Behind every great daughter is a truly amazing dad. ~Anonymous~
I have never been one to celebrate Valentine’s Day. My mother died at 3:00-ish in the early mornings of February 14th so from that time on, February 14th is about her death anniversary and not about Valentine’s. I do not say this regretfully but truthfully. It’s a fact of life and I don’t ever regret not celebrating Valentine’s. Cliche as it may sound, every day can actually be Valentine’s, right?
I’ve never made a love letter to Mama before she died. But I was by her side for most of her hospital stay before she passed away – reading the Bible to her and holding her hands. My very first Bible still has marks of when I read certain chapters to her.
Ironically, this post is not about my mother. As I mentioned, I have never written Mama a love letter, but I wrote one to Papa. So, on Valentines’ Day, I am sharing a daughter’s love letter to her father.
I wrote this letter to Papa on his birthday on November 27th but I was not home to read it to him or to give it to him. I asked my younger sister to read it to him while I was on the phone. When she was done reading, she said, “Manang, gin pahibi mo si Papa…” (Manang is a Hiligaynon term of respect to an older sister; gin pahibi means you made him cry).
Read on to know what I wrote my father.
When I think of you I think of my childhood experiences. Running around the house naked and you catch up on me to cover my nakedness. After all, you have always been one that is reserved and introvert you don’t want your firstborn to be otherwise.
I also think of the Papa’s baby that I was who never want to be carried by anyone. I would throw out a fit if I don’t feel my father’s warm embrace.
The first academic medal in 4th grade also comes to mind when I think of you Pa. I wanted you to come up the stage, pin the ribbon and be so proud of me in every school recognition day but you told me that ribbons are nothin’ and that medals are somethin’. So together with Ma, I labored and strove. Alas, a medal was brought forth! And so I felt so proud and dignified when you first came up the stage to award me my medal.
These stories have been told and retold. You never grow tired telling others and me about it. Just as you hold those memories dear to your mind and heart, I, too, hold those stories dear to my heart. I may not have always been the daughter that you want me to be, nonetheless, you loved me for me.
Pa, you did not demand from me or expected less of me. I know that you have always been proud of me. You may not have told me that out loud but I believe that you have always esteemed me before your comrades.
Pa, I appreciate how you have disciplined me. It may have brought fear in my growing up years but it gave me inner strength in my maturing years. I thank you for watching me closely when I was growing up but releasing me in complete freedom when I thought I was old enough.
Pa, I never sat on your lap, never heard you talk to me from your heart but the inner strength that radiates through all our circumstances is enough for me to know that I have a father in you. You did not give me a car or even a bicycle (that’s why I never learned to ride one) but know this that you have given me more than any daughter can ask for – understanding when I was abnormal, patience when I was stubborn, care when I was thoughtless, trust when I was unfaithful and love when I was a prodigal. Your silent prayers together with Ma sustained me.
Wealth and possessions may perish when not handled well but a legacy from a father is something that I will not sell. Yes, you are not perfect. Your flaws are obvious and your shortcomings never go unnoticed. Your weaknesses I see but through it all, I have seen you rise and live again. For that I thank you. You have taught me by doing not only by saying—nothing is too despairing or too great that I cannot overcome.
Pa, you have been the pillar that held our family upright. You taught my siblings and me that integrity is worth more than riches. You have been offered money in exchange for your principles but you did not give in to the lure of being famous and rich. And so we remained a simple family, living simple lives, and enjoying simple pleasures. I thank you for teaching me to live not according to what I can get but according to what I can give while being firm in my own convictions.
Pa, you have always stayed true, faithful and loyal to Mama even after seven years of her death. I have always wondered how you carried us through your times of mourning. How you lived life when a part of you died. I can only say that it must be God.
You are also one that is loyal to friends. You have a few but they were real friends and have kept them for years. This, too, helped me to appreciate those around me.
Pa, for me you have lived an exemplified life. You may not have been an influential man in the community. You may not have been a significant persona in the corporate world. You may not have earned your way to the elite class of society. You may not have received awards, plaques, and commendations from various organizations. You may not have impacted the whole world but you have made a difference in the life of the one who will impact the world—that’s me, your firstborn!
Pa, please forgive me for taking you for granted many times. For not believing in you and for not being there in times that you needed me the most, for not spending enough time with you, I am sorry. My apology for the lack of love and care.
I recognize that you are indeed a blessing to me. I thank my God for giving me the best: a father who cares, understands and loves me the most. Pa, know thou this—that I am so proud of you. I am proud to have a father like you and proud to be a daughter to you.
I may not be able to say it all but know this: I honor you. You are one of the best things that ever happened to me. Having you as my father is something that I will never regret. In fact, if I have to live life all over again I would still choose you as my father.
Papa, I love you. Thank you.
It’s a good thing that I was able to write this to him years before he passed away, himself.
Daughters, I encourage you to write your parents and your siblings a love letter. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Share to them the memories that linger in your mind and heart.
Let them know how much you love them. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. All it needs to be is true and from the heart.
Try it. Go, do it now. Get yourself a pen and a piece of paper and start pouring your heart onto the pages. And give it to them. Do not wait for a perfect time.
The only perfect time for them to read it is NOW. You will never regret it.
To the rest of you who celebrate Valentine’s Day – have a very happy hearts day!
This post was originally posted on 27 November 2007