Dad talked to me from the hospital he was confined thousand miles away, “Lilian, where did I go wrong in raising you and your siblings? I praise God for you and your three sisters with good education and stability but I worry about your brothers’ future. If I have shortcomings please forgive me.”
“Dad you are the best father for me. You helped and modeled to me and my six siblings a dedicated Christian life in times of hardship and trials. You trained us to be responsible, set goals in life, and be hard working. We made our poor choices and decisions but you were there for us. Do not worry about the three boys. Your example will help them to become a faithful servant of God and family men.”
“I am on my last leg of the journey here on earth. Please love and lead your siblings as the eldest.” Dad rallied on his remaining strength to talk and say goodbye to me. This was our last conversation a week before December 25, 2009.
Dad married Mom with six hundred pesos (12 dollars), one horse, as a mat vendor, and farm worker on January 25, 1958. His great Grandpa gave him a parcel of land with about 50 coconut trees as dowry for my mother. Dad bought a pig and water buffalo for the feast. Mom’s parents butchered several pigs, served boxes of bread in the morning, and other local delicacies as the traditional wedding in the Philippines lasted for several days.
Heavy rain hindered the photographer to join in their wedding. Me and my sisters used to fit in to our Mom’s beautiful faded wedding gown.
Dad was a hard-working farmer and other farmers paid him as harvester and transporter of coconut products. He was skilled in curing and preparing small bamboo poles used in harvesting coconut bunches from the top of the tree. The poles needed to harvest a coconut with an average of twenty to fifty feet high with hook attached on tip of the pole. Dad was paid 6.00 pesos for a thousand coconuts. When the season was good and the coconut flourished he could harvest several thousand a day. Coconut trees harvested every three to five months provided Dad a steady income.
My father owned, cared and trained our horse and water buffalo. He used them to carry the farm produce and coconut in sacks or in baskets of wooden bamboo secured on both sides of the saddle. Dad was paid for transporting the coconut and other farm products to the dealer in town.
My father earned extra income during the lanzones fruit season from September to December where he bought the fruit in the trees when it was still flowers in July and August. He was skillful in projecting the harvest from the flower stage.
My father was a wise spender and good investor. Dad and Mom’s savings was kept in a bamboo pole attached to the wall or rolled in palm leaves. He bought lands and loaned money to farmers for years with a lease agreement to harvest the crops till the agreed term lapsed. Some farmers mortgaged their farm to my father to raise money for their children’s college education.
Fishing in the evening from rivers and creeks gave us as kids the joy of waking up in the morning with lots of fish in the basin.
Dad hunted wild games and fish with me when waiting in between for the crops harvest. We brought cooked rice wrapped in banana leaves. He made seats on the branches of a tree with camouflage covers positioned on top of the hill close to the rivers. We sat on it. He was a sharp shooter. We cooked the game on improvised wooden fire as our viand for the rice. We brought home the extra for the family.
I used to ride on his shoulders when we crossed the river going to town with Mom. I felt as I was tall and secured on my father’s big shoulders. Going to town with my parents was fantastic experience like riding on a public transportation, shopping toys in the store, eating in the restaurants, and bringing home candies and bread.
I would not forget those days when me and Dad delivered coconut products to the dealer in town. Dad whistled as he walked holding the leash of our horse. I followed holding the leash of our water buffalo. In going back home we rode on the animals.
There were days when we went back to our farm house in the evening. Dad securely tied me on the top of the saddle of our water buffalo with more padded sacks for me to sleep. When we arrived home Dad would call Mom. She would hold the kerosene lamp on our front door. Dad woke and untied me. I jumped out of the saddle and ran to Mom’s arm with excitement because I had great news about our visit with relatives and goodies from town.
I treasured my memories of going to school from our farm home. I walked for thirty minutes and had to cross a stream one way. Dad had to carry me on his shoulders crossing the streams during heavy rain because of the strong water current.
There were times when Dad would swung by the school to bring my hot lunch during rainy season. He loved me and so proud of my excellent performance at school that he kept on sharing to his family and friends.
My father brought treats to me and my siblings from the farm or from the town when he delivered the products or do errands.
He arranged me to have sleep overs to my paternal grandfather’s sister who was a pharmacist. Her husband is the family doctor in our town. When I came home, he probed questions about how they lived, what I learned, and encouraged me to pursue higher education. My interaction with educated and successful relatives motivated me to pursue a higher education.
Dad was an excellent planner. We moved to another farm to reduce our cost of living until I finished my first college degree. He constructed a modest bamboo house close to the streams, close to the grade school for my siblings, and in the middle of the coconut plantation where he raised vegetables, cocoa, bananas, and other fruit trees.
My father converted the coconut farm into a coconut honey production. He climbed in the beginning up to the end of those bamboo poles like a bridge with handle. He tied both ends with strong wires on a bamboo pole below where he stepped on it and one bamboo pole on the upper side where he hold and rolled the wooden hook attached to bamboo tube where he poured in the coconut honey. When it was full he poured it in a bigger can, then he lowered it by using a big rope tied it on the bamboo above the bamboo bridge.
The coconut honey was fermented into vinegar and sold in the town market. It was a steady income for our family and support for my college education.
After my graduation we moved back to our home close to the highway.
I was hired by the District Forester of the Bureau of Forest Development in the Philippines in our capital town while completing my dissertation. Dad was my cheerleader. I gave him portion of my first paycheck and he refused to accept it with tears of joy. I took my siblings to town for a movie and snacks as my treat.
Dad reminded us about God early in the morning by reading loud Romans 12:1-21 (Magna Carta for Chrsitian) as reminder for the day. He led our evening family devotion with hymns, Bible reading and prayer of blessings for each of us. We had sharing and kiss Dad and Mom’s hands (sign of respect in our culture) before we went to bed.
The final days of Dad on bed revolved on reading his Bible or requesting Mom and other member of the family to read the Living Word to him. My Mom and siblings were amazed by his love and commitment to Mom. He said, “Your Mom had more than enough support for herself when I passed away. Take care of her.”
In the early morning of December 26, 2009 (December 25 in USA), he sang the Doxology and raised his hand in praying for blessings for Mom and all the children, son-in laws and daughter-in laws by name. After he lowered his hand, he breathed his last on earth and his first breathe in heaven.
My father’s legacy of commitment to God, as a dedicated husband, as a father, and as a hard-working man with integrity influenced me and my six siblings till now. I cannot thank God enough for my Dad who modeled his best for me. What else can I ask for?
Lilian P. Hosfeld is passionate in serving in the prayer and fasting ministry. She loves prayer walking and encouraging people about the love of God. You can connect with her to pray with you at http://www.lilianhosfeld.com.