THERE are days when us men realize our dads need caring. They’ve neglected themselves and are always worn out from work. We begin to worry, but are afraid to go drama queen on them, because it might look cheesy and over-the-top.
Big boys, sometimes, find it hard to articulate their feelings; it’s harder expressing our worries to other boys.
Nowadays, we don’t say “dude, take care” or “dude, you rest na,” lest we’re complicit in “bromance”. We’ve become so concerned of our sexuality and always felt the need to break our necks like a man.
But I’m falling short of my filial duty. And so I express it as macho as I know how, which is not to sound as soft and corny as my doting sister.
Here’s what I did:
Give him a glass of water
Doting on parents isn’t really amorphous—it’s as simple as giving them a glass of water.
But why I muster all my manly strength to wake up and serve pop in the middle of the night isn’t as much borne out of doting as of paranoia.
As a child, I heard a lot of stories of men, young and old, dying a sudden death in their beds.
I’ve felt this haunting vulnerability for my dad and eventually grown uber vigilant, having sleepless nights watching my father sleep.
Still, I do it very discreetly and in a way that is detached and macho. It’s not a scene from Sleeping Beauty.
When I learned that a drink before bedtime is all it takes to wean off nightmares, I’ve since been handing dad the quencher and with Enervon at the ready—all that and my momma’s endearing jealousy when I call her from my room to ask for a glass of water.
Spend time alone with dad
If dad and I ever bond, it’s not over bottles, but while watching TV.
He asks me about what I think about the news. Then he goes about reciting history and personal opinion I don’t want to hear to begin with. It’s out of the context. It’s obviously a silly move to initiate an idle talk.
I know aging people go through midlife crisis sometimes, but dad is too young to be so papansin.
I remember dad would refuse to carry me in his arms because “you’re damulag already.” But now that I and my brothers are big boys for real, he always seems at lost as to whom and when he can give his fatherly advice. Tell you what, it isn’t a male menopause. It’s a male pride.
Fathers are not really snobby; they’re corny people. Like your mom, your dad cried, too, when he learned that you’re gay. But they could not get their panties in a twist, because they’re old enough—they’re afraid we might laugh at them.
Our dads didn’t change. We do.
Help dad quit smoking
The day my parents realized that I’ve really taken to cigarettes, my mother almost cried and my father was surprisingly composed.
My father, 41, has been smoking since he was 16, and I was always the first, among the family, who secretly worried about him, so as to talk him into quitting. Even now that I’m smoking myself, still I’ve never been remissing in my effort to take it out of his system.
No good parent would take it sitting down that their son is engaged with something fundamentally “wayward,” but really, how does a father reprimand a son with the same sin he’s guilty of?
I took my father’s silence, not that he’s past caring. I took it as an implicit sign of fear I think we, caring people, all share—the fear of something, be it deteriorating health—we are rather not as much afraid of when it happens to us, as when it happens to our loved ones.
Make him worry about me
Like any other, dad loves beeping frantic calls when I’m out at 12 a.m.
I don’t drop the call, because I know he’s worried—really worried!—he’ll go out to fetch me at the kanto.
I’ve had enough of dad’s histrionics. But I can only get used to it. We grow up; our dads grow old.
And I learned that all it takes to make up is to put my arm on his shoulders, while I ask him about his day homeward-bound.