Tatang with some of his boys
My call to my niece today was quite very early. I glanced at my phone when I woke up and found the sad news. Her father-in-law just passed away at the early morning dawn this Christmas Day.
She said that their Christmases from now on would always be so sad because they would always remember that “Tatang” (Tagalog for “father”) died this day. I agreed. How could one deny that?
After the sermon today at mass, the priest with what seemed to be an afterthought mentioned a Christmas card he just received. This was different because inside was a letter from the sender who recently passed away. Posthumously. It looked like the sender was expecting his leaving and so sent the priest a very thoughtful letter. He was not bitter, in fact he was grateful and sounded triumphant.
He wrote that compared to all Christmases he’d had in the past, the best is yet to come. The best one he would get after so many years of a very successful life and career as a teacher and principal. He felt he’s done his share on earth as God asked him to do. Finally as promised him, he would get to meet the Lord and nothing on this earth could beat that. How comforting he wrote that he would be joining his parents whom he knew to be very good people and friends who’ve left ahead of him would be welcoming him.
The story about the content of the letter was great timing. It was so unexpected and yet in my mind resonated very well with my niece’s predicament. If she and her new family all looked at it in this perspective, this sad event in their lives could turn to be a happy one. Their father is going to be with his Creator. What a great honor to be called to heaven on his birthday.
I met Tatang briefly during our short vacation in Chesapeake this summer. His home was with his son Jun and my niece but during our stay, he was moved to one of his other sons so he could have constant company while they were busy with us. We didn’t want to displace him but I did understand their reasoning. Besides we would be a distraction to his everyday quiet life.
There were a couple of occasions when we all gathered together with him. I could remember his ever present smile. He explained that he had difficulty talking but he tried to be a gracious host – his eyes twinkled as he talked. His daughter mentioned that he would ask to go to the grocery only to badger her to buy items for our breakfast. She sent us bagfuls of groceries paid for by their father – eggs, sausages and bacon. Always thinking of his children. Am sure he would have wanted to be the perfect host had he been younger and stronger.
I immediately liked him. I could sense his kindness and sincerity. I have an affinity for people like him – proud of his children, generous with a gentle heart. What a great father he was, he was well respected and well-loved. What he didn’t say he said with his eyes. Sometimes language need not be vocalized. You could sense in their actions and tiny nuances their sincerity and what’s in their heart. They speak louder than words if you look very well.
To “Tatang” – rest in peace. Have a merry Christmas in heaven!
Sadness only come with regrets for things one thought you could have done. As a parent, their children could do no wrong. To Tatang’s family, may your hearts be filled with happy memories of your father every Christmas. The many joys and blessings he’s shared, the wonderful memories. There should be no sadness in the next Christmases to come.