This is one if the sentences I recall my mother saying to me frequently when I was a child. Unfortunately, it was never uttered with pride or in an adorning way.
I wish I had a sweet love story to tell about how my parents met and when they fell in love, but I don’t. My parents immigrated to the states separately from the Philippines, my mother from Manila and my father from Navotas. They both left their many siblings, parents and extended families to large extended family for work opportunities in Chicago, IL. A feat I never fully appreciated until watching “90 Day Fiance”.
My father worked as a civil engineer and my mother was an up and coming scientist, who was even featured in the Chicago Tribune.
They got married shortly after my mom was pregnant with my oldest sister, Tina. Two years later my sister Maria was born. And then I, “the mistake”, was born two years after that. I wanted to believe my mom meant “surprise”, but she always followed up her story with, “he didn’t pick up my birth control pills”. I’m not exactly sure why my mother didn’t seem to like me, but I know she was hoping for a boy and had planned to name me Joseph.
I ended up reciprocating her sentiment by growing up a die-hard “daddy’s girl”. My dad was a man of few words, but we shared a bond that was undeniable. When I was only five years old, I remember waking up before 5am each work day to have a cup off coffee with my dad. When he’d leave for work, I’d crawl back into bed and wake up late for school. I wish I would remember what we’d talk about. Perhaps we didn’t talk much at all. I just remember enjoying my time with him. He shared many stories about his boxing days when he was in college in the Philippines. Stories I found to be farfetched even as a child.
I remember it vividly, a few months after they learned my roommate Michael was gay they asked us to meet them for brunch. I should have known they had an agenda because this was not something they’d normally do. As we sat there eating our food, they dove in and asked Michael if he’d consider marrying one of my cousins from the Philippines. He practically choked on his toast before declining his hand in matrimony.
After a long awkward moment, I decided to change the subject and ask my parents how they met. They explained how they were set up on a blind date by a co-worker. “I was so lonely. I would cry all the time, because I missed my family.”, said my mom. “Same. I was so depressed being alone all of the time. I’d cry, too.” Apparently, I was conceived out if loneliness.