For My Tatay

I read somewhere a great quote. The quote said, “I don’t want my children to follow in my footsteps. I want them to take the path next to me and go farther than I ever dreamt possible.” – TO GO FARTHER THAN I EVER DREAMT POSSIBLE. The perfect summation of a parents’ love and dedication, I thought.

Since the day we arrived in this world, we had dreams, hopes, desires, and aspirations. We dreamt of being loved. We hoped to explore the world. We desired to experience life. And we aspired to make something of ourselves. So did our parents.

The day they became parents, Nanay and Tatay, had dreams, hopes, desires and aspirations for each of their children – committing, to what now became, their biggest and deepest dreams while sacrificing their own.

There comes a point, or will be a point, in everyone’s life when we realize that our road and journey on this Earth will one day come to an end. That the path that lies beneath our feet will become the path that guides someone – perhaps our children, our grandchildren, a loved one – to go farther than we ever dreamt possible, to one day reach their own dreams without having to sacrifice too much of themselves.

As we reflect on their lives and their love and honor Tatay’s memory, I am grateful for the sacrifices Nanay and Tatay made. I am grateful for the path they laid beneath their feet. I am grateful for the path they left me. I am grateful for the path I now create. This path is created by stones of humility, kindness, laughter, inspiration, wisdom, compassion, and love. Characteristics they left behind for all of us.

Without Tatay, I know I would not be here. My mom would not have come to America and my dad would not have met my mom. I would not have been born. At a young age, I understood that fact. Mainly because my mom would never let me forget, always saying “Without us, you wouldn’t be here.” I remember one afternoon, Tatay and Nanay were sorting through papers, photographs and other nick knacks in their room. I was working on a genealogy project for grade school and had to gather information as far back as my great grandparents. I was on a mission to fill in all the blank boxes. As I sat there, grinding them on date of births and places of birth, Tatay came across some old, faded yellow, crinkled paper. That piece of paper and the ones following it were his old military correspondence. I sat there, in their room, just watching him read them and put them away, listening to them talk about WWII and how they came to America. When I left the room, I knew I experienced something amazing.

Weeks ago, I volunteered for an organization advocating for the Asian American immigrant community. [We were meeting with legislative counsels and aids of Congress members, asking for the current immigration debate to include shorter wait lines and faster family reunifications.] I wasn’t planning on sharing our story – of how I came to be by way of the Philippines, by way of my grandparents, by way of a veteran. But the story itself is significant and should be shared. So I told it. I told it to a man, with a thick southern accent. I shared Tatay’s story. I shared Nanay’s story. I shared our story as immigrants, as a large family, and as people. As I spoke, I became even more appreciative of all the sacrifices, love, and memories I have of my Nanay and Tatay. I can only hope that when I left the room, that man with the southern accent had experienced something as amazing as the day I listened to Nanay and Tatay years ago talking about their lives and journey to the US.

It is important for us to never forget that the path we are on – the road we travel on in this mortal world – was made possible by those that paved the way before us. Our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents, those deeply rooted in our family tree. Honor those sacrifices. Honor their footsteps. Honor them each and every day. Dedicate yourself to go farther than they ever dreamt possible. Dedicate yourself to help the next generation go farther than you ever dream possible. I know Tatay and Nanay would want it that way.

Thank you Tatay. Thank you Nanay. Continue to keep each other company until we meet again one day.

‘Til the next time,

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