We have just buried my father after he suffered from a brain stroke after his prostate operation.
During the wake, my brother told me, “You are lucky you have not been with us for a long while and you were not with father”.
What he meant is I would not miss Father that much because we have not been together daily and I would not feel the impact of him being gone since I only visit during my annual vacations, which I would admit are short and not really intimate.
But am I really lucky?
Am I really lucky, that I had to work abroad and be an OFW, to help my husband support our family? I know I am lucky that I have not seen how he suffered from his illness and that it will not haunt me in my sleep. I know I am lucky that when he needed financial assistance for his operation, I was the daughter who has the means to help.
But is it really luck, that because I was away I could not remember when was the last time we had a deep conversation about life, his remaining aspirations for us and for the family, and his thoughts about me?
As I think about it, I am envious that my brother got to spent more time with our father. He got to know him better than I do. He would tell his children stories about him that I never knew about. He has served him, cared for him and showed him his love.Somehow, he was able to repay all of Dadi’s hard work in raising us. He heard more of his pangaral and advice. He will have more vivid memories of him unlike me who regrettably lost all chances.
As I leave our place and fly back to my country of work, my mind would search for those important if not sweet memories with him. My thoughts would try to summon the best days spent with him from my childhood, teenage and adult years. They will be scant and blurry.
My brother on the other hand, would be reminded of him by merely looking at my mother. Every corner of the house would remind him of father. The things that he does would be associated with how father does the same thing. Seemingly as if father is still besides him and his voice he would still hear and he would grieve longer than I would.
While for me, it was all but a bad dream. I am back to work and ready to face the challenges of an OFW worker. I could pretend Dad is still at home waiting for me to come home.
Such is for most of us OFWs.