It is often said that it is the little things that count, and that is never more true than when taken in the context of what children learn from their parents, as the latter lead by example. Today being Father’s Day, I would like to share with you random things I picked up from Daddy that, at the onset, seemed mundane enough that every other person also probably did it, but through time has proved to be wise and indispensable, if not downright helpful. May my list trigger a memory involving your own father, too, and may you also honor him by the remembrance of it.
Lists. The Post-It was probably invented for my dad. Even before I could read or write I was already familiar with his loopy handwriting on random sheets of little paper here and there around the house. Even his wallet was always interesting to open. Alongside bills and a few photos that he always carried Daddy always had all these little notes to himself, to remind him of this or that.
My sister Caren, who is the most conscientious person I know and is a very close second to Daddy, is inarguably his star student.
Growing up, Daddy would rattle off tasks for us to do and we, being the children that we were, would just nod our way through it. We had absolutely full confidence in our ability to remember everything. “We won’t forget!” we’d tell him chirpily. But he wouldn’t have that. Daddy would insist on us writing it down, says the fact that we most probably will not miss/overlook/forget anything is well worth the effort. He was right, of course. Unless we write down everything, we are bound to forget something.
More than ever now, I appreciate the wisdom of making lists. I may not be able to do all that I write down but unless I tick it off, it remains a glaring reminder that I still have to deal with it. I have taken to carrying over unfinished tasks onto a new list, and in addition to that, categorizing and prioritizing them. On my notepad I make a grid — things to replenish and buy (in the pantry, the toilet, the medicine cabinet), calls to make, letters to send out, repairs that need to be undertaken, areas in the house to declutter, stuff to put in storage, etc. — and I get this smug satisfaction when I am able to cross a lot off at day’s end. Of course, for as long as we breathe there will always be lists to make, and the more you do it the better at it you become. I. Love. Lists.
Little organizers. Daddy had this writing desk made out of wood, it had sides and a back and an accordion-like top that you could pull up or down to expose or cover the desktop. There were narrow drawers across the top of the entire length, right above the slot where the accordion disappeared when pulled up. Covered, the writing desk was handsome. But when the desktop was exposed, it was like a wonderland in my eyes, I who loved bookstores as much as I did toy stores then. There were pens and paper, and all these little chests of drawers that held everything from paper clips and extra staples to tape measures and batteries and tiny flashlights, Band-Aids, bolts and screws, scissors, Mighty Bond, markers, erasers, batteries of all sizes — all these odds and ends that were useful and endlessly fascinating. Daddy has always been like a McGyver of sorts and there was nothing he could not and will not put back together. And he had all the tools necessary to do just that. I think his writing desk is what has prompted my sister and I to also equip our own desks very efficiently. It is a one-stop shop kind of thing; I have to have my own scotch tape dispenser, scissors, stapler, pens, markers, stationery, different kinds and sizes of mailing envelopes, and it really irritates me when someone borrows but never returns them in their proper places because scrambling to find them when I need them defeats the purpose of why I want them all on my desk in the first place. But given that minor setback, it has made the filing of paperwork and the running of the household so much easier for me. My desk is like the depot in the house, the central point where everything that goes in or out gets dumped there first. Having all the office supplies I need, in organized lots, make it all easier to handle.
The Swiss Army knife. If Daddy is fond of someone, he gives one or all of three things — a Swiss Army knife, a nice watch, nice pens engraved with the person’s name. The very first Swiss knife I got from Daddy was when I was Juliana’s age probably, and I still have it to this day. It is especially useful on trips, when there are packages to open, tags to remove, ties to cut off. I always have one on my desk drawers, both here at home and in the office, and always another one in my travel kit. It is almost as important as always having a pen around. You never quite know when you need it.
There are many other things I picked up from Daddy, like how latundan is arguably the most delicious banana variety and how it is even more delicious when eaten sliced, with honey. It was also from him that we all learned to buy things that last, and not waste money on functional items that are only beautiful but not durable. Daddy brought my sister and I to the bank to open a kiddie savings account and was very patient in teaching us as we grew up how to spend wisely. When we would go on summer vacation we would be given shopping money for the whole month, and it was up to us to budget it. He taught us the difference between wanting something and needing it, and not falling prey to extravagance considering especially that there are so many other people who could barely get by.
Thank you, Dad, for teaching me to make lists, for all the Swiss Army knives you gave, and for inspiring me to have an armory of office supplies ever at the ready. In a world where multi-tasking is the new normal, it affords me some semblance of sanity and control even on the craziest and busiest of days. I may never be as organized as you are, from time to time tasks still slip my mind to the point that I do not even get to write it down, but you continue to lead by example. You have been very consistent through the years and I am all the better for it. I’m sure Caren, Matt, and Jules all agree.
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