Sneak Shot

One afternoon, a deer quietly wandered in our yard near the front door. They are usually timid creatures and are easily spooked by just about any motion or noise.

Hiding behind the curtain, I sneaked to get a photo of the deer. However, I think it sensed that she’s being watched, so she quickly moved away, but not after I was able to take some shots.

The deer disappeared probably muttering “Those pesky nosy neighbors!”

What’s funny is I did not know that I was also being sneak up on. And she was able to take some shots too.

Am I also timid and easily spooked? I could have turn around and gave my deer-in-the-headlights look.

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(*photos of me sneaking a photo were taken by my wife)

Bracing for Snow

There’s no question that snow is beautiful. It blankets everything in white. But shoveling and clearing your driveway, and worse yet, driving on it is something else. It is at the least treacherous, especially during a major snowstorm with more than a few inches of snowfall.

Iowa State Capitol Building (photo courtesy of KCCI)

However if you live in a place that has significant snow accumulation in winter, like here in Iowa, you need to deal with it. Driving in snow is a skill that you need to develop through experience.

Last week, we had consecutive days of heavy snowfall. There was a lot of cancellation in our clinic appointments as patients decided not to come as they deemed the roads were not safe.

I went home early and sure enough as I was driving down the interstate, there were several cars that were abandoned as they had fallen in the ditch. There were several reports of collisions too. Oh the joy of slipping and sliding in winter driving.

When I arrived home, the snow was still falling. With about 4 or 5 inches on the ground already and no sign of letting up, I called my son down. I told him that we were going to drive in snow.

My son got his driver’s permit a few months ago. He cannot drive alone, but only when there’s an adult in the car. Yet he needs to gain experience to drive in snow. He needs to develop the skill. I thought, this was the perfect opportunity for him to do so.

I am far from being the most expert driver or the most skilled in driving in snow. But I have several years of experience in driving in this weather, and my best qualification to teach him is that I am his father. I know what is best for my kids. Plus our car is an all-wheel drive with high ground clearance, built to play in rough terrain.

First we drove around our neighborhood. I let him slam the brake when we were going downhill and let him feel the car sliding. Of course nobody was on the road except us, so we were never in danger. When my son gained some confidence, we went out in the highway to let him experience real driving in snow with cars tailing and passing us.

After almost an hour of driving, we went home.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from my daughter who was in college a couple of hours away. She said that she was supposed to go somewhere but snow was starting to fall. I sensed some alarm in her voice and she was not feeling confident in driving in snow. She was asking if she should go or not.

My daughter has been driving for a couple of years, but have not driven in snow by herself. If I could only go to where she was, I would, but she was far away. So I did what I think was best. I advised her to drive slowly and carefully. I told her that sooner or later she would have to drive in snow but she should be fine. Besides the snow was a couple of inches only.

Even though I sounded convincing when I talked to her, in my heart I had some fear. But I know I had to let her fly on her own. I know she needs to build her confidence. I know she needs the experience to be independent.

I was relieved when she texted later that she made it to her destination safely.

As parents, we don’t stop parenting even if our children are grown-up. Their challenges may be different now. It’s not about the big spider on the wall anymore, or about a difficult math equation, or a bully in the playground. But their challenges may be bigger. Would I pass this college course, or would I find a job, or would my salary be enough, or would I find a niche in this world?

I hope I have equipped and prepared my children in facing the snowstorms in life. And I don’t mean just driving in snow.

Someone is Praying

I was pulling out of our driveway last weekend and I had this certain feeling of heaviness in my heart. I was going to work and would be in the hospital, mainly manning the ICU, for 36 long hours straight.

First of all, it was the weekend before Christmas, so I was a little sad that I would miss out on many happenings. My kids were supposed to play music in the church’s Christmas program. But more so, I had this feeling of dread to whatever challenges I would face. The ICU is crazily busy this time of year, you know. What kind of chaos was waiting for me, God only knows.

Of course that dreadful feeling I had was nothing compared to some other people leaving for work. Like the OFW or overseas workers who are leaving their home and family for a year or longer to go to a foreign country. They would be fighting extreme loniness and homesickness. Though I had a taste of that feeling when I left my home in the Philippines more than two decades ago with an unforseen future at that time.

For some, it is even worse. I would not even try to imagine the feelings of soldiers leaving their home to be deployed somewhere in the world where there is war and unrest, and their return is not guaranteed at all. Talk about feeling of dread and angst, that definitely is.

Anyway, as I drove away from our home, the first song that played on my radio (my car radio is sync on my phone’s playlist) was “Someone is Praying for You.” All of a sudden I felt some kind of reassurance, and the foreboding feeling I had melted away.

The chorus of that song goes like this:

Someone is praying for you, someone is praying for you.
So when it seems you’re all alone, and your heart will break in two.
Remember someone is praying for you.

Do you have someone praying for you?

Maybe you owe someone money, and they are praying that you remember to pay your debt. Or maybe you have offended someone and they are praying that you choke on your food so you would think of them. But I am not talking of those kind of people wishing for you.

What I mean are people who really care for your well-being and have you in their thoughts and prayers no matter what.

I know most parents, if not all, especially mothers, are always praying for the good of their children. It does not matter how old you are or how far you wandered away from home, your parents are still praying for you.

My parents are both gone now. My father died 3 decades ago and my mother died 4 years ago. Yet, I know that there is still someone praying for me all the time.

It is a comforting feeling that someone always have me on their mind. Whether I am home or not at home. Whether I am strolling in a park or walking through the forest of difficulties. Whether I am sure of my path or I can barely find my way.

And that someone has also been by my side for the past 24 years. Happy Anniversary my dear, and thank you for walking this life with me.

(*photo taken last year)

Pasko, Paksiw, Pakso

Parang mga bata, sabik na sabik kaming sumapit ang Pasko sa taong ito. Kulang na lang ay hilahin namin ang mga araw para maging Pasko na. Hindi dahil sa mahaba ang listahan namin para kay Santa Claus. Nanabik lang kami dahil magiging iba ang pagdaraos namin nito.

Binalak namin kasi na mag-Pasko sa isang lugar na hindi pa namin nararating. Matagal-tagal din naming inasam-asam na mabisita ang lungsod na iyon. Maraming oras din ang aming ginugol sa pagsasaliksik, pagpaplano at paghahanda sa aming gagawing paglalakbay. At maraming pawis at ipon ang ipinuhunan sa biyaheng ito.

Pero alam n’yo ba na mas maraming pawis at mas malaking ipon ang kailangan kung kami ay magbabalik bayan, lalo na kung sa panahon ng Pasko?

Aming pinapanaginipan na sa umaga ng Pasko, kami ay mag-aalmusal ng kakaibang tinapay, at hihigop ng mainit na tsokolate, habang nakatanaw sa mataas na toreng bakal na napapalamutian ng mga ilaw.

Sabi nila maganda raw ang Pasko sa lugar na iyon. Sabi nila wala raw kahalintulad ang Pasko sa siyudad na iyon. Kung ang Pasko ay kung saan ang boong paligid ay ginagayakan ng mga kumukurap-kurap at makukulay na ilaw, hindi ba magandang magdiwang ng Pasko sa Lungsod ng mga Ilaw?

Ngunit sa hindi inaasahang mga pangyayari, sumabog ang kaguluhan sa lugar na iyon. Kumalat ang mga demonstrasyon. Naglipana ang mga nagproprotesta na nakasuot ng dilaw. Akala ko sa bansang tinubuan ko lamang ang mga “dilaw.” Naging marahas at madugo pa ang mga naging salpukan ng mga demonstrador at mga pulis. Sa tutuusin, kung ating babalik-aralin ang kasaysayan ng mundo, sila ang nagpatanyag sa salitang “rebolusyon.”

Kaya hindi man namin gusto, ay wala kaming magawa kung hindi mapilitang kanselahin sa huling minuto ang aming paglalakabay. Ayaw naman naming malagay sa binggit ng alanganin, o maipit sa mga nagbabanggaang pwersa.

Oo nga’t may mga nabayaran na kaming hindi na namin mabawing buo. Mayroong halaga rin ang nawala na parang bula. Sisingilin na lang namin ito sa karanasan at aral ng buhay. Nakakapanghinayang din ang mga oras at pagod na ginugol namin sa paghahanda sa biyaheng ito. Hindi maiiwasan na kami ay makaramadam ng kalungkutan dahil napurnada ang aming pangarap. Mga ilang buwan ding kaming naghintay at nasabik, mauuwi lang pala sa wala. Ang aming Pasko, naging Pakso!

Pero matapos kaming mahimasmasan sa aming kabiguan, ay natanggap din naman namin ang naging kapalaran. Hindi kami galit sa mga tao sa lugar na iyon. Kung sa amin ay maliit na pagkabigo ang hindi matuloy ang aming pangarap na bakasyon, para sa kanila, ang kanilang kabuhayan at karapatang mabuhay ang ipinagtatanggol nila. Amin silang sinusuportan sa kanilang laban.

Kaya amin nalang ipagdiriwang ang Pasko dito sa Iowa. Magiging maliit na pagdiriwang na lamang ito. Mag-papaksiw na lang siguro kami sa Pasko.

Ngunit wala kaming dahilan para magmukmok at magreklamo. Dahil sa buong mundo ngayon, saan ka man dumako, sa kabila ng mga kasiyahan at selebrasyon ng panahong ito, ay mayroong mga tao at kanilang pamilya na marahil hindi nakakaramdam ng Pasko. Marahil sila ay dumaranas ng kahirapan ng buhay. Marahil sila ay naghihikahos. O kaya nama’y sila ay nakaratay sa banig ng karamdaman. Marahil sila ay nangungulila. O kaya’y nasakuna ng digmaan. Ano kaya ang Pasko para sa kanila?

Pero alam naman nating lahat na ang Pasko ay hindi tungkol sa pagliliwaliw, o paglilibang, o handaan, at inuman. Ito ay tungkol sa pagdating ng ating Tagapagligtas. At ito ay sapat na upang tayo’y magpasalamat.

Noong panahon ni Hesukristo, matagal na hinihintay ang ipinangakong Manunubos. Ang lahat ay nasasabik sa pagdating ng Mesiyas na sa kanila’y magpapalaya’t magliligtas. Ngunit nang dumating ang takdang panahon, walang man lang maglaan ng silid para sa Kanya. Hanggang sa sabsaban na lang ang naging lugar Niya. Dahil iba rin ang kanilang ekspektasyon at pakahulugan sa darating na Tagapagligtas, marami sa kanila ang nabigo. 

Kung sa panahon natin kaya Siya dumating, ilan kaya sa atin ang handang sumalubong?

Sa Paskong ito, ano mang ang ating pagkakaabalahan, sana ay may lugar sa ating puso ang ating Manunubos.

At kung ano man ang ating hinihintay sa Pasko – bonus, regalo galing sa  Ninong at Ninang, o nawawalang sinta (Pasko na sinta ko hanap hanap kita……), o kahit pahinga lang mula sa kapaguran sa trabaho – sana ay hindi tayo mabigo. 

Pero kung ang hinihintay natin ay kaligtasan at tunay na kasiyahan galing kay Hesukristo, sigurado akong hindi tayo mabibigo. Walang gulo o kahit pa giyera ang kayang humadlang nito.

Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat.

Math, We Have A Problem

Love it or hate it, you cannot live without math. It is not only the accountants and the mathematicians that live by it. If you go to the market, you apply math. If you’re a bus conductor or a jeepney driver, you really should know your math. Even if you’re an ordinary salaried employee, you need to know math. Or maybe that’s the reason your salary runs out before the days of the months do, is that you don’t know your math. We simply cannot disregard math.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours shared a math problem in a group chat. This posed a challenge to us, as we all believe that we are math whizzes. Maybe it was more than math prowess that was required, but also some analytical ability and a sprinkle of common sense.

Here is the problem she posted:

What is your answer?

A. 30

B. 20

C. 15

D. 43

E. None of the above, this is a trick question.

F. I don’t know and I don’t care, I hate math.

Looking at the problem and applying the math rules that I remember in solving equations, I easily arrived at an answer. Me and my wife have the same answer,  making us confident that we solved it right.

When we show the math problem to our son, he looked at it intently and said that our answer was wrong. We checked our solution again, and we were positive we were right.

My son told us his answer that I thought was definitely wrong, but he was certain of his answer. He just smiled with a knowing grin, like a cat who swallowed a canary, but he would not divulge to us on how he arrived at his “ridiculous” answer. 

When our friend who posted the math problem gave out the solution, it turned out that our son’s answer was right. We failed math!

How could it be? We were the ones who taught this boy math (we homeschooled our children), and yet the student turned out to be better than the teachers.

Well, it just prove that we are not math geniuses that we believe we are and we are no Einstein.

Hint: It needs good eyesight too to solve this problem. And me and my wife were not wearing our glasses when we try to solve this problem. At least that was our excuse, and we’re sticking to it.

(*For the solution and answer please see the comment section. The image is not mine and I apologize to the owner if there’s a copyright infringement.)


Black Friday

Thanksgiving week is the busiest time for travel in the United States. Students who are in distant colleges and universities, family members who have moved away from their parents, and most people who have wandered far, all journeyed back to the place they call home to be with their family.

For a day the family gathered around the table with a spread of bountiful food and gave thanks. For a day the family was one again. Unless you have no family, or you don’t like your family, or you hate food, it is hard not to like this holiday.

Of course for some people this time is for vacation and some time off work. For some it is about parties. For some it is about parades. For some it is all about watching football. And yet for some they make this holiday time all about shopping – the Black Friday event. But primarily, this time is for families and about giving thanks.

I am in charge of the hospital’s ICU this week. I know there’s no good time to be sick and be admitted in the ICU, but being sick during the holidays is terrible. It is particularly difficult for the families involved.

We have one patient who was admitted in our ICU about 10 days ago. He is in his mid 50’s and he got really ill. He has multi-organ failure. Despite all the efforts, he did not get better. He is on mechanical ventilator, on continuous dialysis, and on several medications to keep his heart pumping and blood pressure up, yet he is sliding away. More concerning still is that he is not waking up.

His family would like us to continue our intensive management until many of his family, especially his children, who are in other states could come and see him and then they would say their goodbyes. For one more Thanksgiving, they gathered, though not in front of a bountiful dinner table, but in an ICU room, as one family again. Then today, Black Friday, they decided to transition to full comfort cares and let their father passed on after a final farewell. It’s kind of hard to give thanks in such circumstances.

Sadly to say, that story is not unique to that family.

In another ICU room, a mother who is only 40 years old, has metastatic breast cancer to the brain. She failed all surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and is now having frequent seizures. Family would like to keep her in the hospital until Thanksgiving day. Last night they took her home with Hospice to die.

In yet another ICU room, a man who is in his 70’s suffered a large intracranial hemorrhage a week ago. Even after surgery to the brain to evacuate the blood, the patient remains comatose and is in continued vegetative state. The family also would like to have family members from far away places to come on Thanksgiving to see him. Today, they took him off life support.

The saddest of all is in another ICU room. The patient is in his 60’s who had cardiac arrest and prolonged CPR four days ago. We cooled his body down (hypothermia protocol) to try to preserve any brain function. However after we rewarmed his body temperature and discontinue all sedation, he’s not waking up. There is no family members around and we cannot find any one except for a friend that said they don’t know any family of his, and perhaps he is estranged from his family. Both the cardiologist and I felt that continuing life support is medically futile given his significant anoxic brain injury. We let him passed on peacefully, with nobody around him except our ICU staff.

To many, today, Black Friday means bargain sales and wild shopping spree. But in this frantic place, inside these ICU walls, it has a different meaning. It is the solemn color of mourning.

For those of you celebrating this holiday time, may you cherish each moment you have with your family, and commemorate this season in it’s true essence.

(*photo taken with an iPhone)

Tag, You’re It

With fresh snow on the ground and with temperature of 14º F (-10º C) that we trekked down to the nearby tree farm. It’s that time of year again to choose a Christmas tree.

From our previous experiences, it usually takes us several minutes (though it feel like hours) to go up and down the line after line of trees, before we could pick the “perfect” tree.

Not this time.

On the first line of trees that we approached, we already made our choice. We did it in less than a minute! It is a record!

Here’s a close up photo of our Christmas tree with my wife tagging it with our name.

We’ll be coming back in two weeks to have this tree cut and bundled and for us to bring it home.

Since we did it so quickly, there was plenty of time for me to eat popcorn and sip hot chocolate inside the tree farm’s store. 

Actually I was looking for Santa, who usually is sitting inside this store, to give him my Christmas list. But he was not there. Perhaps he’s still busy preparing the turkey for the Thanksgiving.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)


A Concert Grand

Thank you Steinway Concert Grand* for singing wonderfully tonight. Thank you for making Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue live and breathe for us. For having Robert Schumann’s Papillion flutter and dance. And for letting Maurice Ravel’s Sonatine serenade us tonight.

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I know you have played in so many recitals and concerts before. I know you have performed with so many great professors and excellent students. I am even sure you made music with some world-renowned pianists in the past.

But tonight is different. It is special. Very special. At least for me.

Thank you Steinway Concert Grand for letting my little daughter play with you tonight. For letting her delicate little fingers run and tinker with your ivories and ebonies. Those beautiful little fingers, that only yesterday, were playing with dirt and plucking dandelions in our yard.

I know. She’s not as little anymore, than what I want to believe.

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(*A Concert Grand piano is the standard for Classical performance and recording. It measures about 9 feet long.)

(**Photos taken during a university’s junior solo recital.)

Pingas at Lamat

Mga ilang buwan na ang nakalipas nang hindi sinasadyang mabagok ang cello ng aming anak. Ang anak naming ito ay nasa kolehiyo na bilang isang music performance major. Dahil medyo malakas ang pagkakatama ng cello, ito ay nagkalamat. Dinala namin ito sa dealer at matapos suriin ng eksperto, ay aming nalaman na hindi pala lamat lang kundi malalim pala ang biyak nito.

Hindi ako nakaimik nang sabihin na ang estimadong babayaran ay halos kalahati ng halaga ng cello. Marami raw dapat ayusin upang maibalik ang magandang tunog nito. Maari rin daw mag-depreciate ang halaga ng cello dahil nabasag na ito. Pero dahil napamahal na sa aming anak ang kanyang cello, kaya pinagpasyahan pa rin naming ipakumpuni ito.

Noong ako’y bata pa, aking naaalala na sa aming bahay ay may mga ceramic na figurines na may mga basag. Ngunit kahit pa pingas at basag ang mga ito, sila ay naka-display pa rin sa aming tahanan. Bakit? Ito ang kuwento ng mga figurines:

Kami ay nagbakasyon sa Ilocos Norte kung saan naroroon ang aming mga kamag-anak sa parte ng aking nanay. Dahil sa nataon na birthday ng bunso kong kapatid nang kami ay naroon, kaya doon na rin idinaos ang selebrasyon ng kanyang birthday. Kasama sa mga regalo na natanggap niya ay mga ceramic na figurines. Sa aking pagkakatanda, may figurine na mag-anak na aso, may isang cute na pusa, at mayroon ding bata.

Nang kami ay lumuwas na pa-Maynila ay bitbit namin lahat ng mga regalo, kasama ng ang mga figurines. Binalot namin sila ng dyaryo at lumang komiks. May tinapa at tupig (delicacy ng Ilocos) din kaming inuwi na nakabalot din sa dyaryo.

Fariñas Transit ang aming laging sinasakyan noon papunta at pauwi mula Ilocos. Mula sa istasyon ng bus ng Fariñas sa Sampaloc, ay sumakay kami sa isang taxi pauwi sa aming bahay sa may Balik-balik. Kahit na sobrang siksikan ay nagkasya naman kami at ang aming mga bagahe.

Nang kami ay paliko sa Visayas Avenue, mga ilang kanto na lang sa aming bahay, isang rumaragasang owner jeep ng pulis ang bumangga sa aming taxing sinasakyan. Tumilapon kami sa lakas ng pagkakabangga. Buti na lang at hindi tumaob ang aming taxi, at walang malubhang nasaktan sa amin.

Bumaba ang pulis sa kanyang jeep at kami ay kanyang sinilip. Ang paliwag ng pulis ay may hinahabol daw itong kotse ng mga hinihinalang carnapper, ngunit nawalan daw siya ng preno, kaya’t bumundol ito sa aming taxi.

Kahit kami ay nakalog at nasindak sa pangyayari hindi naman kami kailangan dalhin sa ospital. Bagkus pa nga, nag-lakad na lang kaming pauwi sa aming bahay, dahil ilang kanto na lang naman ang layo nito sa lugar ng aksidente.

Nang kami ay makarating sa aming tahanan, aming sinuri ang aming mga katawan at mga maliliit na pasa at bugbog lang naman ang aming pinsala. Nang aming buksan ang aming mga bagahe, aming natuklasan na ang mga figurines ay may pinsala din – may pingas at basag ang ilan sa mga ito.

Ngunit dahil ang mga pingas at basag na figurines ay nagpapaalala na kami ay buhay at ligtas sa kabila ng aming aksidente, kaya’t idinikit lang namin ng glue at idinisplay pa rin namin ang mga ito. Sila’y tanda ng aming pinagdaanan.

Kayo ba? May mga bagay ba sa inyong tahanan na kahit pingas at sira ay napamahal na sa inyo?

Isang pang display sa aming tahanan sa Maynila noon ay isang family tree na yari sa marmol. Ito ay regalo at galing pa sa Romblon. Sa bawat sanga ng puno ay may nakahapon na ibon.

Noong maliit pa ang aking pamangkin, sa sobrang kalikutan nito, ang marmol na family tree ay kanyang natabig at ito ay nahulog. Napigtas ang isang sanga nito. Matalinhagang babala kaya iyon? Naidikit naman namin itong muli sa pamamagitan ng epoxy. Sana nga lahat ng problema sa buhay ay nalulunasan lang din ng epoxy.

Bagaman may basag na ang marmol na family tree, mayabang pa rin itong naka-display sa aming tahanan, dahil para sa amin ay lalo lang nagkaroon ng mas malalim na kahulugan at halaga ito sa aming pamilya.

Sa ating buhay, tayo ay nakakaranas ng mga pagsubok at paghihirap na maaring sumugat, bumasag, o pumunit ng ating pagkatao at dangal. Sa aming karanasan ay marami kaming pinagdaanang ganito noon. Hindi aksidente sa taxi o sasakyan ang aking tinutukoy. Ang aking ibig sabihin ay ang malalakas, madidilim at masalimuot na bagyo ng buhay.

Hindi ko na isasaad ang mga partikular na mga pangyayari, ngunit sabihin na lang natin na ito’y nag-iwan ng lamat sa aming pangalan.

broken_statue_of_ballerina_3_by_annbehemotik-d528nds

Ngunit hindi natin dapat isipin na tayo ay marupok. Sa halip ay ating isipin na ang mga lamat, peklat at pingas ay isang tanda na tayo ay matatag. Ito’y tanda na ating nalagpasan ang mga pagsubok at lalo lang tayong tumitibay at lumalakas. Kaya nating bumangon sa anumang hagupit na maaring ihatid ng buhay. Sa bawat sugat, ang ating halaga ay hindi bumababa, kundi lalo pa itong tumataas.

Maaring ikaw ay may mga pinagdaanan o pinagdadaanan ngayon. Maaring ikaw rin ay may mga sugat at lamat. Kaibigan, taas noo nating ipakita sa mundo ang ating katatagan.

(*photo of broken figurine from here)

For Fathers Who Aren’t In Heaven

Sad stories are life’s reality. Several weeks ago I heard one sad story. It was told by a young man, but he did not even relayed it to me. I just overheard it.

We were in a youth camporee, and I went there as a supervising adult (see previous post). There were more than 300 boys and girls from several youth clubs that came to that camping.

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evening worship at the camp

One morning in the boy’s public bathroom, I was in one of the toilet stalls minding my own business. There was no phone signal in the camp, so I cannot surf the web on my smart phone to keep me entertained. I was just watching a small spider spinning his web at one corner of the stall.

(Sorry, this is my second post in a row that discuss something about restrooms. It is not my intention to turn this blog into a toilet talk, but just bear with me, for there’s a good point I want to make here, I promise.)

Then I heard people came to the restroom. I believe there were at least two boys who came in. While brushing their teeth and perhaps washing their faces at the lavatories, they started a conversation.

After some small talk and introducing themselves to each other, like their name and what youth club or place they came from, one boy opened up with a very personal information. I was not being nosy nor eavesdropping, but as the wash basins were just a few feet from the toilet stall I was in, I heard all their conversation.

“I never knew who my father is, for I never met him,” one boy confessed.

He added that he met his real mother when he was eleven years old, but her mother never told him who his real dad is. Then he said that his mother told him that she gave him away for adoption for he was a “blue baby” when he was born. “I was blue as a Smurf,” he quipped. Her mother thought that she cannot take care of him due to his condition, so she gave him away.

As a medical doctor, I know that “blue babies” have an anomaly in their heart or in their circulation causing poorly oxygenated blood to course into their arteries giving the bluish discoloration of their skin. Unless a life saving procedure or surgery is done immediately, they will not survive. Most likely this boy underwent such surgery.

I know this boy is a survivor. Yet he might had the corrective surgery to close a hole in his heart, but the void and longing in his heart for love, especially from a father he never knew, was never filled.

Like a priest inside a confession box, except that I was in a toilet stall, I heard all this heart-breaking confession of a young man without him seeing me. Most likely he didn’t even know I was there listening to his story. He is not aware that the walls, even the very private toilet walls, have ears.

I would like to break out from the stall I was in and give this young man a big hug, but given the situation and place, that may be deemed inappropriate. Perhaps even scandalous.

The thing is I know his first name, his age, where he is from, and what club he is a member of, but I never saw his face. By the time I was done with my business, and came out of the stall, the two boys were gone.

My heart was broken just listening to that sad story. I can just imagine what heartache that boy was feeling. I just hope he finds the love he was looking for even if he has no father. Though one thing for sure, “our Father who art in heaven,” loves him and I pray that he realized that.

This made me thinking, that fathers who aren’t in heaven, me included, have such a great responsibility. We may never change the world singlehandedly, but we are given this distinctive duty and privilege to make a positive impact in the precious lives of our children. And perhaps if all fathers will do that, then the world will change.

For you fathers who may be reading this, or for you young men or even boys who will be fathers some day, I hope we all rise up to this challenge.

Have a happy and meaningful Father’s Day.