A few days ago, I helped write the script for a surprise birthday video, one that will show a day in the life of a special dad.
He is a kind man, the kind of man people run to for help, the kind of man who worked his ass off to secure the future of his children and his children’s grandchildren.
I was surprised by how easy it was for me to write the script, considering this man isn’t my father.
If I had to write about a day in my father’s life, it would not have been as easy. I have no idea what he does every day.
All I know is he now lives in a province rumored to be rife with ghosts or aswangs or evil creatures. And that he works in construction. Whether he’s still a contractor or working as a civil engineer, I’m not sure. I don’t know what he eats for dinner. I don’t know where he goes after work. I don’t know who he spends his time with. I don’t know what he does for fun.
All I know is that he’s very busy. At least according to my grandmother. Because when my brother and I were doing extremely late Christmas shopping (December 24, how crazy is that?) and all the other stores were closed, we ended up at a bookstore in an attempt to find a gift for our father.
I called my grandma. “What books does he like to read?”
No books, she said. He’s too busy. Too busy to read.
Too busy to read? Seriously? I’m busy but I always manage to find time to read. Surely my father can too. He poops, doesn’t he? But I didn’t say that.
Luckily, my brother and I found another store that was still open. We bought him a wallet and cologne.
He was in the city for the holidays so we saw him on Christmas, when we went to grandma’s house for lunch. He opened his gifts and loved the wallet. “How did you know I needed a new wallet?”
No, father, we didn’t know.
We stayed for a little while, just sitting around, talking while he ate the chocolates I brought for my grandma.
Then, we said our goodbyes. I haven’t seen him since Christmas.
My grandma says I should have lunch with him the next time he comes to the city.
That’s who my father has become – a man I occasionally have lunch with.
I’m not complaining and I’m feeling no bitterness (except maybe about the house we had to give up) – I’m just telling it like it is.
The truth is, I like my father, I love my father, despite his many flaws. He’s hilarious, he’s generous when capable, he can be a lot of fun. I am not the perfect daughter – far from it – but I think that in his own way, he loves me too.
But he won’t be my first phone call if I were thrown in jail. I leave the country – have left the country countless times – without him knowing. I can make big decisions without consulting him. He’s not and probably won’t ever be my “person to call in case of an emergency.”
Once upon a time, I can’t remember when or where, in some book or in some movie, someone described her father as someone who is “more of an uncle.”
I guess that’s how I feel too.