Yesterday, my Dad got a call from one of my aunts in his side of the family. She was inviting him to my grandmother's birthday celebration the next day. He just laughed. He got off the phone and asked me and my sister if we'd like to go. Of course, we said yes.
A few years back, such a simple family gathering ended up with tears and one sibling running after the other. I don't want to expound on that anymore, but it's pretty obvious that things have not been okay between my Dad and his family for several years. Feelings and resentment left unsaid, tears, and all that drama have maintained this gaping void between them. But yes, after years of reflecting and cooling down, this gaping void has been diminished, if not totally eradicated.
With our driver in tow (because my Dad has problems driving at night due to his declining vision), we went to Cubao for my grandmother's 89th birthday celebration. She'll be turning 89 on the 7th, but the family decided that it would be better if they had the gathering today to make sure everybody could come. With everybody, they meant everybody. As we stepped inside my grandmother's house, all eyes were on us. But those weren't the cold, glassy, and suspecting stare you get from doing something wrong. Those stares were more like the warm and welcoming stare you get from your family after returning home from a long journey. Yes, from that moment, I felt it. As they approached us, giving one beso to one aunt and doing the respectful mano to an uncle, we made our way back into the family my Dad has so long turned his back on.
It all started from there. The usual "Ang laki mo na" and the "Dalaga na si Joyce" welcomed me. Of course, I expected to hear that from them. The last time they saw me was when I was still in high school. Questions were then asked about my studies and other stuff. They were even asking about my love life! I surprised them with my quick and dignified response when they asked me if I had a boyfriend already. But it seems like one of my aunts was already very updated through Facebook. They were really open about things. And I loved it. They were old people, and yet, they were very cool to talk to. I enjoyed it. My cousins were there, too. I also got to talk to them though they wanted to remain silent most of the time. I was able to converse more with my aunts and uncles. Wait, does that mean I'm really old now?
|My Dad with my three aunts :) (two of them are doctors!)|
|My Dad, my aunts, and my grandparents|
|With my Dad, cousins, aunts, and grandparents|
Food (a lot of it) was consumed, pictures were taken, and stories were shared. But, sadly, we had to leave before sundown given that we live farther south and our driver apparently has difficulty driving at night as well. (For the last part, I think my Dad invented that just to leave the party early.) Before leaving, we went to my grandparents' room to say goodbye. My grandfather's really weak already. He's a war veteran. And I'm really proud to say that he's one of the few soldiers who survived the infamous Death March back in the Japanese era. Now he's just lying in bed. He can't even see well anymore. We had to introduce ourselves just so he'd know that we're there. My grandmother, despite not being able to walk anymore, is still kind of strong. She can still see and her memory's still really, really sharp. She's still very talkative, too! So there, we said goodbye to them with hugs and kisses. My grandmother insisted that we should go there more often. My Dad just said yes.
|My Grandma blowing the candle on her birthday cake|
|With some of my cousins (From L-R: ML, JM, Me, Tala, Criselda)|
As we made our way out of the house and to our car, all of them (except for my grandparents, of course) accompanied us. It took us about 15 more minutes before we could actually leave because people were still chatting with each other. And after the final 15 minutes, we were on our way--southbound.
I had so much fun today. I felt really good talking to my aunts, uncles, and other relatives. Everything about the bitter past has been forgotten, and only the good remain. I was sad that we had to go early. I really wanted to stay longer. Maybe on the next family gathering, we'll be there, too.
As we made our way home, I reflected on the day's events and on how glad I am about this reconciliation between my Dad and his family. I'm glad my Dad decided to forget about the past and just let things be better for him, for his siblings, and for his family. I think he's happy with this, too.
But I'll never forget the tears I saw rolling down my Dad's cheeks as he hugged and kissed his mother goodbye.