My father, an advertising man, fondly nicknamed Jimmy passed away from liver cancer in August 2000. He was such a prankster, a very jovial person, loved by many. My siblings and I had a lot of tidbits to share about this wonderful man. Here are a few memorable ones that we often shared amongst ourselves.
In the Philippines, it was customary to have at least a 3 day wake before the funeral, to give friends and family a chance to view the loved one before they're finally laid to rest. We would take turns catching some much needed sleep the whole 3 days. My father's receiving was done in a Memorial Chapel, to have enough room for the massive crowd that came to pay their last respect. Some of us who couldn't sleep in the chapel, with the heady scent of flowers in the air, would go home and get caught up on a few hours of sleep.
So, my sister decided to go home and went straight upstairs to our old room and plopped on the bed and drifted off to sleep right away. Our maid, Aida, was downstairs going about her usual chores. Suddenly Aida was startled by my sister screaming. Aida quickly ran up the stairs and saw my sister numbed with horror and crying hysterically. After a few seconds, my sister finally calmed down after a few sips of water and told Aida what terrified her. My sister was sleeping on her side and turned the other way. For some reason, something was telling her to open her eyes. When she did, she was looking right at my father's face, laying on his side facing her. He had a stern and unhappy look on his face. She sat up, terrified, and he disappeared just like that. That's when my sister started screaming. She could never forget the look on my father's face as he stared back at her. It was after a couple of months when we found out that when my father was on his death bed, my sister was pregnant and was keeping it from us.
Another night, when the crowd started trickling off, my mother, my grandmother and my aunt decided to go to my aunt's place for some shuteye. It was uneventful, as they all woke up refreshed and ready for another day. While they were getting ready, my aunt nonchalantly told my mom that she felt my grandmother moving around last night in the dark and felt her hand on my aunt's ankle. My mother looked at her strangely and said she felt a hand on her ankle as well. Imagine their surprise when they found out that my grandmother slept in another room with my cousin. So, over a quick breakfast, they were all talking about it, my grandmother said she felt a finger lightly scraping the sole of her feet. "It's Jimmy, up to his tricks again."
There were some instances, especially around 2-ish in the morning, my brothers and some male cousins would sleep in the chapel (and no, we don't leave the dead by themselves) and they would wake up to hear noises coming from the chapel kitchenette as if somebody was dragging their slippers around and opening and closing the door to the fridge. Once they've mustered enough courage to check, they would find out that nobody was in the kitchenette. When they told us about what went on at night, my mother would tell them about my father, during the last months before he died, would drag himself to the personal fridge they had in the room and rummage around for a snack. It always woke her up because he would always open and shut the fridge door, quite noisily.
The last time my father let his presence known was the day we laid him to rest. This was in the morning of the fourth day. We were pretty much up the night before, as it was the last day he was physically going to be with us. After the services and all, we finally got settled in, all exhausted, we decided to spend the first night in my parents' bedroom to keep my grieving mother company. And I think, we just wanted to be a family unit. My mom slept on the bed with my son, Justin. My brothers slept on the floor and me and my sister, by the window. We all slept peacefully, or so I thought. We all woke up the next day, still exhausted but somewhat recharged.
While fixing breakfast, my younger brother sat down at the dinner table with this worried look on his face. When asked what's going on with him, he said, "I don't know if I want to tell you, but I feel that I should..."
My parents' bed was a huge white block of a bed that my father designed himself. At the foot of the bed was a heavy chest drawer where my mom kept her mementoes of baby clothes, old love letters, dried flowers and all that. During the night, my brother, Ron, woke up because he had this need to go to the bathroom. As he turned to face my parents' bed, what he saw made him gasp. There was my father, sitting on the chest, facing the bed, and looking very sad at my mother and my son as they lay peacefully asleep. He was still decked out in the clothes that we buried him in.
My brother's first thought was, where was my father's legs since it was inhumanly possible for a person to sit that way? There wasn't any!
Without taking his eyes off my father's apparition, he reached behind him to try to shake my other brother awake. I guess because Ron got really scared that he made a loud sound. And soon enough, the apparition went away.
Needless to say, we were all over him for not waking us up and all that. My mother cried because she didn't get to see my father that night. And to this day, she never felt anything nor dreamnt about my father.
After that, I have always kept my eyes open, even in the shower.