Buried beneath my clutter I found a musty, old letter that my dad wrote to me back when I turned 6. I love my clutter. I love rediscovering stuff I had forgotten I had.
Back then, my dad was still a junior officer in the Philippine Navy and was always at sea or at some coast or at some pier. We seldom saw him but whenever he was around, I vaguely recall him bringing us aboard docked naval vessels whenever he was in Manila or Cavite. The distinct scent of navy ships — the addictive smell of fuel or oil combined with the smell of the rusty iron walls and saltwater — , the rhythmic humming of the engines, their vibrations, and the gentle rolling of the ships underneath the feet are familiar elements of our childhood. It is of little wonder that my brother’s hobby is building scale model naval ships (the smell of the adhesive must somehow remind him of the smell of the ships). I, on the other hand, was into naval officers/men in uniform ended up being married to a naval officer-turned marine-turned rebel soldier-turned my aide-de-camp. We met on a ship, by the way, and people were not surprised.
A lovely birthday greeting straight from 1983… and how touching. I can imagine my dad missing us and longing to go home. Life at sea could be so lonely, especially if one had a cute daughter he couldn’t come home to!