Farewell, Tatay Gene

April 15th, 2010

g25432William Shakespeare captured life’s essence when he wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

We all say hello and goodbye one time or another. Like a storyline, there’s always a beginning and an end.

While patiently waiting for my bus in Naga to take me to Manila, I see faces that poignantly speaks of hidden stories — mother half-smiling, half crying as she peeks through the bus’ window and wishes her daughter well; lovers locking eyes and arms with the hope of instantly blurring an impending farewell; families smiling from ear to ear as they expectantly awaits a member’s arrival. My habit to “people watch” whenever I travel undeniably allows me to ponder what’s behind those faces. I think it is significant because in the process, it also permits us to revisit our own selves. And I wish to emphasize that part of our selves which we are too scared to confront. Gray areas and personal taboos we don’t want to acknowledge. Those that we can laugh off but never really erase simply because they’re indelible — just like the idea of death.

Hello moments are often happy moments. The birth of a child for instance, or one’s acceptance to a great job, can uplift the soul to a higher level. On the other hand, goodbye moments are often associated with sadness or mourning. What could be more devastating than when one loses a favorite possession, a friend or a loved one?

My father-in-law, Tatay Gene, who had been very good to me and my children, just said goodbye. However, I was in Bicol when he died so I had to be home immediately to pay my last respect. It was sad knowing I didn’t see him breathing if only for the last time.

People come and go. We have been joined by so many yaya’s and relatives but all of them became best friends with him. Maybe some of them left with ill feelings towards me or my husband but never with Tatay Gene. He’s such a good man that he never remarried after his wife (my husband’s mother) died some 28 years ago. Instead, he devoted his entire life to his six children. Proof of it was the fact that all his children finished school. I also met his nephew, Kuya Alex, and I wasn’t surprised he only have kind words to tell.

Tatay Gene, you may not be able to read this, but I thank you with all my heart and I am sorry if I have offended or made you sad somehow. I know I hadn’t been a perfect daughter-in-law. Whereever you are, please know how proud we are to have witnessed a life well-spent! Yours.

Travel well ‘Tay and please guide us as we face our own hellos and goodbyes. We will miss you and your fatherly grin; your kind gestures; your rationing us fresh vegetables; the sweet potato, ginger, bell pepper, string beans you always loved planting at the rooftop, the sacks of rice you give us for free every time you harvest your palays; the coconuts from the trees you planted; every little thing you did to make your grandchildren Elmo and Faith’s childhood memorable; the cigarette butts you left unintentionally at the sofa; the coffee and coffee mate you buy when our cupboard runs empty; the cabinets you made for free; the wall paints you applied (again, for free); your listening to “haranas” and news updates from your old and battered transistor radio; your watching boxing fights especially those of Pacquiao’s; the visits you made at our house/dorm in Cabanatuan, PRRM, and CLSU; the hot pandesals, the wooden kubo upstairs, the pails of waters you fetched when I gave birth to my eldest. My list is long. I have more to write and the space is not enough. Fare well, Tay! You will be missed.

(Note: This was written in March 28, two days before my father in law’s burial but was only published today since my husband asked that he be allowed to break the news to friends. Yet, up until today he didn’t blog about it.)

One Response to “Farewell, Tatay Gene”

  1. taribong Says:

    My sincerest condolences to you and your entire family. I know your Tatay Gene would be truly missed as I also really miss my own mother. Thanks for sharing.

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