Last Friday, you would have celebrated your 107th birthday. I wonder if you celebrate birthdays in heaven.
I do not have much memories with you. Mom did say you used to pass by the house and visit me as a baby. Turns out, you still drove a car at 80. I feel so good about knowing you used to spend time just to look at me sleep. I wonder if you carried me a lot because I happened to love being carried as a baby and as a toddler.
I do have a picture of you holding me. I looked so small in the arms that had fought battles and wrote books and letters fighting for war veterans. I will not sugarcoat things. You have had blood on your hands, fighting for the land and for the people you have sworn to protect with your life. But, look at how gentle your hands and arms were as you carried me. I guess even the mightiest heroes have gentleness in them too.
I remember visiting you in Fort Bonifacio from time to time. You were this huge man who, even at over 80, still demanded respect when he stood. Eventually though, you were always in bed. How many times were you in and out of the hospital? Ah. Even the strongest fall. But, I wish you were stronger for a little longer.
The last memory I had of you, I accidentally stepped on your swollen toes when I went near you to kiss you. You cried out of pain and I ran a high fever afterwards because of fright. I still regret being clumsy to this day. I would have wanted a much nicer last memory with you. But, you showed me how strong you roared. I wonder how much stronger you did when you were in the battlefield and barking orders. I guess you can take a soldier out of a war, but you can’t take the soldier out of the man.
Let’s admit it, Abuelito. You are no perfect man. You left a lot of broken hearts in your trail and Abuelita’s was one of them. I never really understood that side of you. I never ever will. Sometimes, I wish I could ask you why you were the way you were.
Despite your flaws, I always looked for parts of me that mirrored parts of you. That’s how much I looked up to you. I find that I have your nose and your left dimple. Maybe the shape of your face too and the wide forehead. But, that’s pretty much it. It’s my sister who got the twinkle in your eyes–the one I have always wished I got as well.
Mom said you were a little knock-kneed like me and that we walked the same. If you only knew how much I got teased in school for that. But, it’s okay. I eventually learned to accept parts of me that I was born with and could not do anything about. I am sure the way you walked just added to your charm. I just hope your knees did not give you a difficult time during the war though.
Mom also said I got my generosity from you, recalling that your house was like an extension of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. There were those who paid for your legal services in the form of animals and food. And along the way, you made some really good friends. One of them even had the marble cross for your grave made just for you.
I was told that when soldiers retire, they get promoted one level. You retired as a general but wanted your cross to bear colonel instead. Mom said it’s because you believe that you did so much more as a colonel. Your humility made me respect you even more.
I really wish you got to stick around for much longer. I would have loved having a grandpa. I lost the other one when I was five. I lost you when I was eight. I missed out on a lot.
I would have loved showing you all of my accomplishments and showering you with hugs. I would have loved listening to your stories, regardless if they were about the war you fought in or your battles in court. I would have loved you so much.
I wish I were as courageous as you. I wish I could demand even only a tenth of the respect you could when you were alive. Your strong personality seems to have all gone to my sister. Hahaha…
I miss you so much, Abuelito. You have not visited me in my dreams for a while now. I hope you’re still watching over us.
One day, I will see you again. I hope not too soon though because I still have a lot of things I want to do. But, when that day comes, you and I will have an awfully good time.
Hugs and kisses,