Here's the little speech I gave during my Papa's final day, right before the cremation ceremonies.
In a 5 year span from 2000 to 2005, I lost 2 grandparents: Papa Ernie in 2000, and Mama Mory in 2005, both my mother’s parents. But age wasn’t on my side yet. Losing my grandfather, I was 8, and losing my grandmother, I was 12, still too young, too naïve, too carefree to understand my surroundings.
Those losses, though, never felt so heavy. They didn’t carry much weight then when they came around. This recent subtraction to my family, however, hit me more than anything I’ve experienced.
Papa Fred and I never had a vocal relationship. Whenever we’re together, one can probably count the words we exchanged using the fingers in both hands and feet. It is during these instances where I see the bond between us, the common dominant trait we have: quietness.
I remember one afternoon in June when I went to their house. I was sitting with Mama and Papa outside the house near the garage area. We were chatting just like we always do when I am there: I speak very little, Papa speaks very little, and Mama dominates the conversation. Everything was normal. Suddenly, the phone rang, and for a good 3 minutes, Mama was on the phone. During those 3 minutes, I never said a word to Papa, not because I didn’t want to talk to him; I just didn’t have anything to say to him. And conversely, he didn’t say anything to me, either. During that whole session with them, I only asked Papa one question: “Kumusta ka na, ‘Pa?” to which he said, “OK lang naman.”
This was how our relationship ran through the years: dominated by silence.
But in no way did I ever feel that he didn’t love me. Quite the opposite actually.
It was in this way, in being the soft-spoken person he is, that he became the best example to me and Apa. He became a passive role model. He taught me subtly that I don’t need to be heard and seen all the time to make an impact. There is beauty in simplicity, and in this case, he has taught me that much can be said without really saying anything.
The gentleness Papa showed the world is one of a kind, to me and to my family. In my 19 years of existence, not once did I see or hear him angry at anyone. I never even sensed any negativity with him. He always wore this cool demeanor which seems to be impenetrable, that no matter what one did to him, no matter how terrible it was, Papa will never break down and get mad.
It was unmatched patience, the kind of patience I wish I had.
One of his favorite pastimes was watching boxing. Whoever was on, as Awo said, he would watch, whether it was a superstar like Floyd Mayweather, or a no-namer from Mexico. And for this, I would dare compare him to a boxing great. Papa’s character is something to behold. A man with that kind of patience and calmness does not come around every day. He is just like boxing’s Manny Pacquiao. Papa is the hero, the champion of the family: a humble man with a great character. And just like Manny, it would take another lifetime before someone can emulate Papa.
Papa Fred was a very peaceful man who met a very peaceful end. I always think that maybe Heaven just needed a handyman, and no one else is better suited for the job than Papa. He has finally arrived right where he truly belongs: with the Grandest Father of all, our almighty God.
Papa, you will surely be missed. You may be gone physically, but the memory you left will never die. Don’t worry about Mama. There are 7 of us left to take care of her, most especially me and Apa. Thank you for leaving us a blueprint of how to act, as a person, as a son, as a spouse, as a father, and as a grandfather. We love you, I love you, and your memory is still, and will always be, very much alive in our hearts.