This week marks my father’s death anniversary. For close to 40 years he worked in a Jesuit institution as a teacher, administrator, and consultant.
His passion had always been teaching, but to honor the request of my widowed grandmother, he followed in his father’s footsteps. He finished his law degree, passed the bar exams… and then went back to teaching.
I was very fortunate to attend the same Jesuit university that he served. Because he was just a parking lot and a soccer field away, it was easy to schedule lunch dates with him.
Unbeknownst to my mom and my siblings, my dad and I would go to a Japanese restaurant in EDSA. We had a favorite hole-in-a-wall restaurant in Greenbelt, but that was too far to go to for lunch. We settled for the one closer to school, and would order tekka maki, California sushi, and tempura. He loved salmon sashimi.
I would think that we talked about how I was doing in school over lunch, but I really don’t remember. What I remember vividly is the table where we usually sat, the food that we ordered, and the happiness I felt of having that special moment with him. Our little secret.
When I was a senior in high school, I told him that I wanted to major in Math (gasp!). If you know me, you know that I am terrible in math. My math grades show that. My brother who tutors me knows that. But, my supportive dad just said, “Sure, if that’s what you think you would like to do.”
Mind you, not once did he say, “Really?!?” or “Have you seen your math scores lately?” or “You are not that smart, dearie!” Instead we talked about why I thought Math was it.
In the end, it became clear to me what I really liked to do —and learning about parabolas was not it. My dad didn’t wait for me to fail miserably (because I would have), but he didn’t tell me what to do either. He let me figure it out.
My father lived a simple and committed life. I know that I am a better teacher and mother because of him.