I am Tatay’s girl and I’m proud of it.
Even before I knew I had a brain where I can store my memories in, I felt. I knew Tatay took precious care of me because his scent is what I remember, lodged in my amygdala, triggering such sweet memories whenever I feel like reminiscing. His were the hands I remember, gently prodding me to take my first step. His voice I still hear inside my head when I’m in the middle of making a crucial decision in my life. Tatay holds a huge chunk of my heart, if not all.
If it weren’t for Tatay, I would not be where I am now.
I cannot remember a single time he sat down with me to help me with my homework in school and I was not trembling with fright. He was always disappointed with how little I know, telling me that I should know better than to ask for his help in the first place. When he was a student, he says, he was working while studying. Things were always much more difficult for him than it was for me and, hence, I was not supposed to gripe about anything at all.
When I was old enough to hang out with some friends and I try to ask for his permission when I want to go out, I spend hours outside his door, collecting enough guts to even utter a few words in front of him. After a feeble attempt at making him feel I wanted his decision with even the littlest moments of my teenage life, he gnarls an angry “NO!” at my face and I run away crying.
Only one thought churned my brain cells to work their best when I was studying —- that one day he would be proud of me. Every achievement I stacked against the fact that he belittles me and mocks everything I gained. Every step of the way, I searched for signs of pride in his face but I only found dismay. If he were the slightest happy about it, he was good at hiding it. Years of practice hardened his heart.
After I finished school and started earning my own money, still he wasn’t the least bit proud. He was still the hermit that he was, watching TV and eating all alone in his dingy room. Once I had an unfortunate encounter with him he said I haven’t gone very far and that I haven’t achieved anything at all if it were only up to him to decide.
How a single statement can shatter one’s heart.
Tatay may not be the most adorable and loving father when I was growing up. He may have hurt me more than he expressed his love. We may not have sweet memories together anymore. And as I write, there exists a thick stubborn wall separating our hearts. But I stick to what I earlier said —- if it were not for how he is, I would not be where I am now. God could not have it any other way. He could have borne me out of parents other than the ones I have now but He didn’t. The key is to trust His plan.
To completely depend on a plan I haven’t the faintest idea of is like driving along a curb and you don’t know where the road leads. There’s an anything-can-happen feeling constantly nagging me. It’s not enough to simply trust. Not even to just hope. One has to know. That we only have good things to look forward to with God on our side. It is not just a matter of trusting and hoping. It’s actually “knowing” that completes the process called faith.
God did not promise to change my family situation for me. He did not even tell me that He would make sure there’s no worsening of the status quo. God did not try to make things better for me. Because what He gave me was the best. God gave me the single most important reason to hope. He gave me Himself.
“For hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. – Romans 8:24-25”
With God, the impossible becomes possible.
Chances of reconciliation with Tatay may be bleak. My scars have deepened to almost no cure. And his heart has solidified against a proud daughter too long ago. Tatay has his faults but I have mine, too. Had I started to convince myself a long time ago that Tatay loves Ria, I may have started to believe it now. But no, I write about his hardened heart, but my heart hardened as well and just as much.
Ever since that night God planted a seed of hope in my heart, I began to believe Tatay really loves me. I started seeing things he does for me that I never noticed before because of my blind heart. I now feel how deep his love is for me no matter how hard he tries to conceal it. I began to believe even without seeing. And once again, I remember the time he said to me, “Ria, you are my hope, my star and my last hurrah.”
How a single statement can pick up the pieces of a once-shattered heart.
Indeed, I AM Tatay’s girl and I AM proud of it.
I have a God-shaped vacuum in my heart that only through intimacy with Him He can fill. God resides within me and de-clutters my life to fill it with just the things that have eternal value. Albeit a work in progress, I pray to God everyday to mold me into the person He created me to be
and for His work in and through me to be fulfilled. To God be all the honor and glory!
I am Tatay’s girl and I’m proud of it.