SUNDAYS WITH PAPA: Remember to Laugh

FOREST LAKE CEMETERY, General Santos City (MindaNews / 20 October) — I spent most of my time yesterday afternoon going through my digital photograph files. I was searching for a particular picture that I want to give as a gift to somebody on her birthday. While I have yet to locate that very special image, searching through thousands of photos brought back a lot of memories. It may sound funny, but yes, I laughed, I cried and everything in between.

I miss your presence. I miss the sound of your footsteps. I miss the times when I would touch your left arm as my way of saying I am leaving for work. I miss your voice. I miss how you would shout my name when something was not right with your computer, printer or internet connection. I miss the discussions. I miss your words of wisdom. I miss the sound of your sneeze. I miss the sound of your laughter. I miss your sense of humor. Yes, your sense of humor!

What most people saw was the man who usually looked deep in thought and did not smile very often. The writer that you were, I am almost certain that you were composing already your next article during those times when you seemed sunk in your thought. What they do not know is that you were a man with a great sense of humor.

One of the things that Mama kept saying when she got home from the hospital on the night of your death was “Wala na si Papa, wala na mag joke joke sa atin.” I may not have articulated it when you were still alive, but one of the things I love about you was your ability to see the funny side of things. You never lost it even when faced with difficult situations – be it stresses in the family, pressures at work or declining health.

I have this feeling that you never came to accept that you needed to use a cane already, but it I can still remember how you made fun of the situation the first time you tried your cane. While we were nervous that you would fall, you managed to “dance” with your cane and laughed hard. That was a hilarious moment.

When Mama nagged you because you wore your t-shirt the wrong way, you simply laughed off. When I could already feel the exhaustion from cleaning the house, you got the hanging shell decor, wore it on your head and that made me laugh. While everybody knew that you could not play a tune on the piano, you pretended to be a great pianist.

Patricio P. Diaz married a pianist and piano teacher, their children could play the piano but he could not. He would, however, entertain his family by pretending to be a great pianist. Photo by Maria Margarita Diaz

There were times when you would literally be laughing so hard and we had to wait for a few minutes before you could tell your joke. The times you made us laugh will be among my cherished memories of you.

I could not be more grateful for you, Pa for teaching me to laugh and for making me realize the importance of having a sense of humor. Remembering to laugh is indeed helping me face the obstacles in my life, especially now that you are gone. It saves my sanity in times when life is full of pressure.

I may not be good at it yet, but I think I am improving in that aspect. In fact, when I catch myself getting too serious in the office, I just think of you, and I try to crack a joke. Unfortunately, the first time I joked at my new workplace, instead of laughing, my workmates hummed the 3rd movement from Chopin’s 2nd Piano Sonata, Op. 35 or more popularly known as the Funeral March.

(Maria Margarita Diaz is the middle child among nine children of journalist Patricio P. Diaz. The 93-year old Diaz passed away on August 29, 2019 after declaring in his hospital bed “I am dying” followed by “I feel better.”)