birthday gift for papa
I could sense by the way my father anxiously wake me up that there was something wrong. But I was too sleepy to get up. Like almost every night in my life, I slept late the night before. I felt certain that someone should pass a bill prohibiting anyone to wake up someone else in a deep slumber.
I caught a glimpse of what was happening in the living room. Someone was putting bandages on my father's left arm but I was too irritated to care. I was told that my father was bitten by Rockstar, my 14-month old Labrador retriever and someone is needed to take him to a hospital or whatever to get an anti-rabies shot. But since my mother have gone the day before with my Aunt Nancy, who arrived from Wisconsin the other day, to Bicol, that someone needs to be me
I was still feeling anoyed when my father and I headed to a nearby clinic. I didn't even have the nerve to take a look at his wounded arm beneath that poorly arranged bandage. I knew I could have put it on on him perfectly being very much acqauinted with the process being a nurse's son and all but I half-believed it could be that serious. Labradors are known to be gentle on humans and I even secretly blamed him for being so stupid to get in the middle of a dog fight. Rockstar earlier battled again with my half-Dachschund, half-native dog, Goliath.
I was even more pissed off when we found out that the clinic was closed on weekends. We had no choice but to go to PGH, where my mom works. It was only inside the cab that I've realized it is going to be my father's birthday on the following day. What an opportune time to be bitten by a dog. It was also his beloved association's christmas party on that evening. He told me he would wear barong tagalog so his arm would be hidden. Clever.
Arriving at the emergency room of the Philippine General Hospital, I felt how it was like to be a normal citizen (in that respect, at least). Mama wasn't there and so was the usual special treatment. I doubt if anyone would have believed that we were an immediate family of a head nurse working there, I was wearing the very thing I wore in my sleep.
It was also until then that I've realized the severity of my father's wound. I appeared dumbfounded as the nurse attending to us painstakingly try to remove the bandage my father's nephew had placed earlier. There were bits of garlic underneath it as a large portion of his flesh was exposed. I swear I would see his bones if I had the courage to look closely.
I felt so bad after that, I felt like hiding my face in shame. Then I began contemplating on the things I have done against my father, his depression and my coldness towards him. We were never the perfect father-and-son tandem, we never even get close to that. Growing up, he didn't have much time for me that we were never really close. I get jealous of others who brought along their own fathers in father-and son camps in high school while I have my eldest cousin by him as a proxy. We never did the same things father and son do. He was a perfect example of someone literally there, but figuratively never there. For him, there was always a recognizable line between fathers and his children. It never occured to him that we could also be friends. And I've always hated him for that.
At that special moment, I felt the long-forgotten longing I have for him. I knew it was an opportunity for me to make him feel that I also love him. In his usual tirade of speeches over dinner, he would point out that we make him feel useless after he lost his job. But though I knew I perfectly understood where he was coming from, I also know that I never gave the effort to make him realize that and make him feel that he is still the man of the house and he is still as important to us as he was before.
As we headed to the exit, I even felt worse when he thanked me for being there. I didn't feel like I deserved it but he seemed so happy saying that. I felt the need of treating him to a lunch over at Wendy's after we bought his medicines and I just couldn't remember the last we dined out alone together. I just hope it's not yet too late for the two of us. I hope we could still be the father-and-son I have always dreamed us to be.