My Father Did Many Things, But I Will Always Remember Him As…
The Dad Who Brought Me Out For Pizza
By Bo Sanchez
My Dad is gone.
My hero. My mentor. Gone.
An hour before he died, I gently brushed my hand on his grey hair. I looked at his tired face, his wrinkled hands, the tubes attached to his arm—and something in me told me his time was up. He wanted to go home. I prayed a blessing on him. An hour later, he quietly died in his sleep.
Friends, this should have happened eleven years ago…
God Gave Him A Long Extension
Eleven years ago, my father was fixing a light bulb in our garage. He stood on a bench, reached for it, and lost his balance. He came crashing down, the back of his head hitting the concrete floor. We rushed him to the hospital. Soon, he lost control of his limbs. I can still vividly recall that scene when my father, a strong man, was coming down the steps with my two sisters almost carrying him down. He couldn’t move his legs anymore. Through brain scans, the doctors saw three blood clots in his brain. Soon, they said, he would die because of them. They performed two brain surgeries on him. He stayed in the ICU for three months. We almost lost him to severe pneumonia.
But miracle of miracles, he slowly recovered from the grip of death…
God granted him a second life.
To Teach Us To Love More
That was eleven years ago—And how I enjoyed those eleven years!
Yes, he could no longer work or serve the church or community. He could no longer talk clearly. Just garbled words. His eyesight became very bad. And the emotional center in his brain was also damaged, so he became erratic and sometimes acted like a child. He was a mere shadow of who he was.
But for those eleven years, it was so easy to make him smile. All I had to do was bring him out to a cheap Japanese restaurant. He loved his sashimi in wasabe sauce. During this period in his life, eating out with his family was the only thing that made him happy.
For eleven years, I embraced him everytime we met—something I didn’t do before his accident. For eleven years, I always said, “I love you, Dad”. For eleven years, I was in charge of cutting his fingernails and toenails—something I loved to do (and would miss doing.)
I believe one of the reasons why God extended his life for eleven years more was so that we could learn how to love more. That was his last assignment from above.
And then it was time to say good-bye…
His Last Breath
Two weeks, Mom noticed he was getting weaker. She said that he had a hard time climbing the stairs to the Light of Jesus Community Prayer Room right beside his home—a place he frequented twice a day, morning and evening. (For the past 20 years, the Blessed Sacrament has been exposed there, 24 hours a day, and Dad and Mom were up there communing with God each day.)
Seven days ago, because of this growing weakness, he fell on his way up his bedroom, his forehead crashing on the wooden steps. A doctor from the community came to suture his deep wound—12 stitches in all. He went through two brain scans but doctors only saw an old blood clot from eleven years ago. Still, as each day progressed, we observed he was getting weaker.
Four days ago, he could hardly get up from his bed.
When we brought him to the hospital the two days ago, he slept most of the time.
And this morning, an hour after midnight, he breathed his last.
Dad was 88 years old.
Would You Follow A 13-Year Old Boy?
Oh, there are many things that I could say of my father.
For example, for 16 years, Dad served in the Light of Jesus Community as one of the Elders, until his accident forced him to resign.
And whatever group Dad joined, whether it was the Homeowners Association or the Parish Council, he’d always be chosen as the Treasurer. Because he looked so honest. And he truly was. Because of this, he also took care of the finances of our Community. He labored that every single centavo be accounted for. (I believe the reason why we remain strong to this day was because our finances have been above reproach—a legacy he leaves behind.)
More than all this, I believe he was one of the most humble men I knew.
Who among you would follow your 13-year-old boy?
Ever since I started preaching at 13, he sat at the audience listening to me preach. And when we founded Light of Jesus Community when I was but 14, he agreed that I become its Presiding Elder and he only one of its Elders. Though Dad was still the leader in the home, he followed my leadership in community. Dad was Assistant Vice President of San Miguel Corporation and held an MBA degree from the University of the Philippines. Why would he follow his little boy? But he did so because he believed that God anointed me to lead.
All through theses years, he was content in his role as my main supporter.
I remember one day, he pulled me aside and said, “Bo, you have a gift of proclaiming God’s Word. I don’t have that gift. I wish I had it. If I had it, I would preach everyday. Bo, you have that gift. Use it. Use it everyday.”
When I was young, I had crazy ideas. One day, I told the Community to surrender their attachments to God. So in one prayer meeting, people surrendered their jewellery, clothes, and TV sets to God. Dad gave up our sala set, the most beautiful furniture we had, sold it and gave the proceeds to the Community. Yes, no matter how crazy my ideas were, he supported me.
He Brought Me Out To Pizza
But if you were to ask me what I most remember Dad for, I will say, “He brought me out for pizza.”
Dad spent enormous time with me.
Each day, when I was a young boy, we’d jog together. He wasn’t a great jogger mind you. All he did was jog around his car a few times. After the jog, he’d sit down and I’d sit on his lap—and we’d read the paper together. Not the front page, or the business section, or the sports page—but the comics page. He’d read it for me and explain why it was funny. Every single day. As a boy, I remember looking forward to spending time with him each night.
And every Saturday afternoon, he’d say, “Bo, let’s go out”. We’d go for a pizza. A hotdog-on-a-stick. A bag of peanuts. An ice cream cone. We’d also go to a toy store, play with the toys together without buying a single thing. I didn’t mind. My hands may have been empty but my heart was filled with Dad’s love.
He knew I loved pizza.
So when Shakeys opened for the first time in the Philippines, he said he’d bring me there. The problem was that it opened in faraway Angeles, Pampangga. But to him, that was no problem at all. He drove me there just so that I could eat pizza.
It’s true. At the end of one’s life, you’re not remembered by your great achievements. The house you built. The job you had. The money you earned.
At the end of your life, you’ll be remembered by how you loved in small ways. Whether you brought your son for pizza or not.
My father did.
I remain your friend,
PS. Here’s a letter I wrote to Dad.
Dad, I’ll miss you.
I’ll miss cutting your fingernails and toenails.
I’ll miss our hugs together.
Dad, thank you for loving me in the way only you could have done.
You supported me in my work as a Preacher and Leader. No matter how crazy my ideas were, you were there behind me. Thank you for believing in me so much.
Dad, thank you for spending time with me when I was a little boy.
Thank you for letting me sit on your lap, reading the Comics page for me each night. Thank you for bringing me to the toy store. Thank you for the hotdog. The ice cream cone. The pizza.
Hey, your back. The man before the accident. This time, perfected.
You can see beautifully again. All the colors, the beauty, the brightness.
You can talk clearly again—no longer the jumbled words you spoke for 11 years.
You can work again. (Do they need your accounting skills there?)
You can jog again.
Welcome back Dad.
I love you!
PS2. Dad was the one who inspired me to start preaching through media. (He was the one who told me to start Kerygma magazine.) If you want to know more about the ministry that Dad and I started, you can log onto www.kerygmafamily.com and be a member of the KerygmaFamily. When you join, you’ll be spiritually nourished each day!
PS3. Don’t miss a Sunday Blessing! Join the weekly FEAST every Sunday, 9am, at Valle Verde Country Club (Beside the ULTRA), Pasig, for Sunday Mass, lively worship, powerful preaching by Bo Sanchez, and prayers of blessing and healing. Go to where the blessings flow!