I wanted to smother him with a pillow. My fingers were itching to grab one and push him down with it until he breathes no more. His anguished and most of the time angry screams have fueled that murderous rage in me.
But I couldn’t.
He, in his condition, managed to get drunk and hurled expletives my way because I had the nerve to throw away what was left of the local rhum. He went on to say that I studied in UP only to achieve nothing in life. He said I do not have greatness, something that UP people are thought to achieve as they go head on with the world. And in my sleepless state with one client backing out on me when the bills are piling up, I gripped the corners of the bed mattress opposite his angrily. I kept telling myself that it was the alcohol and the illness talking but he got to me. In that very instance, I wished he would die an instantaneous death. But there were no thunderbolts and he was still morosely glaring at me albeit in silence now. So I pictured grabbing the pillow that reeked of dried urine so I could kill him with it.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
Regardless of how frustrated I was or how extremely helpless I felt, I couldn’t bear to kill him. What was there to lose? It’s not like he still earns a living. He doesn’t feed me. He is no fun anymore. He can’t even be a great soundboard. And no he no longer gives his solid opinion on things. But I can’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t.
Because despite everything, he’s still my father. He may not be a perfect dad there is and his shortcomings pretty much eat up all the good things that he etched in his life’s record book, he still biologically makes up a huge part of me, and well, politically, socially, emotionally and spiritually too, I suppose.
My father suffered from a major cerebrovascular accident three years ago. We lowly lifeforms call it a stroke. It paralyzed the right side of his body and severely affected his speech. I know of a lot of people who got over something like this. There are others who even taught their functioning body parts to do most of the job. Some practically rose from the ashes to become newer and better versions of themselves.
But not my Pa, my sweetpeas. Nah-uh.
Like most men, my father took this turning point of his life lying down, literally. If three years ago he cursed at his Creator, the world, everybody else and whoever was in the room, or cried and lamented at how this new chapter of his lifebook took a turn, I would have understood. But he didn’t. He took it with an eerily complete submission that those who know him pre-stroke would swear that it is an absolute 180-degree pivot. I wasn’t surprised though. Delayed reaction, it may seem, but I can’t help but suspect that this is just an act of a scheming con artist because a year or so ago, the old Pa seems to have resurfaced sans the mobility and the paralysis-free physique—the result was an irreverent sick old man whose angst came in completely asshole proportions. The old cunning bastard is back—screaming and kicking, if only humanly possible for him. Manipulative as hell, an emotional blackmailer extraordinaire. It’s hard to explain but despite all these, there’s something about Pa’s ways that still makes him difficult to unlove, to me at least.
Years before D-Day, he became somebody different. You see, my father used to be the typical macho, brusque, rugged, sly, shrewd, man-of-the-streets kind of guy. He’s the rebel without a cause poster boy. Well, it’s never always a case of “without a cause.” He comes from rather extremely complicated family not that it’s fair to blame it all on the family all the time but for lack of something better to justify it with, let’s just take that. Also, his childhood was a textbook case for shrinks.
I’m only human and while I don’t want to use it as an excuse, there are simply things that sometimes I don’t get to take the wheel of. I get pissed off when he screams in seemingly perfectly scheduled unholy hours past midnight. I get that murderous urge when he calls on residents of hell to take him out of his misery and whatever else unthinkable. But at the end of the day, he’s still my father. He played a huge part in my childhood, some of it really bad but some were actually happy moments and quite preparatory for when I had to face the real world (like, right now?). As I always tell my nephew every time we have one of those aunt-to-nephew heart to heart talks that only those who have an awesome aunt-to-nephew closeness like we have can ever have, one can only blame his/her parents for whatever rough-ups he/she has had in his/her lifetime for so long. Despite all the Freudian analyses about how our parents are the root of all evil (and then some) in our lives, I believe we have that thinking and discerning capacity that eventually lets us decide which route to take as we get a bit older.
So my father isn’t the model dad. I’m no model daughter either. I do love Papa not only because there’s so much about me that I can only thank him for but because not everything about him is his undoing and if I take it all out in him, my children, if I ever get to have my own kids somehow, might do the same to me and I don’t want that Not that one or the other matters because in this life, regardless of the kind of relationship that we have, he’s another human being and no matter how awful some people might have been in their lifetime, no one deserves to be disrespected.
I guess I can only pray. For acceptance, for strength, for faith. For my Ma to be stronger. For her to live longer because I sure can’t face this alone. It’s one of those moments when being unmarried is a curse—gives me no excuse to opt out. I don’t go to church anymore for reasons that I have yet to precisely point a stubby finger on, but I do talk to God, and bless him, I believe he knows where I’m at where he’s concerned. I guess in times like this, it helps to have something to cling on to. Something. Someone.