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It’s that time of the year again. August is so special to us because we almost have the same birthday. It’s the second year that we’re celebrating Papa’s birthday today in Heaven. We lost him Dec 2018 after courageously battling cancer. My birthday is tomorrow, Aug. 10. So that alone, my father and I share a special bond.
I am sharing my father’s wedding speech video for the first time even though our wedding was Dec 2016. Why? Because this is the most precious memory I had with him in my entire life. Maybe because I wasn’t really able to spend much of my life with him. He left us to work in Saudi Arabia when I was in 1st Grade and my parents separated when I was in High School. Even on his last breath, we were not together. He died (still) in Saudi Arabia after sacrificing and working hard for 25 years as VP for Finance.
The moment he held the microphone, I knew everybody that night was waiting for this moment and prepared for a tear-jerking scene. I realized I got my communication skills from him- the drama and humor in our flair of writing and the ability to engage with the audience during speeches.
As a pro, he managed to keep it cool (at least at the beginning) and cracked a little joke:
“While Elaine (that’s my childhood name) was growing up…THOUGH SHE STOPPED SOMEWHERE!”
(Because) I STAND ONLY 4 FT. AND A HALF INCHES TALL!
“No seriously, I missed…maybe all of her birthdays. Lots of important occasions in her life…Those precious memories I can never get back”.
“So I made a vow. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, I GOTTA WALK MY DEAREST DAUGHTER DOWN THE AISLE!”
Even though we haven’t spent much time together, there was a time when he went home and had a short vacation. Short but it seemed the longest one when he got disappointed and so furious with me! It was A WEEK! One week of silent treatment and as if I never exist! Wondering why? He found a love letter hidden under my pillow! I don’t know about other countries but in the Philippines, when you learned that your daughter had a boyfriend at the age of 11, that is something to be furious about!
I guess that was not the only time I disappointed him. I was engaged not once, not twice but THRICE! (Hello Paris Hilton!) When Dino (my husband) came into my life (thank you God!) He didn’t want to meet him anymore. I was so miserable!
“…With tears in her eyes, I still remember that… WHY ARE YOU CRYING??? YOU WILL JUST INTRODUCE A GUY!”
And the audience laughed because probably they imagined how desperate I was, not to mention being known as a drama queen!
“With father instinct, I knew by then, Elaine will soon get married”
NO MATTER WHAT
I always knew Papa was longing of that night to come. Maybe because he was eager to fulfill his promise to walk with me in the aisle.
But on our wedding day, I remembered he was touching his stomach. He told me that his stomach was painful. I could never forget that scene at the hotel before our wedding ceremony. I told him to eat first, maybe he was just hungry. He said I shouldn’t be worried because that day was my day and should enjoy it. Little did we know, that pain during my wedding day was the start of his cancer battle.
“I remember Elaine’s song: “FINALLY, ELAINE FOUND SOMEONE! And as for me, I FINALLY FULFILLED MY VOW TO WALK MY DAUGHTER DOWN THE AISLE.”
the imperfect HUSBAND’S ADVICE
“Marriage, as you will see, is not a bed of roses. There will be rough roads ahead. It’s up to you guys, BUT I GOTTA CROSS THE ROAD. It’s hard to be a perfect husband or a perfect wife”.
Perhaps, one of the reasons why my father’s speech seemed so intense during my wedding day, was because everybody at the wedding knew that “he left us”.
I couldn’t forget that day when he told us that “he is ending it” with my mother. I still remember that was during our final exams. It was tough! Hard to sink it in. Tough to accept. In fact, I refused to accept it. Thereafter, it was the most difficult phase of my family. Unlike other kids who loathed their parents after doing that, I never held a grudge against my father. Was it painful? It certainly was! Did I forgive him straightaway? Of course not!
Perhaps, it was my deep love and longing for him that kept me forgiving. And no matter what, he is my father.
When I and my siblings met him again after 3 years from the day he “broke the news”, we never talked about it. We missed each other so much that we didn’t allow any form of hatred and bitterness to consume us. I had so many “why’s” in my mind but they just remained stuck there forever.
I guess, my father was right. Life, not only marriage, will have lots of rough roads ahead. Either we stay stuck in the middle of the road or cross the path. And it’s up to us how we build our lives once we crossed it-MOVE ON AND LIVE ANEW OR LIVE IN DARKNESS.
And during our father and daughter dance, I get to hear the words I never expected to hear on my wedding day.
“I’m sorry if I had to leave you. But I want you to know I’m so proud of you”.
He knows he’s long been forgiven. But he used that precious time to tell me. I just told him I missed him because it’s true. I really missed him and even told him I never had the chance to hug him like that. It took me 3 failed engagements and to meet Dino for me to be able to dance with him and hug him that tight.
“Love each other. Dino is so kind”.
A FATHER’S LOVE, NO MATTER WHAT
“So Elaine, my dearest daughter, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! Be a loving wife to Dino. And Dino my new son, be a responsible husband to Elaine. And welcome to the Velasquez Family”!
A father is said to be the first man in a daughter’s life, the first man to show her what love is. He makes a huge impact on her daughter’s life. I’m thankful that even though I never had the chance to be with my father each day he made a positive one on mine. He has always been there whenever I needed him or even when I don’t.
I wanna tell the world that even if we’re not together as a family, he was always there as a Father to me. I could always confide almost everything with him- my fears, my mistakes, my successes, my failures. He always listened and guided me while dancing in my joys and being a pillar of support in my hard times.
He was the one who introduced me to the world of letters and words, making writing a passion. I slowly started developing my taste and style only to discover that my passion is all for the glory of God using me to inspire and to share His great love for us.
Tears roll down my cheeks as I write this. I couldn’t contain my emotions of how I miss you. Thank you for keeping your promise, no matter what.😢
Thank you for everything Papa. Know that YOU ARE A GOOD FATHER!
Happy Birthday in Heaven Papa. I love you so much!