He sits beside me on the couch, quiet. I am busy furiously punching numbers on my mobile phone, trying to balance my expenses for the month. He looks around the room, coughs roughly and spits unceremoniously in a “special sputter dish” that he keeps close all the time. I ask him how he is feeling; he gives me a deadpan look, quiet. He taps my shoulder, “Can you check on your mum outside? She went out to buy ingredients for lunch. Just make sure she’s okay.” I get up, look outside and see my mother happily chatting with our neighbour, holding her small grocery bag. “She’s okay Popsie. She’s on her way back here,” I tell him. He looks at me and nods.
It was my last conversation with my Dad. His last reminder was to take care of my mother.
That day is vividly etched in my mind; lingering at any sign of idleness. Every day when I wake up, during bus trips to the office (I pass by the funeral home that helped us with his remains), every rest days spent at home, whenever I talk to God in the Church, every night before I go to sleep. This ember, I think, will forever smoulder inside me; waiting for some few moments when it would flare to life.
Around lunch time the day of our last conversation, the Doctor showed me a little sheet of white paper. Printed on it was a thin black flat line in the middle – I didn’t understand. I refused to understand. She carefully guided me beside the emergency room’s bed and gently opened my Dad’s eyes and explained how the fixed and dilated pupils vindicated that he had left me. I pleaded for her to revive him, to do something to bring him back. She shook her head to tell me that she can’t. My rational mind had accepted he’s been gone while we were still in the vehicle going to the hospital but my heart stubbornly rejected the idea. I realized that moment; I am forever broken.
Being the youngest in the family, I was blessed to be his ‘baby’. I never worry on what food to eat as he was always there to prepare one for us. He didn’t want my hands dirty so he took care of the menial household chores. Yes, I was a spoiled daughter. I remembered the first week after his funeral; I was doing all the chores at home. I told my mother in my most childlike-innocent look, “Popsie was a superhero doing all this work at 77. I couldn’t even allow myself to understand that I may end up doing it all every day.” I was exhausted – and I was just doing it for a week; he was doing it forever. I cried that night. Not because I am weary but because I realized I never did appreciate all the things he did for us.
As what every good father does, he took good care of us all. When I was a wee kid, he would always carry me to my bed if I fell asleep on our sofa. When I started working, he would irk my mum to call me if I’m not home on time. He always made sure I have my packed lunch ready – during elementary, high school days even until I am already working.
As a husband, I never heard any complaint from my mother about him. He was a loving, caring and the sweetest partner. He spoiled my mum big time, too. He’d do everything at home. He’d never make her do any chores. He was always on the go: preparing lunch, fixing door knobs, taking care of the dogs.
Today, I sit alone on this same couch, his picture beside me. I am furiously typing the words to this entry, trying so hard to capture all the things I wanted to tell him. I look around the room imagining that he’s still here. I try to blink back the tears that are eagerly escaping my eyes. I blew my nose unceremoniously on my shirt. It’s quiet here… I look at his picture and I understand, he was ready to go as long as I look after my mother. He made sure it was his last conversation with me.
Thank you Popsie for being my superhero. I miss you so much. We will take care of her, I promise!