My stepfather was the best man I knew. He was my dad and my best friend. He raised me as one of his own since I was a little tyke. I used to draw people on the bottom of his feet while watching television. I used to listen to oldies with him all the time. One time he cut my nose when he was cutting my bangs. He was the Hobbes to my Calvin.
It has been five years since my father passed, and I can still hear his laugh. I can still see his smile. I can still hear his voice. Sometimes I see him around. I see a dark man with a hat, walking like he used to, and my heart skips. In that moment I’ll forget that he’s gone, and I’ll think that the man I am looking at, is him.
I have learned two things from his passing
The first thing that I learned is acceptance. Sounds easy right? Well not quite. You see, when he passed, it was the single most traumatizing moment that has taken place in my life. The day he passed away, I woke up feeling so hopeful that he would pull through. Later that afternoon, we were by his side as he peacefully slipped away. I have never experienced death so close to me and I couldn’t help to selfishly ask, “Why God? Why did it have to be him?”
For me, his death itself was a life lesson. I had to learn that some terrible things can happen that we have no control over nor can we change, and all we can do is pick up the pieces and move forward. I had to get over the fact that my mom sold the house that we grew up in because living there was too hard for her.
My father was an influential man
I already knew how amazing he was because he was my father. I always thought we had a special bond, but when he was sick, and in his passing, I learned he had a special bond with everyone. At his funeral the whole church was packed (and it was a huge church), there were people on the balcony seating and people standing outside. I’ve heard the funeral procession from the church to the cemetery was miles long. One of the longest Stockton has seen in a while. It was astonishing to see so much love for this one man, and I was so proud that I had a chance to be a part of his life.
His legacy has inspired me
To see the amount of lives he touched amazed me. I could make a list miles long about all the great things about him. He was a revered Eskrimador (Filipino Martial Arts), patient husband and father, and funny as heck. But what stands out to me was that he was so selfless. You need an ear? Call him. You need some money? Ask him. You need to stay at our house? Here are some blankets. I can’t think of a time when we didn’t have a friend living with us. On top of that, he helped my mother take care of my children for years. He took them everywhere. They hung out in the front yard, he took them to and from school, and they always went on weekend bike rides.
He influenced me as a mother
I know that I strive to be half of the parent he was. For me, it wasn’t that he was always present that made him a good father. It was because he was there in my darkest hours, to talk to me, to understand me when my mother didn’t, and to help me see just how strong I could really be. I want my children to know that I will be there when they need me, not to judge them, but to help them though it.
One time he got me a card. There was an oak tree on the outside of it. On the inside of the card, it illustrated how the oak tree will still stand no matter how hard the wind blows.
He was strong like the oak tree and that’s how I strive to be every day. As Father’s Day nears, I will cherish memories of his smile and laughter, and hope that I am making him proud.