Today is Tatay's 24th death anniversary. I don't quite know how I'll mark this day. Last year I baked an egg pie because he always used to buy me a slice of this pie along with a cold chocolate drink as a treat. I don't have any baking plans for today and it looks like I'll be dining in on my own as S and the kids are going out with some friends, so I'll just write this post to mark my father's passing.
One of the saddest things about my father dying and our house burning down at the same time is that we were left with no photos of my father when he was alive. (The side story to this is that we did pack our photo albums as we were leaving the house, but some heartless bastard stole the blanket in which those albums and most of our clothes were bundled. I hope that this person found out about my father's death and that the knowledge that he stole the only tangible things we had left of my father would hound him for the rest of his life.)
We eventually found his driving licence photo, a tiny 1" x 1" photo which made it impossible to discern his facial features. We also found another slightly larger ID photo, in black and white. That was it. There was nothing to show anyone the life that existed behind the serious facade of the man in these photos.
One of our friends took many photos of my father in his coffin at the funeral. The man in those photos was nothing like the man we knew when he was alive. His face looked grim, whereas my father had a lovely smile that went all the way up to his twinkling eyes. But those photos were all we had and somehow they served to comfort us.
After a year or two, however, the photos started fading and humidity damaged most of them. The images that we had been holding on to were gone forever.
I think that in some ways, this loss helped us in our recovery. We had no photos or home videos to spend hours looking at longingly, burying us deeper into our grief. All we had left were the various memories we had of my Tatay when he was right there in the midst of our lives, and those are the things that we have kept alive in our hearts all these years. The wonderful thing is that each member of our family has a different set of memories of my father and yet all these memories have done the same thing for us—they've kept us going through the tough times and made us more appreciative of the good times, knowing how short life is and that we all get only one shot at living a meaningful life with the people who are in that life.
Here are some of my favourite memories of my father: