I was used to being different: the youngest in the bunch, the one with the unique name, the one who has never met her own father. Most of my childhood had been spent without a Dad, and I had been content with it. I had my Mom, my grandparents, my uncles, my aunts, my cousins: people who loved and cared for me. Even without a father, my childhood was never lacking.
Back then, the future I imagined consisted of just me and my Mom.
I didn’t know then that my future was already expanding when my mother met you. (Let me save the internist love story for another day.) When I first met you, I barely looked at you because I was completely jealous. In my young mind, my mother belonged to me and to me alone. I didn’t want to share.
But you managed to thaw my defenses quite easily, Dad. That first time we went to a zoo, you held my hand because I was scared of the reptiles which were out of their cages. That time we went to the Dino Expo, you carried me in your arms because I was frightened by the enormous dinosaur models with moving tails. (Who wouldn’t be? They were huge.) That first time I rode a roller coaster, you carried me again because I was crying and too shell-shocked to even move after the ride. That time during my recognition in third grade, you promised to buy me a bronze medal because I was furious that my school only awarded a ribbon for the Third Honor. You never did buy me a medal, but the thought placated me. It’s the thought that counts, after all. There were so many instances in my childhood which you completed with your presence, and gradually, I realized how much I wanted a father because of you. I was a child who pretended to be strong by thinking she didn’t need a Daddy, because she had Mommy and everyone else. But you, Dad, made me see how much I’d been missing.
You had to put up with becoming a father all of a sudden―you didn’t even have the usual nine months with which to prepare yourself emotionally―and you never complained. And I couldn’t say I wasn’t a difficult child: I was easily angered, lazy, a crybaby and a brat sometimes. But you accepted me along with my mother. And you have loved both of us ever since.
You see, Dad, this is how you saved, and continue to save, my mother and I.
Not just because you enveloped the two of us and built a family with us. Not just because you created a happy home with kids and dogs for us to live in. Not just because you choose to leave the country every other month for work in order to provide for us. Not just because you want to give us what we need and more. Not just because you want us to be happy.
It’s because you love us, Daddy. Completely, unreservedly, unconditionally.
There is so much in this world I have had the privilege to experience because you are my father. Like the way you care for me whenever you drive me to school or fetch me despite the hassle of traffic jams and the gas expenditure, despite the fact that I can commute on my own. The way you believe in me, especially in my academics, even when I stumble. The way you are patient with me and the rocky path I am traversing towards my future. The way you teach me your own philosophies over a car ride or during a meal. The way you let me make your coffee. The way you call me a sleepyhead. The way you always reach out to me, so that I would never feel left out. The way you crack a joke, both the funny and the corny ones. The way you make me hear and appreciate the bass lines of your favorite jams.
Dad, you have given me so much in my little life. And it makes me so happy to have you for a father. Because you are wonderful, funny, kind, pragmatic, short-tempered, blunt, caring, selfless. Because you love my mother in the way she deserves to be loved, in the way that only you can. Because you have given me two amazing siblings―a scientist and an artist―and an awesome extended family. Also two dogs (and perhaps more in the future). Because you are a gift from God.
This is my way of showing how much I appreciate you as a father and as a person. 39 years on this planet and already you have changed lives, our lives, so much.
I love you so much, Daddy. I am glad Mom chose you and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 😉 Though we don’t share the same blood, we share the same heart, along with our musical inclinations and allergic rhinitis. (That being said, I really do hope you have great cardiac health.)
And it’s not just Mom who inspires me to become a doctor, but also you. One day, I will join the two of you. 🙂
Happy birthday, Dad! This is my gift for you. Here’s to more happy years ahead of you, because you deserve nothing less. I love you. Stay pogi.