My father passing away when I was 23 years old is a grudge that I don’t think I’ll ever let go of. It was when I was still in ways immature, selfish and only cared about what was going on in my head and in my life. I didn’t get the chance to fully realise all the things he did for me – big and small. I wasn’t mature enough to show him my gratitude, show him my utmost love and ask him about all the stories he cherished so much.

After their death you mourn, and then you begin to live life as normal, you learn to go by everyday without them – it’s almost as if you forget. But then there’s that one moment. You visit a new and exciting restaurant, you buy your first home or something as simple as you see a gorgeous necktie – and you think to yourself “F*ck, dad would’ve loved this!”. And that is the moment you realise someone is missing and will never return. I’m sure a lot of people who have lost someone so dear to them can relate to this.

Someone once said something to me on the day of my fathers passing, something that will always stick with me forever. “Don’t morn his death, instead celebrate the life he lived – because he lived a good one.” And since then I never liked to put attention towards my fathers death anniversary. It’s a day I don’t want to publicly acknowledge. But, I do love to celebrate his birthday. And just a few days ago we celebrated what would be his 71st Birthday.

Now I may not have been able to hear all the stories he had, or all the memories he treasured before his passing. But I do have my own memories of my father that always makes me smile, cry and laugh when I think of them. In celebration of my fathers 71st Birthday I decided to give a glimpse to you all of what an amazing man my father was and is.

  1. The reason why I think I believe so much in equality is because of my father. He never, ever said women were suppose to be a certain way. He believed instead a marriage should be about teamwork, especially when it came to the upkeep of a household. You would always see him folding clothes, ironing and moping. In fact, he was the one who taught me how to clean sneakers so that they always looked brand spanking new. He really raised the bar of standards I had for men in my life.
  2. He taught me road rage. My father was a very patient man. Rarely would he raise his voice. And you’d wonder how does he release his anger? I laugh now, but I really think he released his anger on the road. Beeping and calling bad drivers the “diablo”* was something my father usually did.
  3. My father hated smacking me. He couldn’t. How could you smack someone so adorable? But one time he did. I remember I told him I didn’t want to got to church. Instead I wanted to go late night shopping and buy toys. He then smacked me after I continually threw tantrums while he was trying to get me ready for church. 30 minutes later he guiltily came back to me with a peace offering – a hug in one hand and a McDonalds happy meal in the other… I still went to church service that night.
  4. He hated it when we spent money on him. I was in High School when I got my first job. Now, you should know my father was an outfit repeater. He would wear the shit out of his clothes until they were falling apart and super glue just wouldn’t stick them together again. He just didn’t like buying new things. So when I got my first pay check, I bought him a new pair of shoes. Instead of saying a simple thank you, he actually got angry. He asked me why would I waste money on him, instead I should save it and buy a property (yeah… at 16 years old, buying a property was on my priorities list… lol).
  5. He was always so proud of every accomplishment I made – big or small. From when I got my Provisional license to my very first car, he always made a huge commotion about it. My first car that I bought was a shitty Hyundai Exel. It had no power steering (don’t even ask how I was able to go around a roundabout in that thing) and the passenger side window wouldn’t open. It was literally a shit box. But my father was so proud. I would catch him, more than once always washing and wiping down my car when I wasn’t home. He even tried to make me love it by telling me it was a sport car because it had a spoiler (lol!)
  6. He had the biggest green thumb. If he wasn’t working, napping or mopping the floor he was outside tending to his babies (his garden). You know how there are those types of people who love their lawn so much they won’t even let anyone step on it? That was my father. He was what I would call a lawn enthusiast. It had to be green and it had to be a certain length. He wouldn’t let anyone near the lawn mower because he said “You might cut it too short.” Yes. That was my father.
  7. Majority of my childhood was me using Hilton Hotel pens to draw. My father use to work for the company and nearly every week he would take home a shit load of Hilton Hotel pens. (Is that stealing?)
  8. Being the youngest in the family, I was very much a daddy’s girl. I had the biggest separation anxiety whenever I wasn’t around him. There was a time he worked as a security guard, he use to work night shift guarding a cemetery. I would cry so hard when he left for work that he then started bringing me to work. I would spend the entire night sleeping in the car, assured that it didn’t matter because I was near my dad. However, when he would finish his shift I would make him take a shower before he could hug me because I was so scared that he took the dead people with him on his skin – trust me, I’m rolling in regret right now.
  9. Dad was far from being a culinary enthusiast or even an amateur chief. But he did make bomb ass sinangang* and fried egg. Every single morning, before he left for work he would always make sure we woke up to a fresh new batch on the kitchen bench. I am also convinced that he invented bread dipped in coffee and microwaved bananas.
  10. My father and I had our own little tradition. Every Sunday morning, before we would go to church together, we would have a little breakfast date at our local bakery. He would always buy me a warm croissant with strawberry milk. However, as I grew up, got my own car, traditions changed and I wanted to go to church separately.
    Dad helping me out of the car on mine and Tony’s wedding day – 2012.

    Randomly after church one day he showed up in front of me, a strawberry milk in one hand, a croissant in the other and a warm smile on his face. You know what makes me cry when I think about this story? Is that back then I didn’t see it as anything significant. I didn’t see it as him thinking of me and reaching out to me to spend time together. All I did was say “Thanks dad!” and walked away.

  11. He literally believed that a Big Mac from McDonalds was healthy because it had lettuce in it.
  12. He was the one in our family who never slept until a fight was resolved.
  13. He believed every single one of my 18 year old lies. There was a time where I borrowed his car to go out and decided to have a cigarette in it. The next day he confronted me asking me why his car smelt like yoss*. I then made the biggest bizarre lie and said “that the window had been down while a group of people were smoking next to it. The smoke must’ve gotten into the car.” He believed me.
  14. When Tony and I started dating my dad decided to implement a 10pm curfew. Of course, we never really followed it. But every night when I came home my dad would be waiting in the formal lounge room reading the bible. And it wasn’t ever an angry wait. He wouldn’t say anything except “Oh! You’re home.” It was an unconfirmed way of him just waiting to make sure I got home safely, because as soon as I went into my bedroom, he would go straight to bed.
  15. Dad loved rice. He ate everything with rice. Pizza and rice. Banana and rice. Mangoes? Can’t have mangoes without rice – even better when he used his hands.
  16. I was about 8 years old or so and every night he would take me to pick up my mum from work. He would also sneakingly buy me a McDonalds apple pie and tell me “not to tell my mum or sisters.”
  17. Dad was an avid Tennis match enthusiast. You know how usually when people watch rugby or soccer they yell at the TV? Dad did that… but with tennis. You knew the Wimbledon was on because dad would be yelling “NOOOO!” in the kitchen.
  18. He loved Justin Timberlake. He thought JT was a musical genius, especially with the song “Senorita”.
  19. Dad and I watched the movie “Troy” together in cinema. A mortifying experience out of my entire adolescent life. Imagine this – we are both at the edge of our seats with all the action scenes, then BAM! Brad Pitts bare ass and sex scene is smothered in both yours and your fathers faces. Awkward right? To make matters worse my father got the popcorn box and covered my eyes with it.
  20. Dad didn’t like Britney Spears – because she cheated on Justin Timberlake.
  21. He could’ve won “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. He knew every trivial knowledge there is to know. He absorbed information like a sponge. He knew where every single country and state in the entire world was. Don’t believe me? One time Tony and I bought him a globe to test his knowledge out. The most random locations Tony and I questioned him on, he was able to point out on the globe. It was f*cken insane.
  22. I once took my parents to watch “The Pursuit of Happyness”. That was the first time I saw my father cry so hard because of a movie. I was distracted from the end scene because of my fathers sobbing, he just blew into a handkerchief and said to me “I believe in Will Smith.”
  23. Dad never really kissed us. He would just pat our heads and smell our hair – I miss that.
  24. He was always so concerned when he noticed us losing weight. He hated it when we thought we were fat. Up until I was 12 years old he would literally hand feed me if I didn’t want to eat.
  25. Dad spent a lot of time in the toilet. It was pretty much his library. He actually read our entire Encyclopedia collection on the toilet. That’s probably why he knew so much about space, robots and safari animals.
  26. He was a realestate expert. He knew what the going rate of a property was, the trends and what was on the market. Before the internet and the realestate app, there was realestate catalogues. He would drive by every single realestate around our home and make me and my sisters get the magazine for him. Back then it was embarrassing for us. He wouldn’t even park the car. He would just turn on the hazard lights and make us run in and out. In fact his ideal day would be a morning spent at church, a lunch at McDonalds (eating a “healthy” big mac of course) and the rest of the afternoon looking at display homes.
  27. He was the loudest person at my High School graduation. I thought I was a loud cheerer. I wasn’t. When I went on stage to collect my certificate, my father made everyones ears bleed.

To be honest, there is so many more memories, so many more wonderful stories I could share with everyone. These are just the 27 that came to mind the second I thought of writing this post. Funny enough I now realise how much they have to do with McDonalds.

Thank you to everyone who read this blog post. I wish everyone was able to know and see my father in the light that I saw him, because he is an amazing man, a wonderful human and to this day, Tony and I always say he would’ve been the greatest grandparent to our children.

I love my daddy.

xo/Vanessa

*diablo – Tagalog term for the Devil

*sinangang – Filipino garlic fried rice

*yoss – slang term for cigarette

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