NaBloPoMo: “What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of your father?”

Daddy singing karaoke at Uncle Jimmy & Tita Gemma's condo, Oak Park

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt is

“What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of your father?”

I think about his voice.

He sounds tired. Not too tired to make one of his favorite bad puns, though. Or laugh at his own jokes (something I do, too). But tired comes to mind because he has been working for a long time. I don’t know if or when he plans to retire. I hope it’s soon.

In person his voice sounds unassuming, unaffected. It’s easy and friendly. He was always making friends on his daily commute to and from work.

I feel like when he speaks Tagalog his voice gets a bit higher. I’m not sure why though I think if he happens to be talking to family in the Philippines, it’s because he’s excited. Or when he’s talking to my mom he’s trying to explain something to her, or maybe they’re about to get into a weird little argument about something I don’t know about because I don’t speak Tagalog myself.

When I was in college, he’d call me a lot on the telephone. He always said he was calling to make sure I was doing okay, but I suspect it was really because he wanted to make sure I was in my own bed (as opposed to somebody else’s) at 7am or whatever ungodly hour he’d ring. His voicemail messages used to frighten my roommates — actually, it might have just been Andrew and Seema the summer after we finished our second year of college. I think my father’s tendency to whisper his messages made his voice all growly and low, so it sounded like I had a stalker.

The picture above was taken last summer, when my parents last visited Chicago. Their visit coincided with July 4th weekend, so I met up with them, my aunts, and my uncle, and we visited the Taste of Chicago. Unlike our 2008 visit to the food fest, Uncle Jimmy did not bring food with him. Afterward, we went back to Jimmy and Gemma’s condo to sing karaoke while we waited for Tita Lot and Tita Josie to get some Filipino takeout. My dad was really into it while my aunts and my uncle preferred to gossip. Dad sung a bunch of songs, but the one that stuck out for me was “Vincent”, a Don McLean song that my mother said was played at their wedding.

It was really beautiful.

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