A little over a month ago, my life's axis tilted in one of those slow motion, paradigm-shifting ways, like in the movies when you see the realization of sudden news unfold in the face of a character you know and are rooting for. My mom called on an unusually gray afternoon and shared the news, in measured pauses, that my dad had passed away. Since that day, it has been a mix of emotions and mental mazes with each day bringing some aspect of this new reality to bear. As the news took root and I spent the subsequent weeks at home making arrangements and spending time with family, one of the realizations that hit me was that my dad filled our home with sound. He had a love of music, timepieces and play. Some of my dad's favorites were the Lettermen, Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees and ABBA. I have fond memories of these records playing on a weekend morning filling the apartment with these melodies. Now that he is gone, the sounds of my childhood home will be forever different but not forgotten. This first post since Fashion & Philosophers' hiatus is dedicated to my dad.
Edgar Yenesa Magallanes was born in 1953 in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. He had two brothers and two sisters. While earning a degree in economics and studying engineering, he had a dream to move to the United States. After college, he befriended and won the affection of a pretty lady named Eva, who had just moved to the Manila area. Their friendship grew and they were married in 1976. The following year, they welcomed their first child, a son named Gary Michael, to the family. In 1981, my dad was recruited by an IT company, which required him to move to Los Angeles. A risky and faithful move, my dad went to LA to work and eventually landed a job in New York City in the World Trade Center. Shortly after, he was able to send for my mom and brother and they were reunited at Christmastime in 1982. Three years later, a spirited baby girl came along. ;)
As we were preparing for my dad's memorial service, one of the surprises of the whole process was discovering a photo album that I have never lain eyes on in my 28 years. It was a brown leather album with "Family Heritage" in gold script lettering on the cover. Inside were pictures of my dad from childhood to the early years of marriage. My dad has always been very sensitive about his past due to an estrangement from his family ever since I could remember. My mom kept these photos hidden for years and unearthed the album after a vigorous search. As I looked at the photos, this whole other side of my dad's life was finally revealed and I spent hours poring over the photos imagining the stories behind the pictures.
One of the best discoveries from this album was finding photos of my parents in the early years of their marriage. In my recent memory, they have definitely had their share of difficulties. It was nice to see them so happy and in love. In another photo album, the first third of photo sleeves was filled with 3x5 photos with handwritten notes on the back of each photo. We learned that when my dad first traveled to LA for work, he took pictures and wrote little captions and notes on the back of each photo and then mailed them to my mom. These were their postcards.
Processing the last weeks with a few close friends, I asked them about their most poignant memory of my dad. After some thought, they shared remembering my dad's love to dance during parties and celebrations. I was so pleased to find these photos of my mom and dad boogieing in the 70's and putting it side by side with this more recent photo. Still got it.
After a decade of battling various health issues and heart ailments, my dad is now free. I feel a duality of relief and love for my father but also grief and confusion because as much as we know the facts about life and death, loss stings. It just does. Even as his health declined, Edgar's mind and spirit remained strong until his passing. His visiting nurse remarked that "Edgar has a fighting spirit." I could not agree more. With each day, I have been increasingly comforted and loved on by the people in our lives, increasingly aware that life is a gift and compelled to live our limited days fully, and increasingly thankful that God's grace, character and love abound in ways that I continue to explore and appreciate. Though he is no longer with us, his memory and his legacy will live on. The sounds of my childhood home will be different now but fortunately, I have a few of his old records, timepieces, games, and dance moves to remind me of his ways. We love you and miss you dad. Happy Father's Day.