“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
― Umberto Eco,
Today would have been my father’s 68th birthday.
I am writing this as we prepare to go to the cemetery to bring him flowers and pray for him and stay there for a little while.
My father was an extra-ordinary man. He wasn’t rich, he didn’t drive a fancy car or even own one, he didn’t have a high-paying job either.
So what makes him special?
He was special because of the number of people whose lives he touched. Since I was a kid, I’ve seen people, relatives, friends, and colleagues of his reach out to him for advice and counseling every time they have problems and I saw how these same people tried to repay his kindness when he passed away.
During his wake, everyone had their own “Carlos Rosos story” and they shared it perhaps as a testament to how great my dad was when he was alive and well. It made me proud of him even more seeing him through the eyes of these people.
I can still vividly remember the night he passed to this day and I must say, that was perhaps, the most painful experience I’ve ever gone though.
He was already in a coma on the night of May 5th 2003 and we all knew that he will be gone at any moment after spending months tied on a bed because of renal failure brought about by his diabetes. I was beside him watching television while at the same time, checking on him from time to time.
I called my mom when I noticed he stopped breathing and they all started crying as we held him all together. My grandma (my dad’s mother) was there with us and perhaps having already accepted her son’s fate, she uttered:
“You can go now son. We’ll be all okay. Everything’s taken care of. Now go and begin your journey.”
As if on cue, my father breathed his last breath, a big one this time because his whole body moved. And just like that, he was gone.
My father was everything to me. He was also a friend, a confidante, a buddy and an advisor. I lost all of those people that night.
What’s strange was that not a single tear fell from my eyes during that moment. I guess I was still in denial, I don’t know. It all sunk in when I saw him in the casket. That’s when I broke down.
All of the good times we shared flashed back before my eyes after seeing that casket being wheeled inside our house. I remembered the jokes we cracked on one another, the nights we watched wrestling together, and the snacks we had every time I visited him at work.
It hit me that all of those are now gone. I’m not gonna be able to see him or talk to him again. Ever.
Despite his early departure, my dad has left me a wealth of lessons. Lessons that will benefit my children. Lessons I want to share with you.
Stand for what is right and just
One of my dad’s staff, let’s just call him Dan, used to freelance as an electrician. There were weekends when he was at our house fixing the component, the electric fan, and at one time our television. Dan grew to be close friend of the family because he was our go-to guy when it comes to everything electronics.
I was surprised to learn one day that he and my dad had a falling out and that he was suing my dad and the company because of wrongful termination.
I asked my father why he fired Dan and being close confidantes, he told me what happened. I learned that Dan left his post and went AWOL because he was having an affair with another woman outside of his wife.
My dad said they may be friends but work is work and that if you did something wrong, friend or not, he will do what’s necessary.
Dan probably expected my dad to back him up because of their close relationship but my father gained my admiration more with the way he handled the situation. For him there were no favors or friends when it comes to the truth and when it comes to what’s right.
Don’t fear death
Prior to being bed-ridden, my dad’s health slowly deteriorated. He lost a lot of weight, his eyesight became blurred to the point where he was barely able to recognize someone by merely looking at them. The worst one though, were his kidneys failing.
It was a Saturday morning when we learned of the sad news. His doctor told us that his creatinine levels were skyrocketing and that there was no other option but to proceed with dialysis.
I can remember my dad’s reaction when he heard his doctor say it. He cringed.
“No” he said.
“I would rather die than go through it.” he followed up.
My mom and I looked at each other and we told the doctor that we will talk about it. When we got home, we sat down as a family and we tried to convince my dad to go with the treatment to prolong his life.
“I’m not afraid to die. If it’s my time then so be it.” he said.
“But we can’t just stand and watch you die dad.” I replied.
He thought about it and eventually, he agreed.
That was my dad for you. He was brave and ferocious even to the very end.
I still question myself to this day if we did the right thing. Dialysis made him weaker and sometimes, I wish we would have listened to him and not let him go through it. The only benefit it got us was that it gave us more time to prepare ourselves for the worst.
Marry young so you’d have more time with your kids
Most parents would like to see their kids marry at a later age but my dad was different. Before I got married, we had this conversation about my then girlfriend who would become my wife.
“If you’re sure about her, marry her. Don’t wait long. At least when you have kids, you’ll be able to spend more time with them because you’re still young.”
He wasn’t sick yet when he said this but I think he already had an inkling that he would not last long to see all of his grandkids.
It’s one of those I-want-you-to-experience-something-I-never-did kind of conversation and I’m glad I listened to his advice because I’ve never been happier in all my life until I became a father.
When he died, one of his closest friends told us that he often told them that he can already die once he get to see his first grandchild. I am happy he got his wish.
Protect your dignity
One of the things I admire about my dad was the way his bosses trusted him. There are employees of higher position who should be entrusted with some of the things they let him do but they still chose him over them.
One of his bosses even made him his regular lunch companion.
So I asked my dad one time why they trusted him so much,
“Because I have a clean record son. I never cheated nor stole anything from them even when I had the chance to do it.” he said.
Apparently, some of the higher-ups there succumbed to greed and got corrupted.
What my father said resonated on me and I’ve made sure that from that moment on, I would live my life with integrity and honesty.
Family always comes first
Even though my dad didn’t finish college, he was very smart and his management skills were top-notch. He had the potential to work abroad and earn a lot more money but every time the opportunity knocked, he always rejected it.
He would often get off work early just to watch my games and I really appreciated it. It’s the best feeling to see your loved ones support you and make time for you.
For him, family should always come first. No amount of money will ever be worth the happiness enjoyed by a family intact.
I’m very much like him on this aspect. For me time is of the essence and that I can never get back lost time. I want to spend as much time as I can with my family while I still can because when my dad died, that’s when I first realize how short life was. It’s when I realized that we had to make the most out of what we have while we have them.
Over to You
What lessons have your fathers taught you? Are you even speaking to them still?
If the answer is no, reach out to him, tell him you love him and spend time with him while there’s still time. You don’t know how lucky you are to still have one.
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