My father is the kind of man I’ve always dreamed of: kind to the weak, fierce to the arrogant, generous to those who loved him, ruthless to those who will order him around.
Today as a whole nation of sons and daughters pause to remember their fathers, I thought of how little I really know about my own father.
You see, my first knowledge of the world about life came to me through my senses insofar as they were directed by my mother. She was the first one I saw, the first thing I felt, the first thing upon which I depended for security the day I was born, when everything made me cry… in a desperate wail about hunger, light, anger.
But my father, he was my first love. Even long after interests and attachments may have faded and changed, I still retain the vivid impression of that first love. Indeed, that first love may have dictated the dimensions of the other loves I’ve come to know.
He was a puissant guardian of the law who advocated respect for the laws of God and men, yet when I found myself (which was often) in conflict with the world, the lawyer in him will oppose the world to defend my own.
Corollary to this, if he should happen to be guilty of an error in judgment his confusion is caused by love, as philosophers have taught us, maybe blind. He was, nevertheless, almost the only dependable source of sympathy and refuge.
When I was very young, my father was the universe, the handsomest man in the world, a safe harbor in time of storm; and through my years of growing (if at all, I did grow up), whenever trouble might come, I realized the ability to solve the problems of the present and facing the future unafraid was because I have known the tender security of a father’s love.
He taught me that a man who professes to love you wouldn’t promise the moon, but he will show you the moon. Then, I didn’t notice the difference, only years later in my adult life when I realized what he meant. What people called love between a man and a woman is just a season, and if at its flowering, this season is a feast of greenery and sweet blossoms at its waning, it is only a heap of rotting leaves.
He did not point a shotgun at anyone who frightened me. He wasn’t a poet and didn’t know how to say lofty, lyrical and beautiful things the way my mother quoted poetic splendor. Instead, he echoed the profound and the bold epics of Homer, to “experience” the best in human thought and behavior, their capabilities and foibles through the mirthful satires of Aristophanes, the poignant gripping dramas of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus. The all-encompassing philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, the keen histories and self-criticism of Herodotus. He believed and inculcated in me, that the Greeks said it first and said it well.
In my studies of Philosophy and Journalism at UST’s Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, my introduction to Socrates was how a father established the nature of pure virtue. It is also the desire for beautiful things and the ability to provide them without being chopped into fragments such as temperance, justice and piety. In the eyes of every father, the childlike in us remain.
The world may one day know you as a self confident adult, a civic leader, a man of destiny, but no matter how you change, no matter what time does to your face and soul. Your father carries forever within his heart a clear picture of you as you were, when at one day old, lying in this arms, as you were at four, playing in the carefree sunshine of your childhood.
One sad Sunday, my father left me—he died.