Friday, December 28, 2018

Letters to Marge & Maddie: Chapter 51 (Let Your Old Man Vent a Little This Year’s End)


The age of forty five is a strange one. Of course, any year can and will seem strange if one chooses to see it as such. It is not my birthday. But the past year saw me hit the 45 mark. So nonetheless, kindly indulge me.
The creeping reality that has begun haunting me is that even the most reasonably healthy people usually live up to "only" their early 90s. And that is being quite generous. Even Iceland, which boasts the highest average life expectancy, clocks in an average of 87 years of age.

So yes, this is as midlife as midlife can get. And maybe even a little past that.

This is where one finds one's self at the proverbial tipping point, where the arrow of one's emotions invariably toggle to and fro between a sense of contentment and accomplishment at having gotten this far, whether by luck, birthright, or both, to a swirling haze of frustration, regret, and melancholy. Brought about also by some random concoction of luck, circumstance, and probably more than a handful of decisions i would have decided differently if i knew then what i know now.

Or maybe not.

While there is the knowledge in the back of one's head that sooner than later, it would be time to start winding one's personal party down bit by bit, that is not what weighs down upon me. I miss the innocence. I miss the dreams that once seemed so easily reachable. I miss the brashness and optimism of my youth. I miss the promise of possibility simply because i was still too ignorant to know what lay ahead.

I remember an old cartoon short that featured Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. The latter was led out running over the edge of a cliff, but somehow did not fall down. Bugs warns Elmer of his pending doom by pointing down, and simply saying: "Gravity." To which Elmer just waves it off, while nonchalantly stating that he "hasn't studied gwavity yet."

Knowledge does weigh upon one's dreams. The more you know, the more real things become, along with all the trappings that come with it. And thus, one grows up. And every morning is a wake up call to a reality we sometimes wish we can just sleep through.

I miss not feeling weary from my failures, thinking foolishly that the best is yet to come, because... i was still young. But i live still, and the things i am working in and on still live. Some barely, some quite well. Again sometimes because of luck, circumstance, and whatever came of decisions made. Whichever way, they are what they are now, and tomorrow is still another day.

But i am thankful. I am thankful for a life lived with a heart tempered by time, made stronger by scars, and most importantly, a heart now unafraid to bleed for those he wants to bleed for.

I am thankful, because the proverbial glass has been half-full with many good things. And while many dreams remain half-baked, the oven is thankfully still warm. So we keep baking.

I am thankful for friends near and far. You will be, too. But make sure you make time for them, just like they too will make time for you. Sometimes when you need them the most.

I am thankful for our larger extended family, no matter how imperfect. When they are at their worst, they fuel me. When they are at their best, they make me believe in human redemption, and why dogs will always be one of the best judges of character.

I am thankful, because i sit here tonight, quietly typing away at this piece over a week after i've gotten started at it. Thankful for this evening, which gave me time with you guys and your mom. Thankful for all the laughter tonight. The music we played on Marge's violin. The tunes Maddie screamed out to the iPad just to see the voice indicator move. The songs and passages i have been blaring out on my saxophones.

I am thankful that i can glance at you three sleeping soundly all snuggled up, while i listen to your dreaming murmurs.

Yes, this is as midlife as midlife can get.
And i am here with you.


So despite of the things going on that seem to be hanging by a thread, despite the personalities and politics that surround my life, despite all the things i wish i am and am not, and still wish i will be, and all the things i have done and have not...

I am thankful.
And after tomorrow, it will be another year.
Happy New Year.


'Catch you later.

Love,

Dad

Monday, December 17, 2018

Letters to Marge & Maddie: Chapter 50 (2018 Has Been a Most Musical Year)

Greetings, girls.

My oh my, how you both have grown!
Like i said in the title of this entry, 2018 has been a most musical year for us all.

Sometime earlier this year, Maddie was found running off to the piano on her own, and pounding away vigorously. Marge continues her violins lessons, while somehow already tinkering melodies on the piano that she has learned by ear alone.

We are not prodigies, sadly. But the love of music is evident, and as imperfect as it is, it shines bright in our home.

And i am filled with joy in anticipation of what you two will bring soon.

'Catch you guys later.

Love,

Dad


Monday, April 10, 2017

Letters to Maddie: Chapter 49 (Keep Singing Your Heart Out)

Hello, Maddie!

Been quite a while i have not visited. I've explained why in a previous post.
But anyways, this is amusing.

Hi, Marge! Of course you can read this, too. :)
But yes, i am directing this one more pointedly towards your sister.

tight shot from aforementioned
beach house
Because one morning on the way to your grandmother's beach house, Maddie just kept singing one or two songs over and over. Songs were by either Taylor Swift or Katy Perry. I'm not sure.
So, Maddie...
i was spying you through the rearview mirror, and caught you singing along, while alternately looking out the window and on the iPod. You had no care whatsoever whether or not we were listening, whether you were in tune (mostly yes), whether you got the words right (mostly no)... You were just having a little time of your life and loving music.
It was an absolute joy to witness.

DJ Maddie
And i wish that you remain so for the rest of your life: uncaring for criticism, and simply living the moment.
Oftentimes, as people get older, they worry too much about what other people think and say. And many who do end up paralyzed with fear of shame and public opinion. I hope you never do.

So yes, keep singing.

'catch you both later.



Love,

Dad.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Letters to Marge & Maddie: Chapter 48 (Well, hello there...)

Good morning, my dear girls.

When i started writing this, it's almost 10am here in Baguio on a gloomy, rainy, grey Saturday morning. i wake up with the usual slight groin discomfort which seems to be more commonplace lately. But your mom and i have our regular annual-bi-annual check-up coming up in a week or so. So hopefully, we will get the usual news that everything's normal as normal can be considering the circumstances.
To the left of this photograph is the group of jars for my morning drink: coffee, brown sugar, and Milo. Those are two boiled eggs which i suddenly decided i would like to have this morning.



Now it's a quarter to 11 and i'm already at the store. i expect to hopefully finish by 11am to do some rounds and earn my keep, so to speak.

i slept at a wee bit past 3am earlier today/last night because i had so much work to do, and i sort of ended the evening/early morning with fixing more of the literally thousands of photographs im going through for printing. Your mother is old-fashioned and still wants prints of our family and vacation photos. i'm not objecting at all. But it IS a lot of work.

I was hoping to sleep in 'til about 9am to hopefully get around 6 hours of sleep at least. It is a Saturday after all, and your grandmother is supposedly on her merry way down to one of her beach houses. So since she's the main focus and reason of having to be at the store early, i guess i COULD sleep in a bit, right? But... as luck would have it, she rings me up at exactly 7:28am. Surprisingly, i also your grandfather on call-waiting during the tail-end of this phone call.
me getting this blog post started.

this is what those eggs looked like before i ate them
Your grandmother was calling to tell me that it was raining bad, and that i need not trouble myself with visiting her down there tonight for dinner, and that she would need one of the househelps to stay at her house since was dragging every one of her own helps down with her. And also to ask me (again) if i can take care of myself lunch-wise. (Update: your Uncle Wilson just called telling me they are going to country club for lunch and was inviting me. i hate going to the country club. Every so often i agree to the invitation, but today i happily declined.)

Your grandfather was calling about a piece of property that her sister (your great aunt) is selling, and about who was buying it, how much it was worth, etc. etc... He also called to tell me that his prostate biopsy was going to be this coming Wednesday. He sounded all like his jolly self, but not quite. Hell, the word "biopsy" is scary for anyone. Hopefully, i wont be writing here again anytime soon about that. No news is good news, guys.

Then the phone call barrage continues in the form of your very own mom who is bemoaning the basement water pumps which suddenly decided to conk out in unison. So your mom is stressed out with visions of a flooded basement, and she is calling me to tell me just because. Yep, just because.
This was followed by a couple more phone calls from your mother again about things i have absolutely no power over. But anyways...

Another couple of phone calls from your grandmother later, your mother calls again telling me that its 9am and that i should forget any notion of any further sleeping. So i do get up, and proceed to start off this gloomy weekend.

Point of this story? Always take the phone calls from people you love. Many times, we don't feel like making that phone call. But at the very least, let's pick them up. Not because you we need them. But more importantly, because THEY might need US. And yes, your mom and i WILL call you from time to time. DO pick up.


'Catch you later.

Love you both so much.

Dad
No connection to the above story. Just a gratuitous family photo from our East Coast vacation. This was the Niagara Falls leg. But i guess you guys know that from the view of the background, right?




Thursday, July 02, 2015

Letters to Marge & Maddie: Chapter 47 (Happy Birthday to me... again)



Dear Marge and Maddie,

Hi, guys. By tomorrow (or today, or a few days ago, depending on when i get to finish this post since I've been writing less and much more slowly lately), I will be forty two years old. Yeah, happy birthday to me. Again.

And yes, thankfully, it has been quite happy by most standards.

But there's always something about birthdays in one's forties that makes one dwell a little more on one's mortality than usual. It's in these years when one keeps bravely planning ahead while secretly continuing to kindle the fires of old undying dreams, while also quietly stopping to catch one's self in the mirror more and more often. Counting the lines that run deeper and deeper every summer with a mixture of tired resignation and more than a speck of mortal dread.

Or sometimes, one looks at one's own lines and sees traces of a life so beautifully imperfect, yet glisteningly colorful and less bitter than sweet.

That stuff they say about appreciating warmth after the cold, and vice versa? No light without darkness, and other similar wisey stuff? They're right. And that's what has helped make my life so wonderful. The ups and downs, the moments of having and not, the periods of crazy compressed activity that have made me more appreciative of the quiet moments of life. The fear of loss, which made me hold on like my life depended on it. And depend on it it did.

Can i ask the universe for more? Of course. That's part of what life is about. The continuance of dreaming. One asks and works for what one asks for, while never forgetting to nurse quiet contentment all throughout. And here I ask for a long and healthy life for you both, and your mother. I ask that we will continue to be surrounded by more people who wish us well than ill. I ask that we continue to be put at the right place and right time to be right there when people need us. I ask for so much more. But most of all, i ask that we never lose the state of gratefulness for everything that fills the halls of our home.

And grateful i am right now as i write this. And so as last year, happy birthday to me indeed.

'Catch you later.

Love,

Dad

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Letters to Marge & Maddie: Chapter 46 (Happy. Birthday, Maddie!)



Dear Marge and Maddie,

First of all, a belated happy second birthday, Maddie!
Your mom, sister and I wish and hope that you enjoyed all that "Frozen" merchandise: "Frozen"cake, "Frozen" dolls, and other little "Frozen" stuff.
But anyway, more than the late birthday greeting, I'm writing to you about something else. Around last October, your mom and I took you guys to one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's called "El Nido." You, Maddie were only a year and eight months old at the time, while Big Sis Marge was a little over six.
We always get a lot of this whole "you-don't-bring-little-kids-out-on-vacations-and-out-of-town" thing. They always say it isn't worth it, since they say that you guys probably won't remember a thing about them. Science actually says that they're probably right. The chances of you remembering any of that trip to El Nido is extremely unlikely.

I've actually posted something like this not too long ago here.

But you see this picture here? This is a happy Maddie playing in the sea, frolicking in the sand, and having a generally wonderful time. Maybe they're right and you won't remember this. You won't remember what the corals look like. Well, mostly since you didn't exactly go underwater anyways. You probably won't remember how beautiful the beach was, or how sparkling to ocean was. You probably won't remember the boat rides. You probably won't remember much or probably anything at all. But...

Maybe your mind won't remember, but somehow I'm sure that no matter how old you will eventually get (and i hope you BOTH get to live to a reeeeeeeally ripe old age), somewhere in your heart, you will remember there was that happy time at the beach. And that though you don't or won't remember much detail, like what we ate, what you saw, or whatever, somehow I'm sure that in that happily hopping heart of yours, the laughter that you had in those days will go on and on, and those echoes will keep your heart healthy, and will help you learn to love life a little more.

So by the time you read this you probably won't remember any of that at all. Of course, there will always be the pictures. But your mother and I, and probably your big sister will surely remember how happy we were watching you have all that fun.

But most importantly we will all remember how happy we were that we were all together.

'Catch you later.

Love you,
Dad

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Letters to Marge & Maddie: Chapter 45 (Happy. New Year, Ladies)

Dearest Marge and Maddie,

It was an exceptionally beautiful evening.

And the black velvet sky dusted with tiny crystal shards blanketed the world and sung soundless lullabies heard only with one's captivated eyes.

It was one such evening where your mother and i would sit around and discuss "this-and-thats." One such "this-and-that" was that another year was about to end and yet another beginning. I told her we would be hitting forty two in the coming year, and that i felt old. She said she didn't, and that age was merely a number.

Your mother then asked why i felt old. And i said i felt so, because i feel that i've been having a good run at life. Not because my body felt rusty or creaky and so on. Although i have had my spells of that. But because life has been immeasurably kind to me and us. In fact, i said i enjoyed feeling slightly old. For me, feeling old also meant i carry with me all the beautiful years i've lived. The colorful happy-crazy years i had growing up with my friends and even my brothers before youth ended, the challenging yet thoughtful years discovering myself, the beautiful years with your mother, the even more joyful years when you guys arrived, and many more coming along so far.

Yes, simply put, it has been a good life. A life i am thankful for. So sometimes when you guys catch me i saying i feel old then smile, that's actually me thanking God for what a wonderful life i've been blessed with.

Decades from now, i wish you too will feel old the way i do.
And yes, it's another year. Happy 2015, ladies. Let's all have a good one.
'Catch you later.
Love,

Dad