Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

How would we find each other in heaven?

Posted on October 29, 2006 by jimparedes

The Philippine STAR 10/29/2006

It’s All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in a few days and I thought I’d write about my mom and dad. One of the last conversations I had with my mother before she had a stroke and went into a coma was an interesting and totally memorable one.

It was an early April afternoon. I was visiting her at her home and she was so happy to see me and was in good humor. She was in a light, playful mood, as if she seemed to take life less and less seriously as she got older. She was far from what she was when I was in high school – the tough momma who was so concerned about building my character. She had clearly mellowed and was now quite relaxed and even fun.

After the usual small talk, I remember talking to her about what it would be like if we could suspend the mode of relating that had defined us both as mother and child. After all, I was already in my late 40s and she was in her 70s. I was telling her that I no longer wanted our relationship to be constrained by the biological roles that fate had assigned to us – she as my mother and I as her son. We had, to my mind, outgrown that. I wanted to know her and for her to know me just as another human being. In other words, no longer should I think of being a dutiful son who must please his mother, and I suggested that it would be good for us to just enjoy each other as human beings that afternoon without the history that bonded us.

She quickly understood. We sat for an hour telling stories as we usually do but with a difference. I was looking at her beautiful face that showed the lines of wisdom that two marriages, 10 children and an extremely interesting life had lovingly etched on it. I saw a human being who was beyond being my mother. I saw a human being who was in the afternoon of life, and I remember how her disposition suggested to me an afternoon that was building up to a beautiful sunset. I knew she was looking at me, also, with fresh eyes. For the first time, she even showed open delight at the green jokes I was narrating in place of the admonishing that I would usually get before. It was such a great golden moment that afternoon as we just enjoyed our first conscious “human to human” contact without the straightjacket that familial bonds can sometimes impose.

I then asked her a host of theoretical, speculative questions: Considering that familial bonds are earthly ties, what would she be to me, and vice versa, in heaven where these bonds have ceased? What happens to biological relationships when we are all spirits later on? How would we ever find each other in heaven? At the last question, she smiled and said that we surely would find each other since love will always find love. I smiled and hugged her.

I was so grateful I had that moment with my mother. I felt we were able to experience a breakthrough as “real” people. It was good to have a moment with her in this way before she went into a coma a few weeks later. That afternoon is one of the most beautiful memories I will treasure of her.

Dad and I when we turned 42.

I do not have too many memories of my father. He died in a plane crash when I was six. I have more memories of how people saw him, admired and even loved him. He seemed to be a swell guy. He was not just a husband, father, a golden boy and dutiful son to my grandparents, but was also a teacher, a media person and an intellectual. My elder brothers and sisters were lucky to have known him firsthand. I only knew of him.

I remember attending a PTA meeting in school two years after my dad died and found myself feeling different – actually quite ashamed that, unlike my classmates, I had no father with me. Many times in my teenage years, I actually used his being “absent” from my life as leverage when I wanted something. In my childishness, I would pray to him and make him feel guilty and then ask him for some wish to be granted. Strangely enough, I got a lot of what I asked for.

Growing up, I had a “father hunger” that was hard to fulfill. I would feel this longing at different times in my life but could not identify it. It was only after attending a workshop called Reparenting the Child Within (RCW) with Sister Harriet, a kind and strong nun who mentioned the term, that it fully resonated with me. Many times growing up and even as an adult, I really missed having a real, live biological dad.

And yet, I did feel his presence many times in my life when I would meet old students of his, or old friends who would talk about him to me. In many situations when I was in some sort of moral dilemma, I would actually ask myself what dad would do. I’m glad I knew enough about him to guide me. He seemed like a really great guy and from what I can reconstruct of him, based on what I know so far, we would probably enjoy each other’s company a lot – the way my son Mio and I get along.

During the early days of APO’s career, I would often dream of my dad, and strangely enough, that would signal that I was about to go on a trip somewhere. In my dream, he would be emerging from a plane crash site, dusting off his white suit and walking with me as we talked. He was young, handsome and quite animated. It felt so real and the glow of the experience lingered with me the whole day. The dreaming stopped a few years ago. At first I was wondering why. Could he have moved on to another plane and felt no need to take care of loved ones on this earthly plane? I don’t know and will never know for sure.

I am speculating that he probably felt I did not need any more “fathering” at my age, knowing how much I now enjoy the role with my own kids and students.

0 to “How would we find each other in heaven?”

  1. Obet Dionisio says:

    Dear Jim,

    This is the moment when I say “I am touched” by your writings. I share your feelings because I also lost my father when I was only two years old. And the unexplainable dreams I was having when I was young, about my father looking over behind my shoulder whenever I am confronted with a problem during the day. Suffice to say that I had the same dreamy exoperience you were having until my later age as you are now. As for the celebrations of All Souls Day here in Australia, the Filipino community will have a Mass for the Dead at Pinegrove Memorial Garden, to be celebrated by about seven Filipino priests and three Filipino deacons, where people can submit written prayer petitions which will be blessed and prayed over during the mass, and burned at the end of the mass, followed by the blessings of the graves. This event is under my responsibility. I will send you an email how you could offer prayers to your departed parents and other loved ones. You know where I work and the kind of life I have here.

  2. Claud says:

    Your column, as well as Lucy Torres-Gomez’s, definitely complete my Sunday mornings! (:

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Love will always find love.” What wonderful words to remember your mother by. Father or mother hunger is something that all children who lose a parent under the age of 18 go through. I know, because I lost my dad when I was 16. Truly, our earliest losses define much of how we navigate the emotional terrain of life later on – most especially in adolescence and mid-life. I found a beautiful poem which you might want to take a look at. It gave me a lot of comfort today as I remembered my own son. You can view it here — http://www.mourningtojoy.blogspot.com Here’s to remembering love.

  4. Tess Termulo says:

    You and your dad look so alike! It’s just like mom and me. I have a picture when I was 3 years old that really looks like my mom when she was 3, hair ribbons, dress, smile, and all!

  5. sachiko says:

    Oh,Jim..you inspired me again,what a beautiful post and you gave All Souls Day a different meaning,something to ponder about.

    Love will always find love.I shall be telling this to my kids if and when they ask me the same question.

    I lost both my mom and dad when i was in grade school and im an only child, i had my own why’s for a long time but not anymore. God gave me my husband and 3 beautiful,loving kids and that’s how HE is making up,making the latter part of my life a happy,fulfilled one! God is good. 🙂

    I promised myself i’ll live a happy life for my mother’s sake too,do what she wasn’t able to experience and accomplish,including watching my kids grow,get married someday and be a granma (ouch!) 🙂

  6. cess says:

    I am so touched by this post. My children are still very young, and this post made me think of what I wish our relationship would be like when we all get older.

  7. Royce says:

    How poignant that afternoon was with your mom. It really must have been a wonderful, uplifting experience for the both of you.

    It’s just sad that you were so young when your dad met his tragic moment, and you didn’t experience the wisdom and warmth of his paternal magnanimity.

    One thing I’m sure though was that his spirit was hovering over you, like a guardian angel, when you were growing up.

  8. roamee says:

    sir, i was really touched by the words “love will always find love”! i had a stillborn son and the same question always pops up on my mind (especially in times of remembrance), “how would we ever find each other in heaven?”… now i know the answer.
    and it doesn’t only work in death, it also works in just being apart from your loved ones. i’ll be on a trip to another country this nov. and i am already terribly missing my family but now i know that “love will always find love”!

  9. Jim says:

    obet–Salamat. I guess yom can really relate to my article since you also lost a father while you were young.. I have had no time to send you my list. I hope it’s not too late. i will do it tomorrow.

    claud, cathy–thanks. Glad to have made you feel better.

    tess–thanks. My dad is my idol.

    sachiko–you’re welcome. was just breading an article today about parenthood and your comment echoes it. Yes, while it is true that parenthood calls for sacrifice, if we are happy, we will raise happy kids as well.

    cess–It is important that our children can also look at us as human beings later on ajust as we can do the same with them.

    royce–yes. that afternoon was a golden moment. It keeps me going when I remember it.

    roamee–glad you found comfort in those words.

  10. VICKY says:

    Hi Jim,
    You are your Dad’s spitting image. Maybe your Dad had been your guardian angel and it’s good to know that your relationship with your Mom had gone beyond the mother and son relationship. I would wish for my children to treat me as another individual too, one they can make friends with one day. It will probably take time as they still need to find their place in this universe. Your mom was an amazing woman and she must have been so proud of you.

  11. yang says:

    Hi, I too can relate with your post, but the sad part is that he is not really lost, he is just gone. Knowing that he is there but he is not existent. I am starving for a father since I was so young to remember. I envy my friends everytime I go to their place. I am afraid that it may have a bad effect when I am about to bring up a family of my own. But I have faith in God that he will help me through this, I am just happy that I still have my mom with me *smile*

  12. karampot says:

    I also grew up without my father and I also had the same moments you had. Nevertheless, I had other people who became family and even more than my family so I am not bothered by my situation but grateful for them.

    Just a question. How do you deal with your kids? Do you have the same relationship with them as your Mom or do you feel different? Am asking coz I’m a new Mom and I have so many questions but just don’t have a clue sometimes.

  13. Anonymous says:

    You look so much like your father!

    Great tribute to your parents.

  14. triccy says:

    Dear Sir Jim,

    This is my first time to bump into your blog by chance, and may i say that i am now a big fan, not only of your music, but also of your writing.

    I would like to say that I have never seen anyone write about his parents so lovingly the way I think you did. Reading your thoughts on this post made me remember all those times when my own dad would “just know” that something was hurting me, and he’d gently talk me into sharing with him my thoughts, and give me a pat on my shoulder, as if trying to say, “it’s all right son, I’m here.”

    Cherishing my father is the one thing I haven’t done for the last few years, to be honest, and I think I know it’s going to hurt him if I told him so. I slowly realized my negligence of him as I celebrated my 18th birthday just last September. I thought that that feeling would just come and go like all those other emotions, but this one lingered. And now that I’ve read your entry, my dad telling myself and my girlfriend that “everything is temporal” came back echoing in my mind, now realizing that there are no exceptions to that saying, not even my own dad.

    Thank you for posting this entry sir. I am truly grateful for teaching me again to cherish my dad.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Im scared and excited about the day we’ll all see each other in heaven!

    Galing the pic with your dad! the clothes, shades.. pati the lighting! 🙂

  16. Obet Dionisio says:

    I have just read from Ala’s blog about your wedding anniversary. Belated HAPPY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY to you and Lydia. About the “list”, Ala gave it to me already. Do not worry, I am the over-all in-charge and I assure you the “souls” of those listed by Ala will be included in our prayers/mass for the dead on Saturday.

  17. Jim says:

    vicky–yes, mom was amazing. One day I will write aboiut her life and you will be absolutely stunned and captivated.

    yang–I can totally relate. But you will be surprised that somehow, life will wotrk out fine inspite of his absence.

    karampoyt–I built a compsite father image based on strong male foigures I knew and that’s how I learned to be a dad. Do I treat my kids the way my parents treated me? Kinda but I realize now that I am softer on my kids than my mom was on her kids. But I teach the same values I learned.


    triccy–reach out top your dad. All our loved ones, and us are only on borrowed time. It’s always a good time to show love.

    Doranne–We will see each other there. Curly hair, like love is forever! ha ha. Am happy to hear I look like my dad. To me, he was an amazing man.

  18. Poppycock says:

    I’d have recurring dreams of my father who I lost when I was 16, I’m 42 now. In it he would come home after being gone for too long, detached, melancholic, and about to leave again.

    It’s sad but that’s all I got, apart from the memories that come short to feed my hunger for a dad. He was gentle, and loved to play the piano. He took care of roses too.

    And then I see my husband coming to be more like him. Which is probably one of the reasons why I chose him.

  19. Jim says:

    poppycock–you’re lucky you have a father hunger that is fulfilled in some way by your husband.

  20. Anonymous says:

    heY! i was really touched by this entry. i miss my dad too. i have an entry bout my dad (w/c i just made) hope you could have time to drop by my blog and read that entry. thanks!

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