Empty sala and word puzzles

An empty sala filled with family memories

Whenever I see an empty sala, just like the photo above of a resort’s lobby where I was billeted for a cable convention a few years back, it reminds me of the day I lost my father. I may have had a love and hate relationship with my tatay, but I can’t help but miss the strictest and OC person I know in my entire life. Being the youngest, I would walk at least two kilometers to buy him three newspapers almost every morning, a broadsheet and tabloids. He reads them while in the toilet for hours and solves all the word puzzles, English and Tagalog. Word puzzles that still puzzle me that I couldn’t solve or finish as he did, but I’m lucky to have been influenced by his smarts, especially my interest in reading. My father’s not perfect, he wasn’t trying, but he always made our family his priority, and as we celebrate Father’s Day, I’d like to honor him as the best and smartest in his own right.

On that fateful day my father felt dizzy and fell on the concrete floor while working as a car mechanic, he was rushed to the nearest hospital where he never woke up and later succumbed to a bad stroke. The doctors warned us ahead that my father had a small chance of survival and might already be brain dead, but days before he passed away, I held his hand and felt that he’s in pain but didn’t want to let go. I told my wife I’m not going to cry. But the day I got the call from my sister to say the bad news nobody wants to hear, I was at home in our sala, I was choking my words and couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye.

It was the longest two weeks of my life. I was in denial, I actually went to work to keep myself busy until my boss sent me home. The reality of losing a loved one is unbearable. I can only whisper a prayer that at least he’s out of pain and now in peace. That he’s looking over us.

I still couldn’t solve a word puzzle but I thought I made him proud if he knew how I worked my way up to where I am today. When I became a father myself, I took inspiration from how he took his work seriously to provide what’s best for the family, and always the priority.

So if your father or both your parents are still around, grab every chance you get to spend time with them and show them how much they are loved. Don’t keep the sala empty, fill it with unforgettable moments. And while you’re at it, why not solve word puzzles together.

Here’s to our amazing fathers, cheers!


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