Dear Lolo Abelardo “Abner” S. Gatmaitan,
First of all let me say that you are SOOOOO UNFAIR. I thought that as a man you know how to keep your promises. It turns out that you can’t. Let me enumerate some of the sweet words you’ve broken:
- You said you were going to attend my first college graduation. I told you I was gonna put my first undergraduate cord around your wrinkled neck…
- You said you were going to re-marry Lola Ninay on your diamond (60th) wedding anniversary. I was anticipating a major celebration (and lots of food of course) then… (Isang taon na lang sana eh! Ano ba.)
- You said you were going to live to see two of my children. I can’t wait to take pictures of you chasing them around the house…
- You said you were going to stay alive until 100+ years old. I really do not believe in superstitions but then again you claimed your two long ears will do the trick…
It has been almost two years since the 4th of January 2009, when I actually witnessed you breathe your last at 3:00 AM, twelve hours before the death of Jesus Christ. How fitting that you decided to move on the Feast of the Epiphany. As the theme of the occasion suggested, it was at the moment of your demise that I realized there are still so many things I want to tell you. While I have heard your World War II youth stories, to your courtship and elopement of Lola Ninay, to how you quit chain-smoking as a wedding gift to your ex-girlfriend, to how you worked your flesh, blood, and bone to be the best father in the world to your children, to how you sold your lands to send your kids to college, to how you became my second father when both my parents have to work in the Middle East during Gulf War I, to how you simply plan to spend the remainder of your years on Earth daydreaming of the past with your wife I have barely told my dreams and aspirations in life to you. (Don’t worry though, though your stories to me are not properly documented, they sparkle brightly in my memory as clear as the stars in the midnight sky.) I wish I could have shared with you even just the beginnings of my quarter-life (and the crisis people label it with).
Do you know, I’m a licensed chemist already? I also got my second undergraduate degree last March. Oh, and I know work at a very prestigious company. Like you, I also dream big — I want to get a PhD before I marry (yes, you taught me to dream dreams which are bigger than yours).
How unfair can you get? Gastric carcinoma huh? I know you can give that stupid moron some one-two-three punch! Why didn’t you? How can you allow your wife to wail the loudest in front of your grave?
Almost two years already. I can’t believe time flew that fast. And within the first year of my mourning, I really felt empty. 2009 was the year I wish not to remember, especially the first half (yes, even though that includes my BS Chemistry graduation). I blame you for that. How unfair can you get, Lolo?
However if there is this one life lesson I will forever remember from you. You taught it to me on your last week on Earth. It was New Year of 2009, and while everyone outside were enjoying the festivities, our clan was locked up around you in sadness. We know you’ll be joining God pretty soon, but we wanted you to wait for your son who was going to arrive that day. You never failed him. You chose to extend your life to three more days so you can utter your proper farewell blessing and greeting to him.
Salamat. Berting. Yes, this two-liner is simply the sweetest.
You are so unfair, still. Ninong Berting was attempting to reach your hand when you lifelessly let it go. Literally. :( How mean can you get?
I might be going home to Malolos City this weekend again. That time, I’ll see that portrait showing an old white-haired man in glasses with the following words:
Abelardo S. Gatmaitan: 26 August 1926 – 4 January 2009
I don’t know how to react. But surely, I’m assured that while you are not physically present at home, you are somewhere in a place any man alive can never fully picture. Hopefully 80 to 100 years from now I can get to join you. I’ll be blaming you non-stop on how unfair you were.
I SUPER MISS YOU LOLO,
Ang pinakamamahusay mong apo. Mana sa iyo eh.
PS: How unfair can you get? Through this blog, you drained all my happy emotions away. :(