This happened during the first few months of our relationship. I got the chance to share a lot of stories with his dad. It was fun, and he had a lot of funny stories to share about his trips, his favorite food and his quips. And then he called me by a different name.
I was weirded out, hoped it was a mistake and got a bit disappointed that he didn't know what my real name was. I wanted to say "Barbie po" ("It's Barbie"), but I was too surprised to even try to contest it.
Jay said that his dad never knew one of his exes enough to actually call her by her first name. It was also the name of one of the hosts of the hit noontime shows, "Wowowee" that was always number one on the viewing charts. His father would watch it everyday. And then it hit me: he didn't refer to me as Jay's ex. He referred to me as the host of his favorite game show on TV.
That and other countless happy moments remind me of Jay's dad. He passed away peacefully last night.
I was never good at dealing with death. I mean, I have had experiences with friends who passed and people I've known who I think died too soon, but never in this capacity. I was dangerously too close to their family to actually see it happening: his sisters, his Nanay, and Jay's own anguish. I would miss the times that his dad would (eventually) call me by my name in a way that no one else ever did: "Bar-beh!" His dad was funny, no-nonsense and a hard worker. Their garden was always well-manicured, their chickens always well-fed, and our five dogs always well taken cared of. Until he had a stroke three weeks ago that resulted to his passing. He was a fighter, up until his very last breath.
The death of Jay's father brought a lot of questions to me, but it certainly brought more answers. Never had I seen so many people pray for his healing, his recovery and his strength. While a social networking site like Facebook may not have been the best channel for prayers and support, it certainly helped send the message across. Prayer is powerful. Prayer brings people together. And in the midst of it all, God was right there with us, showing His love in a time of distress.
Needless to say, their family will never be the same again. There will always be that time of the year when moments will be lonely, when we would wish that his dad was there with us, singing his Perry Como songs at the top of his lungs. He won't be there to cook his famous adobo or remind Jay that he needs to wake up early. Although I've never experienced it myself, I've heard it several times. God has a reason for everything. And the reason may not make sense now. It may not even make sense tomorrow. But all I know is that when people come and go into our lives, God decides to leave a part of them behind. It's funny that his dad initially remembered me by the name of a TV game show host. But I will remember him. I will remember the time that the hand of God slowly guided each one of us to trust fully in Him, to lean on Him instead of our own concept of time. I will remember him with fondness, but I think God wants me to remember how He worked in Tatay's life. The life of a faithful husband to one, a loving father of six and a person that God used as a channel for His blessing, His learning and His love.
Such is the game of life. It's not always about winning over a sickness, an accident or a crime. It's also about letting go. And when God is your running partner in this Race, you will realize that He is relentless in His love, and He remembers each one of us by name.
Tatay may not have won over his sickness, but he was clearly a winner.
And when God is on your side, He is all you're ever gonna need to win.
In loving memory of Dante Quizan Sr., 1942-2010
Will be missed forever.