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I never knew my dad. Mom said he left even before I was born. I know the important parts of the story but I never pried for more information because I just wasn’t that interested. Never have and never will.

“But surely you’d want to meet him now?” a friend asked. To which, I replied, “No, not really. I have nothing to say to him.” Hand on my heart, I say that without any resentment or bitterness. I just don’t see the point.

You see, where I lacked in male role models growing up, the rest of my family – mostly female, by the way, save for my uncle who was a “special child” – more than made up for it. My mom didn’t have any brothers, apart from Tito Budoy who had the mental capacity of a 5-year old. (I don’t know the politically correct term for it nowadays, but growing up, it was referred to as being mentally retarded). I didn’t get to meet my grandfathers, either. My mom’s dad passed away when she was only 12 and my great-grandfather, I think died just after I was born. Although, when I was about 4 years old, I “met” my great-grandfather. I was playing in a plastic wash basin, pretending it was a boat and I was rowing in an imaginary river along the hallway at our old house. Slowly, the room along that corridor – then serving as a storage room – opened and a grey see-through man stood at the door, smiled, and waved at me. Years later, I saw an old photo of my great-grandfather and recognised him as the grey man.

Okay, so back to male role models and father figures…or lack thereof. There were instances when I was a child that I questioned my mother about this. I would go from “why wasn’t our family normal” to “I don’t want you to ever get married” and then back to “I want a baby brother!” I think I might have asked if she couldn’t possibly try to work it out with my dad. I was a kid and I was a little confused, I suppose. I didn’t understand why my father could never possibly marry my mother. For one, he was already married when they met. Besides, from what little I know about him and knowing what my mother is like, I don’t think they were a match. Hahaha! Thinking back on it now, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My childhood might not have been as happy as it was if things had been different.

Oh, I did meet my dad two times in my entire life. The first time was when I was about five. He suddenly appeared at our doorstep. The details are hazy and I honestly don’t remember what he looked like. Then the second and last time was during my seventh birthday party. I don’t even think he knew it was my birthday. I vaguely remember pretending to be asleep after all the other guests had left so that he would leave too and not bother me or my mom. Again, the details are hazy and I could be wrong about the facts but that’s all I remember.

When I graduated from college, my mom wrote an article about me in the Inquirer and there was a line she wrote that sums up exactly how I felt about my father-less situation. She said, “For after all, my daughter, who only knows her Father in heaven, has always looked heavenward in moments of sorrow and joy, contrition and thanksgiving, doubt and affirmation, failure and success. Perhaps this is the reason she is a geologist, one who studies the earth: it is a form of homage to the Creator.”

I think I’ll leave it at that because reading it again is making me choke up. It’s an absolute truth and even at the height of my depression when I tried to kill myself, I never lost sight of my Heavenly Father. Let’s just say, I chose to ignore Him then. But NEVER AGAIN.

When I was in primary school, I had a classmate whose parents had separated. She and her five (or was it six?) siblings lived with her dad. One day, when we were sharing stories about being in a single-parent family, she said something that has stayed with me to this day. She said, “I think you’re luckier than me even if you haven’t met your dad. At least you don’t know what you’re missing. I knew my mom for a while and then she left and I know how I miss her and that things will never be the same without her.” I didn’t know what to say to her then and I still don’t know what to say to her now. I do count myself pretty lucky, and I have my family to thank for that. I’m still sort of in touch with this classmate and she’s done pretty well for herself and she has to thank her single-parent dad for that.

On all counts, my mom has also been my father-figure. She’s taught me how to stand up for myself and for others. Having worked in a predominantly male industry and has run with the boys, she showed me that I could do the same. And she’s definitely taught me that we don’t need men to fix things around the house. We do that ourselves! You know, change lightbulbs and fuses, tinker with mechanical things, basic carpentry, change a faucet washer…those kind of things. I’ve one-upped her because I know about cars too. 😉

Let me tell you something, I don’t believe surveys and statistics that suggest that children who grow up with both a mother and a father fare better in life than those that come from single-parent families. That’s just not true. I am a testament to this and on the flip side, I could name a few who grew up in a typical family unit and still managed to screw up their lives. The important thing is that you grow up in a happy family environment.