Sunday, June 26, 2005

Meet the Parents

This is not about the highly popular movie that starred Ben Stiller. Rather, this is my musings about my own parents. My father, in particular since just this past Father's Day, I finally admitted to myself how much I don't want to be like him in terms of parenting.

Now, I don't mean to sound rude. And, I'm certainly not saying I'm a better parent than him. It's just that, until now, and I'm already 29 years old, I'm still hoping and praying for him to be better in terms of sense of responsibility, maturity, wisdom, and most especially financial independence. At the last count, he rates zero on all four. That's sad for someone of his age.

Being the eldest, and good thing there's just the two of us; I've always been the one to take up the slack on my parent's part. Which is, more often than not, always. That would not have been too much of a problem if I were still single. As it is, with a family of my own and with a four-year-old daughter, I don't have much room to maneuver.

It just gets tiring sometimes. Yet, I don't have the heart to turn my back on my mother and brother when they're left in the lurch due to my father's unwise decisions, if they may even be called that.

See, my father can't help himself. Or doesn't want to. He's afflicted with an addiction to gambling. Ever since I can remember, I know him to be a player to all sorts of betting games. Name it, he's tried it and gone back to it again and again at the expense of everything.

He used to have a very good job as a seaman overseas. With his salary in dollars, he was able to finance his gambling. We were okay then, too, since my mother's mandatory remittance was something he could not touch when he was working abroad. So, all's well and I was even able to finish grade and high schools in an exclusive school.

But, then, he got sick with a cataract. I believe his all-night gambling sprees are to be blamed for that, too. When he can get away from work, and he'd really make sure of that, he'd gamble to his heart's content. He'd go for days without eating and sleeping right when he's on the betting tables. When he's on vacation here, there isn't much difference when he's away at sea because I don't get to see him anyway. He loves gambling, he absolutely revels in it. And, for the love of me, I couldn't understand it. I can't see why he'd work hard and then spend it all on a risk. A gamble that when lost, only brings him anger and frustration. (He used to break things when he's really angry about losing in bets.)

He underwent an eye operation and became well. He wasn't able to work abroad, anymore though. And, that's when we really felt the problem. To say we became hard up was putting it mildly. I didn't get to enjoy college as much as I would due to the ever-present financial concerns.

My grandmothers, on both sides, were very helpful, though. But, it wasn't the same since I felt embarrassed to approach them about those things. It wasn't their responsibility and it took a lot for me to come to them for help. In a way, I blamed my father for putting my mother and I in that position.

I really was in a hurry to work after college. Now, it helps a lot that I am able to earn. I provide for our family. I'm still not seeing any improvement in my father's behavior, though. In fact, he's getting worse. Now, he even asks me for money. Of course, I don't give him any except for the occasional jitney fares.

I shudder to think what he'll do when he's really old and no longer able to work and wanting to gamble still. I really pray he'll realize what he's doing before it comes to that.

Sometimes, when you really meet your parents, when you realize that they're not perfect as you thought they were when you were little, when they were giving you all those life lessons, it's sad. But, I guess in that, they're teaching you something, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. » »