He's the one and only Papa I've ever known in my entire life. Siya lang at wala nang iba. And I miss having him around. After all these years, I still miss his presence badly.
When I was a kid, Papa was always around to walk me to school, bring my lunch to school and then pick me up from school. He was my "yaya" of some sort. He even prepares me my merienda when I arrive from school.
Once he forgot to pick me up from school---I was so distressed waiting for him at the gates of my school. I waited for almost an hour, and when I lost hope, I asked somebody to help cross the street so that I can walk home by myself. When I got home, he was not there. I went to our neighborhood's Mahjong-an place---and he was there. He was playing Mahjong and forgot about me. I cried and he was so sorry for what he did. Of course I forgave him.
He was the man who taught me how to smoke. When I was eight years old, he'd always ask me to buy cigarettes from the nearby sari-sari store. And sometimes, he'd want his cigarettes to be lit already, so he taught me how. My mom will probably go ballistic when she reads this.
He also taught me how to take care my pets at home---we took care of doves (I got from my Tita Vhey's wedding) and chicks na nagiging chickens na. We feed them, we play with them, we watch them "hang out" inside the cage together. The doves, we eventually let them go--nakakawa if they're kept in a cage eh. The chicks that turned into chickens became tinolas for dinner hehehe.
I always wonder what our life would be like if Papa was still here. Maybe our family get-togethers will be noisier, funnier. One thing is for sure, the Zurbano* clan will be a little more complete with Papa's presence.
And since today is your special day, let me just tell you:
Happy birthday Papa. Thank you for being a cool Lolo. I will always be grateful that I became the first granddaughter in the family because you loved me first. I love you.
*Zurbano clan - refers to my mother's family.