Super man

By: Fatima Ignacio Gimenez - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Philippine Daily Inquirer | June 19,2023 - 07:45 AM


“Doctor, ayaw po kumain, masakit po ang tiyan.” Recently diagnosed with a bad type of childhood leukemia, chemotherapy had just started and the infectious disease service was called in to look for a focus as his little girl was persistently febrile. Giving both parents a medical briefer on the intended workup and initial empiric treatment, one could sense the anxiety, the fear of the unknown, and the effort exerted from trying their best to hold it together. Her father had that faraway, glazed look and couldn’t maintain eye contact. In a low monotone, he shared that they had a tough night despite the pain medication and she only got to sleep when she found the most comfortable bed, Daddy.


It looks like Dad is in charge today. A friend recounted an early morning experience of having witnessed a four-year-old badgering his father saying, “Daddy, Daddy, gusto mo, gusto mo, gayahin kita, gayahin kita, katulad ng ginawa mo kanina?” The little boy was pulling repeatedly on his father’s shirt sleeve and had that earnest expression on his face. The father was obviously exhausted, even exasperated, and could have easily snapped back but chose to reward his son with a loving, patient look and quietly gave his approval.


“Please don’t tell her that my blood pressure isn’t coming down, she will be extremely worried and I want her to enjoy her trip.” Her father was a man known to hardly ask anyone for a favor and his friends, in spite of their misgivings grudgingly agreed. Extremely nauseated and feeling his head was about to explode, he brought her to the airport and assured her that he would still be the one to pick her up when she returned. An only daughter, it was her first time flying solo for a trip to the beach with her friends, and for him, nothing should absolutely get in the way of her having the thrill of the experience.


Cannonball-like lesions. That chest radiograph just meant one thing, the cancer had metastasized. Two years prior, my beloved father had been diagnosed with colon cancer stage IIIB. As doctors, my brother and I were aware of the course and the eventual outcome of the disease, but knowing is very much different from seeing the evidence in black and white. Lost for words and a plan, I could only hug and tell him to wait in the lobby, having been the designated driver for the day. Managing to get to the parking lot as if on autopilot mode, reality only set in upon hearing an extremely loud thud. The dent the van received was inconsequential as compared to facing a future with a heartbreaking loss. Later that night, as we sat together on the bench, it was a struggle to give him the news. This time, my father was the patient and the one delivering was not a doctor but a daughter. He was very calm and introspective. In the weeks that followed, he spoke about wanting to attend his only granddaughter’s graduation, which was a year and a half away. That was 14 years ago and though time has dulled the pain, it still lingers.

A father is stereotypically the one to bring the food to the table, provide for the education of his children, and address the financial needs of the family. As the man of the house, he has the last say. From a legal point of view, one of the things I learned in the past week from a renowned doctor-lawyer was that the father is the final decision-maker in end-of-life issues in the event of a parental dispute.

The short stories shared are just some of the many, reflective of a father’s love and his strong sense of responsibility to fulfill his duty. His role in the family and society places him in a very challenging position. As a principal figure in his children’s eyes, his influence is far-reaching. They say that a father will always be his son’s first superhero and a daughter’s very first love. Honor them with your words and your actions while you still can.

Happy Father’s Day.

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