A farmers boy was telling his father how much he enjoyed working with him. He enjoyed farming and he wanted to farm for a living. His dad loved him, and he loved him enough to tell him that he should become more than a farmer.
So the farmer’s boy grew up, he met his wife, joined the Navy as an engineer, and left the Philippines for the first time. On December 15, 1987, at a Navy base in Japan, his wife gave birth to their first daughter. They named her Jennifer.
The young parents loved Jennifer and her older brother. They made many sacrifices and had humble dreams for them.
Jennifer loved her father and her father loved her. Sometimes, she felt like her father loved her more than her own brother. There was a time when she was reading a comic book while her brother was playing video games. Her father walked into the room and started yelling at her brother. “You should be reading like your sister!”
Jennifer’s father loved her unconditionally and gave her anything she wanted. When she wanted money, he would take out the last $20 in his wallet and give it to her. When her father came home from a long day of work, he would muscle up the energy, while sitting on the couch, to swing Jennifer on his feet like a seesaw. Jennifer loved it when her father would sing the seesaw song to her every time.
As Jennifer grew up, she started to notice that her father would be gone months at a time. She didn’t understand why or what it meant…
Mother was very strict, and Jennifer never listened. With anger and frustration, her mother would discipline her over and over again. Jennifer grew to not like her mother, and she started to feel indifferent about her father not being around.
In 1998, Jennifer’s father was leaving for another six months. This was normal, she understood that.
But in October 1998, Jennifer’s father did not come home. Instead, the captain of his ship came to visit her home. The captain sat down on the living room couch with Jennifer’s mother. Jennifer sat behind her mother and listened.
The captain told Jennifer’s mother that her father was no longer coming home. She didn’t understand what was happening, but she saw her mother start to cry profusely. Jennifer didn’t know how to react, so she looked to her mom and she forced herself to cry.
Jennifer’s family had to uproot themselves and settle in San Diego, CA. As time went on, Jennifer started to realize that her mother wasn’t going to give her the same unconditional love her father gave her. In fact, it was quite the opposite. For the next 17 years, Jennifer struggled to find the same unconditional love her father gave her.
Jennifer battled many psychological issues growing up. If dealing with fears of abandonment wasn’t enough, she was bullied and molested. She became the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and as she grew older, she constantly fell victim to the imposter syndrome.
In the early years when her father’s marker was placed at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Jennifer’s family would visit him every Sundays after church. Years went on and Jennifer’s family would visit him less, barely making it out on important holidays. Jennifer was frustrated to not see her father, but she didn’t know how to drive at the time. And even if she could drive, she didn’t know how to get to his cemetery.
Years went on and Jennifer continued with her life. Her love for her father became a distant memory, and she continued to struggle with the same issues.
It’s been 17 years since Jennifer lost her father. And despite all of her insecurities, she’s gained the confidence to embrace her accomplishments. She graduated college, she became an entrepreneur. She’s learned to enjoy the simple things in life. She works from home, focuses on living a clean and healthy lifestyle. She associates herself with people that uplift her and inspire her. It’s been a long time coming, but she’s rekindled her relationship with her mother. And she found God again.
In the last couple of years, when GPS became very accessible to her, she made an effort to visit her father on her own. It always felt like a day of escape and healing as she drove to the cemetery. Whenever she felt lost or she wanted to share good news, she would visit her father. She knew that he couldn’t talk back… But there was always something comforting in visiting him.
Jennifer had been hurt and bitter about many things for the last 17 years. But she’s come to learn that God has a plan for her even if she can’t see it in the moment. There may always be issues today that may stem back from Jennifer’s childhood experiences. She’s grown aware of this, she knows that she’s not alone, and she’s decided to focus on acceptance and healing.
December 19, 2015 is her father’s birthday. He would be 61 years old today if he was still alive. Today, Jennifer celebrates her father. She’ll never forget the sacrifices her father made. She’ll always remember the story her aunt told her about the farmer boy that left his home country to provide a better life for his wife and children. In the grand scheme of things, life wasn’t all that bad. And she cries on occasion, realizing that everything happens for a reason. She’s grown to love her life, and she wouldn’t trade it for anything else. She’s grateful that her father set the foundation for her family. And she’s grateful that her mother did everything in her power to raise three kids on her own.
Happy Birthday, dad. May you continue to rest in peace.