31 October 1998. He seemed to be in a tearing hurry to reach his destination in the province to spend Holy Week with his elder daughter’s family, though he had with him in this trip the latter’s two older kids.
Though tired with an almost 8 hours nonstop drive in the night, he did not think of even a small respite. The lure of his daughter was so overpowering that he wouldn’t stop. It would take another 4 hours to reach their destination. His wife seated at the back in the car constantly cautioned him to go slow as the dial hovered around 120 kms/hour. She said speed may thrill but would also kill. He shot back “who would want to die anyway?” He often boasted that he was more skilful and safer than other drivers. Knowing him well that he rarely listened, his wife just retreated into silence.
It was 4:00 o’clock, the darkest hour before dawn on 01 November 2008. It could be the speed,the darkness all around, lack of sleep, a fleeting second of missed concentration or even destiny. The car plunged into a small ravine headlong coming to an abrupt and shattering halt. There were eight passengers in the ill fated car. There was a total deathly silence for a while till the two kids started shrieking in pain frightened totally by the accident. People in the neighborhood on hearing the loud crash came rushing to extend a helping hand and to rescue everyone inside the car. Blood was sprayed everywhere inside the car, on the faces of victims and on the glass doors. Two persons inside the car had passed out unconscious after the rude halt.
The driver seemed conscious as he cringed for help from the people around. Someone stopped a passing jeepney to take all the wounded and unconscious passengers to the nearest hospital. None appeared to had succumbed to injuries on the spot. Things did not appear so bad as was feared except for the total damage to the vehicle. On their way to the hospital, her wife muttered her deep disappointment toward her husband for failing to heed her warning. He in turn tried to calm her down giving the impression that all was well with him.
The hospital para medical staff acted with alacrity rushing them to emergency. The doctors were busy attending on them. When the driver started shrieking in acute pain and incoherently one of the dotors rushed to him. He found shards of broken glass on his eyes. He cried in pain unable to move his back or hip. The x-rays revealed a major dislocation of the pelvic bone. Further examination gave cause for major worry with heavy internal hemorrhage. He was rushed to the operation theater for an emergency surgery and his condition was declared critical.
Around 6:00 AM, he gave up his valiant fight to live and peacefully passed away inside the operating room.
That was my father. Exactly 12 years ago today, they met that tragic accident together with my mother, my two older kids, three cousins and an aunt.
When I think of the fact that his intense desire to visit me made him undertake the long and tiresome journey by car at night, a sense of guilt comes up and the pangs of separation hurt me thinking that I was indirectly responsible for his untimely end. He was my beloved father, too young to leave this world. I was the daddy’s girl and his fvourite amongst my siblings.
I was told by his neighbors of some bad omens suggesting unwelcome happenings to my parents. A howling owl was seen on the roof of their house in the city. And before the trip, he went to a tailor to have him sewn a pair of dark slacks and a barong Tagalog. On his last Sunday in church, he went about shaking everybody’s hands after the service that was unusual of him.
I loved my father so much. It was a special relationship with him that was intricate and compelling. Without a doubt, my dad’s influence on my life was powerful. He moulded my personal values and set high standard of expectations for the other men who crossed my path--the friends, professionals, co-workers and husband. It was my dad to whom I would always go for advice, comfort and love. He was proud of me in many ways. He was a protective father but however much I accomplished in my life on my own, I was still daddy's little girl till he passed away.
Today, as we remember his 12th death anniversary, I wrote this open letter for him.
To my beloved Father,
I know you are now in Heaven, watching and smiling over us your kids, grandkids and my beloved mother, your wife. I want to cry. When I reminisce those happy days we have with you, I feel sad that I miss you. The times when we were yet young and you played with us happily under the rain; buying us our favorite food, bringing us to your farm and working with you in jovial mood. We were a picture of a simple, humble but happy family. We may not have had all the riches in the world but we were a picture of a contented, happy family. The times when you lovingly played with my young kids and all your grand kids…I missed those times.
Father, look at your grandkids, most are teenagers now and some are fast growing up, all equally a sight to behold and equally intelligent. They surely miss you but fate was unkind to you.
We will just be consoled with the thought that you left us happy memories, all enough to make us smile when we remember you.
Thank you Father for bringing us into this world and for sharing with us some wonderful colors in life.
And this poem by Joanna Fuchs , I dedicate to you:
You may have thought I didn't see,
Or that I hadn't heard,
Life's lessons that you taught to me,
But I got every word.
Perhaps you thought I missed it all,
And that we'd grow apart,
But Dad, I picked up everything,
It's written on my heart.
Without you, Dad, I wouldn't be
The woman I am today;
You built a strong foundation
No one can take away.
I've grown up with your values,
And I'm very glad I did;
So here's to you, dear father,
From your forever grateful daughter.