Published June 20, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Alyssa Nicole R. Mendoza As told to JANE KINGSU CHENG

Whenever my friends saw me and my dad Leogardo Mendoza together, they would always say things such as “How are you so playful with your dad?” or “Your dad is pretty strict but when it comes to you, he’s like a whole ’nother person,” or “I could never act the way you do around my dad.” I didn’t understand why people said these but as I became more aware of the outside world, I learned that not all dads are as playful, kind, and gentle as mine.


My dad was also the stay-athome type of guy. He wasn’t fond of going to the mall but he always made an exception for me and my mom Joji, just so that he could make us happy and spend time with us. As a husband, he did everything for my mom. He let her make her own decision and supported her regardless of whether he agreed with her or not. My dad was also the guy everyone wanted to be friends with because he was funny, smart, laidback, humble, and he had the biggest heart. He never held grudges and always forgave those who wronged him. My dad had a beautiful soul.

Gone too soon

If you noticed, I talked about my dad in the past tense. He had a triple bypass surgery a few years ago and, for a while, things were okay but then he suffered from pneumonia twice. We later found he was also suffering from chronic kidney disease. He fought long and hard but his illness got the best of him.

Being in and out of the hospital and eventually losing my dad were the two hardest things my mom and I have ever been through. My dad was the rock of our family. My mom and I didn’t have to be strong because he was strong for us. We were independent but we didn’t have to be because my dad always took care of us.

Everything changed on Aug. 21, 2019. It was a normal day, but for some reason, my mom woke me up early. Surprisingly, I got up right away. My mom asked me to feed my dad breakfast and I gladly did. A few minutes after his last meal, his last bath, and his last conversation w i t h m e , my dad started to become weak and unresponsive so we rushed him to the hospital but he didn’t make it. He took his last breath on my lap in the car.

The big surprise

We thought that was the last time we’d ever get to be with him, but we were in for a surprise. Oddly enough, I decided to check my mailbox at 3 a.m. and came across a message with his name. I got scared and decided to open the email two days after I saw the notification. My heart dropped and I just started crying because the email showed me once again how much my dad loved my mom.

t was a list of instructions to help him plan their 25th wedding anniversary last June 10, and it included a list of things for me to do such as making sure that the prepaid flowers he ordered every year for my mom’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, and their anniversary were ready. Other notes included messages I had to print for the bouquet, restaurant reservations or food delivery at home, depending on his condition—his letter was hopeful that he would still be with us at this time. He also asked me to make sure mom had enough money to go to the salon, and that there were enough pretty decorations at home, “kasi mahilig mag picture mommy mo para maganda mga pictures (because your mom loves taking pictures so make sure she gets good photos).”

Celebrating love

I had no idea he planned any of this. I was shocked myself but he knew exactly what my mom wanted and what my mom needed to hear. So with no hesitation, I asked our helper to assist me in executing his plans. We started at 11 p.m. and finished at 5:30 am the next day, just in time for the arrival of the flowers and my mom’s 6 a.m. alarm.

She was shocked, sad, and happy—all at the same time. She couldn’t believe that my dad was able to pull something like that off even though he was no longer with us. I also cried because even if it was tiring, the love and joy I saw in her eyes were worth it. She asked me a lot of questions, so I showed her the email from Dad. The flowers and balloons were what surprised her the most, along with the photos.

Once everything settled down, we sat down and enjoyed the Japanese food I prepared. We also watched her favorite movie Pretty Woman, and my dad’s favorite Armageddon. We also attended an online mass, prayed the novena, and visited my dad.

Dad’s passing has left a void in our hearts. I must admit it’s still hard. It’s been 10 months and I still don’t know how to live without him. He’s my hero, my best friend, and my rock. I miss jumping on him as soon as he got home from work, watching movies, and staying up late watching history shows with him.

His letter couldn’t have come at a better time for me and my mom. I can still feel his physical presence, pushing me to succeed. He’s my inspiration, especially when it comes to my career. He has taught me a lot about running a business, even helping me come up with a business plan which prompted me to start my own.

Thank you, Dad, for everything. And I promise that I will make you proud. We love you.