During the twenty-three years of my life, every time October 1st comes into the picture, I always think of how thankful I am to have been given another year to add to my infinity. It has always been about me... and who can blame me exactly? It’s my birthday, right? I have the privilege to be selfish.
But this year, as I’m turning twenty-four, I want it to be different.
Lately, I just realized that every time it is October 1st, it is not just my birthday we are celebrating. We are also honouring the day when my father and mother become parents—the day they can finally call themselves as “Papa” and “Mama”.
Just this week, when I used one of my leaves to stay at home and clean the house, I stumbled upon some of my belongings in the attic that my dad labelled as “Nikka’s Things”. I was curious as to what they may contain, so I carried the whole plastic bag to our room and leisurely went through the stuff. At first, I was laughing out loud because I found some throwback pictures that would be perfect for my social media sites. They were not that flattering, mind you, so I was all smiles.
But, then, I found a lot of hand-written letters given by my mom to my dad a couple of years back. I instantly remembered that, yes, there were those times—a pretty long one actually—where my parents used to exchange letters to one another through air mail. Electronic emails were not popular back then. I did not read them of course because they were private and sacred. I just let them be.
But, then, there were letters I’ve written myself for my dad which my mom used to include in her mail. I read them, and this was the time when I cried my own bucket of tears.
I couldn’t help but to be sentimental, you know. The letters were written by a child—by me. And they were full of longing.
My dad, even until now, is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). He works in a ship, and takes at least three months before he can come home to us. I don’t know when he started that job, but I do know and understand how important that is for him to even consider leaving his family for a couple of months and miss milestones after milestones of his daughters’ lives.
You know what I’ve read in those letters? They were the same thing over and over again. “Pa, kailan ka uuwi? Miss na kita. Sana dito ka na lang magtrabaho sa Pilipinas.” (Pa, when will you come home? I miss you. I wish you can work here in the Philippines instead.)
To have read those words crushed my heart. And if it did mine, how much more did my dad feel as he was reading them? An equally important question is what can a mother say to make her child understand the depth of her husband’s sacrifice?
And that’s not all. I also found a party invitation in one of the letters my mom gave my dad—my 6th birthday party invitation. Another one that I was sure my dad missed because he was working abroad; And a party I was sure my mom had to prepare and organize alone.
Sometimes, even if you cannot help it, you forget what matters the most. The thought may be there. But, the appreciation—the recognition—is not. The action is missing. You only remember it once a situation arises and demands for you to remember.
I’d like to take this opportunity then to:
(1) Commemorate the day I’ve been given such wonderful and loving parents. I cannot thank God enough for blessing me in this household. Without my Papa and Mama, I’m not sure actually how my life will turn out right now. They have been my constants and my everything. The reason why I strive for the better. Because they deserve the best of what life has to offer and then some.
(2) Make my birthday wish. This is actually the first time that I know specifically what I want for my birthday, and that is for my Papa to finally come home. I understand that the circumstances right now will not allow it, but soon. I will ultimately get the wish that my younger self prayed and hoped for. I will do my best. I will work my hardest to bring you home, Pa. Soon.
So, happy birthday to me. And happy parents’ day to my folks. I love you to the moon and back.