Honesty will make even the Toughest of Men Cry.

My dad is the toughest man in the world. He’s the purest form of pride and strength. He will die for his principles — for every single thing he believes in.

He is the master sargeant in our own little bootcamp we call “home.”

What he says is “so.” Every word he says is the truth, the final judgement, the reality. Whatever he says is “so,” and had to be done or else — the world will rumble in fear.

So yeah, my dad is the strictest man in the world.

 

He had this belief… A belief that “only nurses get rich.” No! Lawyers, doctors, engineers, businessmen are poor. Only nurses get rich… quick.

 

He groomed me and my brother to be nurses. “Your future is nursing. And only nursing. Nothing else.”

 

Note: this had nothing to do with nursing, it’s just that nursing was the big earner 20 years ago. So yeah, my dad thought nursing is still the “profession to be” 20 years later.

 

To make the story short, he put the fear of God in our hearts. “Be a nurse, OR ELSE!”

 

I never wanted to be a nurse. I tried convincing myself I’d “probably” be okay with it. I convinced myself to like it. I was dishonest, I was in denial — I was lying to myself.

I was weak back then. My brother got kicked out of the house for standing up for himself — and not take nursing. What was I to do? A weak ole 16 year old girl would say “yes” to her father’s wishes. I did. I took nursing.

 

So I went through all the heart-breaking, life-shattering, self discoveries. I finally listened to that little voice… That little voice that kept repeating the same words over and over again.

 

“You never wanted to be a nurse. Never…”

 

I was covering my ears the whole time, too busy with self-denial.

 

That little voice? I call him God. Some people call him conscience, some call him Jiminy Cricket, some call him an angel, and some just call it “the little voice inside your head.” But I call him God.

 

I finally surrendered. I broke down in tears and cried. I knelt down crying, and proclaimed my “absolute surrender.”

 

“God… this isn’t working for me. I’ve tried everything… Why am I still not happy? Why??”

So I surrendered, ”I’ve done everything MY way so far, yet it isn’t working. So let me do it YOUR way for a change… What is it you want me to do, God?”

 

A voice answered, “What is it you always wanted to do?”

 

And just like that, it disappeared. In just a snap, I never heard that voice again.

 

“Wait! What is it??? What is it you want me to do?!? Wait! Don’t leave me… Please… don’t leave…”

 

I never heard that voice again.

 

The next few years was painful. Those words, “what is it you always wanted to do” kept ringing in my head.

 

“What is it? What is it?,” I asked and asked… and asked again.

 

The years of self-reflection was hard. Those agonizing years of self discovery was painful. I had to tear my life apart, I had to tear my soul into pieces — then on to my body, then the mind. I was beaten, bleeding, in pieces — left to rot in the scorching sun.

 

I was born, bred, programmed, nurtured to be a nurse. That’s all I knew my whole life, my world would shatter if I was to defy it. I was persecuted, crucified, outcasted.

 

That’s how hard my life discovery was.

 

But God was good. I kept praying, I always had faith. One day, I was eating at our call center cafeteria, I forgot what food it was but I said, “I could cook better than this.”

 

“All it needs is a little bit of spice, then pepper then…..”

 

Then the world shattered. It shattered into pieces. And it all came tumbling down on me.

 

I always cooked. I was always good a cooking. In fact, I loved it! My shelf is full of cooking books. My internet explorer bookmarks is full of cooking sites.

 

Facepalm moment.

 

Why the heck did it take so long for me to realize it?

 

I was dumbfounded. I felt like the stupidest girl in the world. After all, it took 28 years for me to realize my true destiny. Cooking! I wanted to be a chef!

 

Then at that exact moment, I heard the voice again. “I love you…”

 

I know he was smiling. “I love you too, God!” I smiled back.

 

So there you go, everything’s set. All that’s left is this little, itsy bitsy, tiny thing. This tiny thing called “standing up to my father.” Right…

 

So here I am, shaking, shivering, breaking in tears. After all, I have to face my biggest fear. I have to face “the man” himself. The man who literally put the fear of God in my heart.

 

If it wasn’t for my hubby’s support, I would never have done it. (I love you, dear.)

 

But I did it.

“I’m sorry, dad. But I will be unhappy if I continue on nursing.”

 

As expected, the world trembled. He got to practice his shouting skills at me.

 

“After all these years of hard work just to pay for your nursing school, you’ll actually flush it down the toilet!?! How in the hell are you going to America now!?!”

 

“Look around, dad! Who’s getting to the U.S. these days??? Nurses are unemployed!,” I would argue back.

 

Too painful to remember. Moving on.

 

The next few months, we barely spoke to each other. My brother, the ‘original’ who defied my father’s wishes was a full blown web programmer now. He knew how painfully scary it was to stand up to our father. He supported me all the way and even paid for my culinary school. Thanks, brother.

 

My dad and I barely spoke for months. My family was breaking apart. I broke down again, “Why God?? I was finally honest with myself. I was finally true to myself. But why would this still happen??”

 

I heard the answer again. “I love you.”

 

Strangely, it somehow soothed me. It somehow soothed the pain. I felt positive somehow, that everything would work out. I never felt anything like that before. It’s so strange.

 

June 2009. I had an aunt who was a pediatrician in the Philippines but is now a nurse in Vegas. We visited her.

 

I could still recall how big my dad’s eyes got in confusion when I told him my hubby and I got approved for tourist visas. And we did it all by saving half our salaries for two years.

 

His eyes were wide as dinner plates, “but… but… but… You guys aren’t nurses. How can you get visas?!?”

 

I gave a laugh. “Dad! I even scratched out my nursing credentials when I applied!”

 

“Huh?”

“Or else I’d never be approved.”

 

My dad would still not believe it.  He would request pictures. Pictures as proofs that we were “really there.” Cute.

 

He really couldn’t believe it. I got a visa on my own without nursing? His whole world collapsed right before his very eyes. I must admit, I did find a small amusement in that.

 

December 2009. We flew back home. I was expecting the cold stare look of disappointment from my dad, like I always do. But instead, he broke down crying.

 

Now I’ve seen everything. My strong, steel-hearted dad breaking a tear? Hell officially froze over.

 

But no. My aunt (without our knowledge) explained to him the reality of nursing — and how bleak it was.

 

Sobbing, “I’m sorry, my dear, Ambria. I’m so sorry…”

 

“It’s okay, dad. It’s okay…”

 

Then I heard the voice again one final time… “I love you.”

 

Brother dear even joked, “Our father actually admitted he was wrong for once… Hell officially froze over!”

Yes, my brother is a smart-ass.

It used to be super scary when they argue back in the day. But now, I find it amusing.

 

There, enlightenment came… this “had” to happen. We were always meant to be broken into pieces and reconstructed back into a better “us.”

 

My father and I broke down. Like lego toys, we were defective, ugly, malformed. After all, that’s how we made our lives. We lived our lives OUR OWN way. We never even let God had a say in it, so we turned out to be broken, defective beings.

 

God had to take us apart piece by piece and reconstruct us into works of art.

 

Of course it had to be painful!

 

Romans: How weird would it be if the mold of clay spoke back to the potter, “hey! Not so rough!”

 

But the potter is the master. He knows better. He needs to mold and mold… and mold again. Till finally, turn us into works of art.

 

I found my dream, my family was fixed — my life was fixed. “Thank you so much, God. I owe everything to you…”

 

“I love you…” The final words I heard.

 

I finally understood it. All these times, I finally understood what he truly meant. What He meant before was, “I love you. But please hang in there because I have to mold you. Yes, it will be painful but I love you so much — I have to turn you into a complete person… into a work of art.”

 

I understood now…

 

 

Epilogue: A life shattering Aftermath.

 

Mom visited me one day. “Where’s dad?” I asked. It was weird she took the jeepney, dad always drove her around.

 

“I came alone.” Then she handed me a dusty old photo album. Like, really old — black and white photos.

 

“What’s this?”

“Open it.”

 

“Awww! How cute! You and dad were young! Newlyweds!”

 

She smiled back. But she looked like she was waiting for something.

 

What am I missing here? Am I supposed to see something?

 

Wait!

 

What’s this? Why is there always what looks like yummy home-cooked meal on the table? — Mom never cooks! And why is dad wearing an apron the whole time?

 

My sweet mom smiled. “Where did you first learn how to cook?”

 

And then… I came to a life shattering realization (again). The pieces were put together.

OH MY GOSH!! My dad would always cook the meanest adobo, asado, pata, nilaga, sinigang — basically, all the good stuff!

 

“He dreamed of opening his own carinderia back in the days.”

 

I was in shock. But I remember… I so remember… it was my dad! My dad first taught me how to cook! I remember! I was five, I always spend time with my loving father in the kitchen… until I got good enough to experiment on my own — It was dad all along!

 

“What happened, mom?” I finally asked.

 

Your dad always had talent. You know… he passed it on to you. But never, I mean never did have the courage you and your brother had — to pursue one’s dream. 

I think it was of love for both of you. He didn’t take risks. He always talked about putting up his own food place, but never really quit his company.

“What if it doesn’t work and my kids would go hungry?What if I won’t have money to pay tuition because I quit my job?” He always said.

He always had those concerns. He never pursued his dreams because he never took risks. He was too scared he would put you guys through suffering if things didn’t go well. He loved you guys…

 

This would sound redundant now but I broke down crying… again. This was the final ground, the stamping point. We finally discovered dad’s root. Why he turned out that way.

 

Somewhere along the line, he thought rising up the company would give his family a better future. He worked — he worked hard. He finally became manager. But it was always never “that.”

 

We needed “him” — not how much he earned. We needed and loving, happy father. Not a stern, controlling one.

All those years of hard work, on a profession he never really wanted. Spending his entire life doing something he Didn’t love.

 

This made him bitter. Yes, it will make us all bitter. We would go through all the midlife crisis, “What did I do with my life? Did I do the right thing? Why am I not fulfilled? Why is something missing?”

 

This was God’s final stamping point. Our family was now truly complete. It had to be broken piece by piece and reconstructed into a “true” one. I love God, I love my family.

 

My father always bugged me my whole life. And till today, he still does.

 

But this time, it different. This time, he’d always bug me, “When are you going to start your restaurant already! I want to manage it!”

 

It brings tremendous joy to my heart everytime I hear that.



ambria

About ambria

A nursing graduate. Works at a call center and teaches English to Koreans during weekends. Hey, we do anything we could to survive right? I'm putting myself to a culinary school. I want to have my own restaurant someday, wish me luck!

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  • Chickeekay

    Woah! This story is sending shivers. It felt like I’m reading my future. We have the same story on “I Love You, but Nursing is Still the Biggest Regret of my Life” and now this.

    I had a chance to reflect on my life when I was abroad last year working as nurse. (So much for trying to love nursing.) It was then that I realized what I really wanted to do with my life and who influenced me with it. Surprise! It was my father. The #1 person who’s pushing me, until today, to pursue nursing.

    • Ambria

      Wow. Thank you. I appreciate it :)

      So what is it you really wanted to do anyway? :)

      • Chickeekay

        I love art. I want to tell stories. I love to capture moments. Documentarian, reporter, photojournalist – those kinds of jobs.

  • mhar

    Im also a RN now, i can relate to you…huhu