From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."


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Things He Never Taught Me

He never taught me how to ride a bicycle, maybe because he was afraid that I would fall and scrape my knee when he lets go of the handle. He knew I was a fraidy cat. He would not teach me how to ride a bike until he was sure that I was ready and he could let go of me.

He never taught me how to play chess, although he was very good at it, perhaps because he wanted me to learn more important things in life.

He never taught me how to draw, though he was a gifted artist. I used to ask why I couldn’t draw like him. He said I was good at singing, and that is one talent I should develop.

He never taught me to hold my tears like a big girl. He let me cry when I was hurt, sat me on his lap, listened to what I had to say, and let me cry some more… and when it seemed that I felt better, he’d smile and say things that would make me giggle.

He never taught me how a young lady should act, or reprimanded me for wearing lipstick or a mini-skirt. He accepted me the way I am. He was proud of me and what I turned out to be.

He never taught me pride. Instead, he taught me humility. While most parents want their children to be like them, he told me not to be like him and make the same mistakes that he did. He was my hero as a child, but he made me realize that not all heroes are perfect, but all of them “protect”, especially the ones they love.

There are some things my Dad never had the chance to teach me, or maybe he did not teach them on purpose, but I’m grateful that he did not teach me everything I could have learned easily… or I would have forgotten them so swiftly.

You see, Daddies don’t teach you everything. You read between the lines. You learn some things on your own. You learn as you grow older. You learn when they’re gone and then you remember… Oh, that’s what he was trying to instill in me all along.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY.

I MISS YOU EVERY MOMENT OF MY LIFE.

I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH…

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Letting Go and Starting Over

There are two things in life that I consider the most difficult to do: letting go and starting over.

*** FIRST LESSON ON LETTING GO ***

My Daddy taught me my first lesson on letting go. I was a little girl then. He bought me a pet bird, a Maya bird (sparrow) which was kept in a small rattan cage. I have wanted to have a pet like that from the first time my Mom took me to Apo church in Angeles City and I saw Maya birds being sold outside the church. It took a lot of convincing to have my Dad buy me one.

Finally, when I got what I wanted, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. The first thing I did was to give the bird food, but it wouldn’t eat anything. All it did was to chirp and flap its wings, but the cage was too small that there wasn’t enough room to  fully open its wings.  My Daddy told me to let it out for a while, but I was afraid it would fly away and I would never be able to catch it, so I kept it confined in its small cage, thinking it would get used to it, and it would be fine as long as I took good care of it. I thought I was right. It didn’t chirp as much as before, but it would poke its tiny beak into the holes of its small cage as if finding a way to free itself. No matter what food I gave, it still would not eat.

I was worried that it would die of hunger, and Daddy said that it would if I kept it any longer. He said Maya birds are more fragile than other birds because they are too small, and any bird kept in a cage gets lonely and weak. I would never forget that day he urged me to take the bird out of its cage and set it free, and as it flew away, Daddy was singing one of Freddie Aguilar‘s patriotic songs about a bird that is meant to fly but when caged, it cries and yearns for freedom. The bird (in the song “Bayan Ko“) is actually a metaphor for our country when the Philippines was under American occupation and Marcos dictatorship. To me, the bird is a metaphor of the things in life that we choose to let go of.

I was barely 7, a child who was very fond of her first pet. I cried when I held that bird and gave it to Daddy… and as it flew out of the window, I cried even more… but I understood why I had to do that… why I had to set the bird free… why I had to let go of something that was dear to me. At a tender age, Daddy made me realize that there are some things in life we can’t keep forever.

No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed;
Lay that on your heart,
My young angry dear;
This truth, this hard and precious stone,
Lay it on your hot cheek,
Let it hide your tear.
Hold it like a crystal
When you are alone
And gaze in the depths of the icy stone.
Long, look long and you will be blessed:
No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed.

(“Advice to a Girl,” by Sara Teasdale )

*** THE MOST PAINFUL PART OF LETTING GO ***

I always thought my Dad was the strongest man in the world. I witnessed him at his best and at his lowest. I saw him fall, lose everything that mattered to him the most, and despite a hundred defeats, I watched him try to rise and redirect his misguided course. I thought, because he was strong, he could overcome anything, but not even the strongest man in the world could overcome his demise. Daddy passed away when I was 19, two years before my university graduation day which he promised he would attend.

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Daddy… I had so many dreams I wanted him to be part of. For a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to accept that he’s gone, and the only things that remain are memories.

Anyone who has lost somebody he loves would tell you that once you have lost a loved one, life will never be the same again. Yes, there would be healing after months or years of grieving… but there will always be  a part of you that is empty. It is never easy to let go, but the most painful part of it is WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU LET GO… the process called MOVING ON or STARTING OVER.

*** MOVING FORWARD ***

“Time heals all wounds”, they say. True, but of course, there are also family and friends, prayers, faith in God and in yourself. I cannot imagine what my life would have become after losing my Daddy without the patience, love and good example my Mom has shown me. I never showed my Mom how I cried every night every time I missed my Dad. When I had my first MAJOR heartbreak and I let go of the man who caused it, I never told my Mom how I was hurting. I kept my feelings from her, but she knew… I know she knew… and yet she never forced me to talk about things I wanted buried in my heart. She was hurting, too, but instead of showing me her pain, she showed me her smile, her vibrance, her optimism. She made me laugh; she’s such an “animated” person. She talked about “life” and how to deal with it–the joys and sufferings that make us STRONGER–without sounding like a preacher. Her words of encouragement helped me heal.

When Mommy lost the man she loves, despite the tears she sometimes used to hide from me and my sister, she tried to make her life and our life “normal” again. She inspired me to do the same when I was at my life’s turning point.  Because of the strength I saw in her, I learned that the best weapon against pain and life itself is COURAGE… and the best way to start over is to MOVE FORWARD and NEVER LIVE IN REGRET FOR THE PAST. Once you decide to start over, you really mean it… you don’t hold on to what cannot be undone. No matter how the heart aches, no matter how many tears you shed, no matter how difficult, you advance like a soldier who doesn’t look back at the wreck.

When you can’t tell your heart’s woes to your parents, you’ve always got your friends… real friends. I am blessed to have, not only a supportive family, but loyal and caring friends. Our way, however, was not having an open forum or a heart-to-heart talk from which we would all discuss our sadness and failed relationships. We tried to have fun to forget our problems: watched movies or went shopping together, and when we felt better, we talked about “the serious things” over coffee or cocktail. Problems don’t turn out to be as heavy as they truly are when you don’t dwell on them too much… and when you are having fun with a bunch of friends, that’s exactly what you do… NOT DWELLING ON THE PROBLEM.

I believe in the power of prayers. I have proven them to be effective many times in my life. Some scientists associate prayers with the electromagnetic fields theory or other studies based on the placebo effect or power of the human mind… but mine is pretty simple. I pray because there is a God who listens, and with Him NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE (The Holy Bible, Luke 1:37).

Now you might say: Who is this woman who speaks as if she’s some sort of Dr. Phil or an author wannabe of Chicken soup for the Soul?  Let me give you three answers: First, I respect Dr.Phil and what he does to help troubled people, but I don’t like him; second, I have read too much Chicken Soup for the Soul and I aspire to be one of the contributors in the book; third, I am speaking as somebody just like you, who has let go of many things in life, and is now starting over. Isn’t that what life is about for most of us? We bid the past farewell and we welcome life anew.

God bless us all! C’est la vie! ^^