Yesterday, Friday, June 25, was Daddy's Day Out.
I was careful not to spill too much information or get too excited lest I jinx the event. Mom had asked me to drive her to San Fernando, Pampanga, to visit the wake of Dad's elder officemate who, at 89, had still been reporting for work until about 4 months ago, when her sense of direction failed her and left her stranded in Philcoa when she was supposed to be in Malabon (she lived in Paranaque). Mom initially thought that maybe it wasn't a good idea to break the sad news to Dad, whom we were trying to cheer up since he had been mostly quiet and glum here at home. I suggested to Mom to at least tell Dad about it, and maybe with his indifference he would just shrug it off but appreciate the update.
Surprise, surprise! He wanted to join us in Pampanga. I was ecstatic! This guy wouldn't even want to walk to the dining room and seemed to prefer to do everything from his bed, and now he was eager to ride with us on a 2-hour out of town trip! I immediately rang my Ate and asked her to join us so we could also visit her resthouse and maybe have lunch there. She was thrilled as well to hear that he wanted to go out, and worked her schedule to have the four of us spend the morning and lunch in Pampanga.
Dad was easy to wake up that morning, and we were off by 11am. We drove through the new NLEX exit via Mindanao Avenue (it was great!) and were in San Fernando in no time. Ate set the radio to a station that played oldies, and we hoped it would evoke happy memories in Dad's mind. He slept; perhaps it set the perfect background for dreams of when he was young. Definitely, it did just that for me, as I remembered the time when I was a little girl of 8, buckled up in the front seat, with Dad driving to Malabon, and the strains of Julio Iglesias' suave voice played in the car.
We got to the funeral parlor, and I paid close attention for any signs of distress or depression in Dad's eyes. He kept it hidden until when we were about to leave; secretly, I watched him look lovingly at the coffin, with moist eyes.
We had a lovely lunch of corn soup, grilled hito and tilapia, warm rice and a side of steamed vegetables and burong dalag! I think I was the one who ate the most (I even beat the driver since he was interrupted to drive to buy merienda, hehe)! But it was ok for Dad to have a modest fill so he could have space for Razon's halo-halo and palabok a few hours later! It was nice to stay at my Ate's house. It had the same feel as the house in Malabon. I put on a CD of Tony Bennett for Dad. His eyes glistened with tears again and gazed into another world as he sat contemplatively in his wheelchair. I began to worry that this trip may have been too emotionally draining for him, but he did not complain. My fears were put to rest in the evening when we went to Living Life Well, a holistic health center, despite the heavy downpour and the late schedule (9pm).
The moment Dad saw the good doctor, his face brightened up. The hours out in the sun did wonders for his skin, his cheeks blushing. He opened up when the doctor asked about his day, and Dad was talkative! There was not a sad note in his recollection of the day's events, and was even eager to go on a couple more of such memory trips (next stop, Malabon and Canyon Woods!). He felt stronger, and when we lifted him from his seat to transfer him to the car, we felt him carrying his own weight. He was helping himself regardless of whose arm he held onto for support, which was in contrast to his usual "I want Mom" pleas for anything. He was even comfortable with Joe pushing the wheelchair for him :)
The rain persisted until we were home, and Dad was in the mood for a nightcap of mamon and coffee before going to bed. I began to think about the increasing number of kilometers I felt I needed to run after all the food I've been consuming, but it was always a good time to eat when Dad was in the mood, that it's worth all the extra pounds. The early morning nappy changing will probably compensate for it, anyway. This was a golden day! Thank you, Lord :)