckle times waiting for results of exams that made it possible for him to progress to the next levels of his training. We lived through year after year of near poverty while he worked towards a day when he is able to say ‘I work here. This is my office, my future.’
The shingle has been up and running since February 1981. I became his Girl Friday. We learned how to tip toe around the mine fields that continue to plague the medical field. It is a testimony to his resilience that he is still here, plodding on despite and in spite of the uncertainties around him.
But where did those years go? Three decades could not have gone seemingly in a blink of an eye yet that is precisely how it feels. Day after day you suffer through the grind and nothing seems to change. Then one day you look back and everything has. You look at the face staring back at you from the mirror and that reflection is unrecognizable. We now have three grandsons who remind us of the passing of time.Still, Mitchcontinues to plot and plods on and stays several steps ahead. Nothing left to chance.
I have since resigned my post as his second-in-command. I am following a dream. I intend to be a published author someday. When herealized how serious I was in pursuing that dream, he gave his blessings. And with a wink gave me this request if I write about him, make him drop dead handsome.
Well, my darling, you are that and much, much more. You are a hero to our children and to me.
Journey on the Wane
My papang harbored animpatience to soar to anywhere, to everywhere. Adventure. He wanted to see the world, experience the different cultures, taste the different foods, and explore the different moods of the four corners of the world. The Philippine Air Force gave him a little of that adventure. But he would have been happier in academia than in the military. He dreamed of someday writing a book. He is intelligent and cerebral. He is a voracious reader who opened the door to my lifelong love of reading and adventure.
I have an abiding vision of my fatherthat endured through the decades -he is sitting on a comfortable club chair, a smile on his lips, holding a volume of his favorite book.
He was eager to connect as many dots as he could. It was almost a compulsion.
When I was about 13 years old he gave me a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Itbecame my all-time favorite novel. I was too young and ignorant of life a continent away so the many references to Brooklyn life and the hardships of the ghettos were alien to me. Nonetheless, I felt such an affinity with Francie.
Papang is now living like a hermit. His body has betrayed him. It does not function as it used to. His mind wanders. And he is tired. I wrote this poem in one of my somber moods.
your loving hand
when I drew from your strength
you fought my battles
you cleaned my room
when you dried my tears
when you spanked my bottom
you made things right
made engines hum and
broken things well
I feel wretched for
your unsung songs
and the words you left unsaid
the unborn visions
of your failed thoughts
andyour broken dreams
winter is here
the trees of your mind are bare
the horizon is barren
but I remember.
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