#29ReasonsWhy | No. 29: The selflessness of my parents

To die is gain, but to live is Christ, and to be loved by Parents.

Photo op for Father’s Day 2017

I cannot think of a better way to put it, so I am just borrowing JR’s opening line in his message to his parents on his and Em’s wedding day:

We didn’t have much but you gave us everything we needed, (even some of what we wanted).

I will never recall a day that I did not have baon to school. Now, I wonder if at some point, that meant an afternoon for you without merienda.


Is selflessness an innate human quality that gets deactivated by having your first child, or is it a trait you gradually develop while raising them? Is it something that you acquire growing up — modeled by your own parents — and that becomes evident when you finally have your own family? Does it have to do with one’s generation — a cultural meme that you acquire when you belong to the generation whose parents survived a war? Is it imposed by society, demanded by social structures, forced by circumstances? Is it fruit of the Holy Spirit, a fingerprint of the Creator, an expression of Christ in you?

Do I also have it in me? Will I ever be able to demonstrate it as much as my parents have to us, their children and now, even their grandchildren?

Have you known my parents before we happened? (As Noel would put it.) Have they ever been this selfless since they were younger? What were their dreams? (As Noel would ask.) Did they have to give up their own dreams, so that we could reach ours? Did they just decide at one point that their dreams would be what our dreams are now?

Is it selfishness to relish in their kindness, and their love, and their selflessness for life?

Is it normal to desire to be able to pay back, even if I know that I am not being asked to do so and that I will never be able to do so fully? Is it healthy to feel guilt and shame that seven years from graduation, I still cannot claim that they are now enjoying the return of their investment in the prime years of my existence? Does a son as he grows old really reach this point when it feels like words of affirmation alone are beginning to lose their value? I love you is correctly spelled as a sponsored trip or an expensive gift, and I want to take care of you is properly pronounced as a weekly grocery bag or a regular companionship when seeing the doctor.


Papa and Mama, you are one of the #29ReasonsWhy I look forward to turning 29, and spending another year or another decade (and even more, if I am lucky) of enjoying and enduring Life on planet earth. Always my hope is that not a day passes that you feel unloved, no matter the circumstance. We love you more than we are able to say or show it.

I would keep you for life, if I could.
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