The last New Year’s eve

    937

    ‘It was not just an ordinary New Year’s eve, as the song goes, because my father would not be around for the next one.’

    THERE is nothing new with current discussions on fortune-telling and feng shui on radio and TV. Anchors and commentators are starting the New Year again by being mesmerized with recycled insights by so-called seers told again and again.

    So far, the forecasts of good fortune, prosperity and protection for families and our country have yielded nothing more than calamities, rampant killings, business failures, thousands of deaths due to the pandemic, hopelessness, government incompetence and joblessness.

    For a change, Filipinos should seriously turn to the Bible for valuable spiritual and enlightening insights such as 2 Peter 1:3: “For His divine power has granted to us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

    ***

    It was a dreary night from the hospital room of my father when I arrived about an hour before midnight. I could not resist an inner tug to visit him that one night which I wanted him to feel. He had suffered from a massive heart attack three months before, which he miraculously survived. And here at the Makati Medical Center where we transferred him from a nearly decrepit public hospital in Quezon City my three sister-doctors had made sure he would receive the best treatment and care.

    I stared out at the window from the fifth floor of the hospital as the skies began to brighten with flashes of exploding fireworks and firecrackers. I could not break the silence in the room by putting on the lights and greeting my father, “A Happy New Year.” In his semi-coma state he could not utter a word and at that moment he was fast asleep and looked so peaceful. There was cause for a huge celebration in the world as the night lit up but in the dark hospital room it hardly mattered. As I celebrated not the turn of the year but the exceptional life of this man I felt my heart bedazzled by the overwhelming thought that I meant the world to him.

    We, his children, most of whom were at odds with him, finally made peace with our father, the more defiant weeping as they asked for forgiveness. My father, Romy, was a hard man to live with, controlling at almost every turn, and when I had it I ran away from home.

    Later, I would find out that after seeing the good in him – and there were so much – I would blame myself for the trouble between us. When I came to know Christ and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior I learned how to appreciate my father and was further convinced that his sacrifice and abiding love could only come from God.

    It was not just an ordinary New Year’s eve, as the song goes, because my father would not be around for the next one. As he lingered in the hospital for three months before he passed on, the wall between him, I and my other siblings vanished entirely. And for the first time in my life that had seemed so distant from his, I could hold his hand and, still for the first time, whisper to his ear, “Mahal na mahal kita ‘Tay.”