F A T H E R

The worst situation a person could experience in his/her life is losing a loved
one, more specifically, a “Father”. They are called the “Foundation of the
family.” A role model of every genuine child, and the greatest example of
endurance and life-long learning. There are questions that are hard to answer
when a person experiences this specific situation: “What do you feel when you
have grown without a father?”, “How is it to be in a broken family?”, “Why did
your parents separate?”, “Why did your father left you?”, or “How is it to be
an adopted child in a family?”. Then these questions kept me hanging:
“How do you see you life in the future?”, “How did you manage to grow up with
4 half-sisters and 2 half-brothers?”, “Then why are you the one who has a
different father?”. If “fathers” are the foundation of the family, compare it
to a structure of a building. A building without a “foundation” will easily
stumble and fall. That’s how it looks like a family without a father.

I am Lea Alyssa Verano Aquino, grew up fatherless. I saw my mother persevere
and endure just to raise up a girl like me, all by herself. I thought, I would
never had a chance to see my father ever since the day I was born. My mother
is the only one who held me on the delivery room on the 29th of June. There
was no “father” who taught me how to walk with my tiny little feet and never
taught me how to ignore guys who are trying to court me at 3rd grade. I grew
up never trusting a man. I hate men because I thought all of them are like
my dad, who will abandon me with hatred and anguish. I have a big trust on
myself that I can do it alone. My classmates in grade school teases and laughs
at me whenever my teacher would ask me what’s the name of my “father” and I
can’t even state any name. They also always tease me because I am inconsistent
in answering their questions like “Where is your father?”, “Is he dead?”, or
“Have he gone to another house?”. Sometimes, I answer “He is in Saudi”,
“He died”, and the worst, “I don’t know him.” After all those soul-shattering
questions, I would run the restroom and cry until my nose has bled blood, then
my teacher accompanies me to the clinic. Before dismissal, I tidy up myself
only to hide from my grandmother the emotions that I have poured out earlier
at school.

Year 2011, I’m already in 5th grade. This is one of the most depressing year
of my life. First, my family and I were kicked out of the apartment we had been
renting for 10 years. Second, my 1 year old brother was diagnosed of ADHD.
Third, the typhoon swept out almost every thing in our house. Fourth,
my mother lost her job. And last, my sister and me almost stopped studying
for that school year because we don’t have enough money to survive a day.
We lived at our uncle’s house in Calamba, Laguna who had a very greedy wife
who doesn’t let us eat with them. We barely ate one bread for the whole day.
I also experienced sleeping at the streets because my school is in Alabang,
Muntinlupa so that I oculd continue my studies. I cried and begged for the bus
conductors so that I could go back to Calamba, and many more. Those situations
led my mother to ask help to my father who was living in Canlubang, Laguna
which is 3 kilometers away from my uncle’s house. I can still remember, that
day was 13th of february, a day before Valentine’s day. I went on with my
mother to my father’s house. I thought, I’d be happy that I would be going to
see him for the first time. At the last kilometer of walk, thoughts, hatred,
anger, feeling of being lost, name it! I felt it that it crept in my heart and
mind. As we got nearer and knocked the door, my grandfather welcomed us with
joy and excitement because that was the first time he saw his eldest
granddaughter. In response, I smiled awkwardly to show excitement in return,
but deep inside of me, I wanted to cry. A part of me kept asking myself,
“Why now? Can’t it be tomorrow?” I can’t contain the anxiety and pride that is
trying to devour that “happy memory.”

I can hear something from upstairs, a door was opened, someone was woke up,
someone was going to meet me, that person was called by my grandfather and
grandmother in the same house instructing him to go to the living room at once.
I know it was him. My father. My long lost father.

That time I saw his face, my world slowed down, my heart beat so fast, my mind
was shooked, and I can’t feel myself. That one man, that man who left me and
my mother since I was born. That man who would have taught me how to walk,
how to write, how to speak, how to interact, how to love a man, how to love
a family, how to cherish a person. That man who didn’t had the guts to prove
me one. That man ran to me. He immediately carried me, kissed my on my cheek,
and endlessly saying “I love you Alyssa” to me. I didn’t know what to respond,
or what to feel. I bursted out, I felt nothing, but tears started to roll down
in my eyes. Nevertheless, my eyes were staring at the people around in that
very room, and all of them, my relatives, were crying, because it was their
first time to see their first granddaughter, their eldest child in their lives.

My father told me everything he could for two hours. He told me that it is my
mom who left him. They tried to find me all around the town of Alabang, but
they found nothing. After three years of searching, they gave up. He started to
have his own family in Mindanao. He gave up. What did I do is just listen. I
never said a single word. I am totally overwhelmed. The only phrase that I had
left him was “Advance happy valentine’s.” My mother and I left in 5 in the
afternoon. It was the first time, and it may be the last time that we will meet.

Fast forward. Two years after, I came to know Jesus from a campus missionary.
I understood that Jesus is my Lord and my Savior. That One Father who truly
loves me, the God who is with me wherever I go, the God who teaches me to
forgive and to trust again. Now, I am hoping that someday, if I could have a
chance to meet Him once again, I won’t miss a second.

Maybe, yes, fathers are the foundation of every home. Maybe you have a
different story to tell. Maybe, your dad died while you were younger. Maybe,
your dad left you without any chance of seeing him. Maybe you are adopted or
you have a dad but you can’t feel his presence, and so, be reminded of these.
This is the greatest foundation every family should have, our Father who is
in heaven.

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