Nowadays, my father’s feet are often clad in loafers or sandals, whenever he goes out with us on family trips, near or far. At 89, he finds much ease of striding in footwear that affords his toes, heels, and soles comfort and breathing space. Back in the days of his youth, at his prime, he always wore leathers. Leather shoes for office and church, and leather slippers at home. He had his soft driving shoes though.
I couldn’t imagine how he moved about in those heavy footwear. But my father, with his 5’7” straight back frame, cut a military figure, even never having been in the military, and walked with dignified gaits.
One thing I realize, my father’s shoes today have gotten smaller in size. Unlike in the past when his leather-clad feet were the first anyone noticed.
Still, my father’s shoes — then and now — are his and only his to fill.
On a deeper level though, try hard as they might – no one will ever be able to fill my father’s shoes.
He is – as most people say – holy, kind, and gentle. Once, already in his 80’s, he met a priest while on a visit to my sister at the convent. After a brief conversation with my Dad, that priest remarked, “You’re more priest-like than I am.”
As ever, Dad carries a quiet, dignified, genteel air about him. This affords him a stature almost akin to nobility. He draws instant respect from anyone who meets him, friends and strangers alike. Like bowing to him in deference or giving way to him without his asking. But the reason for this is my father’s prayer life, shaping the person that he is. You’ll get a sense of his authority and his humility.
Steeped in prayer since childhood, he led our family in our daily Rosary and prayers. Until today, with my mother gone on, he continues to observe his daily prayer times throughout the day. Our home is like a convent, indeed. Having dedicated our home to the Sacred Heart, my parents have done their best to make our family a real domestic church. And that is what Dad is bequeathing to us his children and grandchildren. His and Mom’s legacy of faith.
Like silent waters that run deep, my father is a man of few words, yet bright and knowledgeable. A voracious reader, he sparked in each of us the love of reading and transformed his brood into a bunch of book geeks. He filled our home with books, volumes of encyclopedias and dictionaries, and most of all, the Bible. My mother would often say with pride my father had an IQ of a near Genius. Indeed, based on IQ tests he took at different points in his early life.
So as a young student back then, I looked up to my father for his sharp memory, keen mind, and vast knowledge, from religion to history to science and Math, and his great facility with English. Once, an American in one of the firms he worked for asked him about his perfect English – better than some native speakers. You see my father worked from age 14 with American navy personnel to pack some of their inventory.
Oh, he was his children and grandchildren’s Music mentor — our first voice teacher and musical director – being gifted with a rich baritone voice. He taught/encouraged us to play musical instruments, most of which he could play well. I did learn to play the piano for a short time in early grade school, and my youngest son learned to play the banduria and violin (Dad’s forte) from him, too..
Yes, he was also a Math wizard. And our Math savior for our homework and projects. No wonder! He graduated as Salutatorian from High School (like his eldest grandson – my son who took after him), went on to UP, then Mapua University, for his Engineering studies.
A dedicated employee, he excelled in his career in Personnel Management (now known as Human Resources or People Management), rising from the ranks (as a working student) to being top executive in all the firms he worked for. He also served as a consultant at one big corporation, midway in his career.
With a large growing brood, he managed to juggle work and family life and church. Selfless. Loving. Whenever my mother got pregnant, my father did the laundry and cooked our meals. He’d also take us with him for hospital visits to my mom and our new sibling.
Of course, my father was not without shortcomings. Slow to anger, he’d also run out of patience with us kids (seldom though) – so with eyes glaring, he’d order us to a corner or upstairs to our room. Or tapped our butts with his leather slippers. Ouch!
On the road when driving (when he was still much able to), bad drivers and traffic tested his patience, irking him- but never to the point where he’d yell or rage. You’d better be sure though to keep your seat belt fastened. Sometimes, he can be obstinate to a fault too. That’s his human side.
A faithful husband
devoted family man
loving, patient father
now a doting grandfather/great-grandfather –
that’s who my father is,
I could list a litany of praises and accolades
but words will never be enough
to depict this wise, saintly, God-fearing man
that is my father.
And no one can ever fill my father’s shoes.