Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BRAVE HEART


Anyone can be a dad but it takes a lot of guts to be a real father.  That title and privilege to bear a child into this world is not simply earned through a piece of paper a man signs. Instead, the true measure of being a father is seen and felt through one’s capacity to love unconditionally and his dedication, support and sense of responsibility.
 

I’m sure we’ve all met different kinds of fathers from all walks of life. There are working dads and even stay-at-home dads. Some are working abroad, while some come in the form of single moms who take the responsibility of both mother and father. There are those who assume parenting responsibilities from other dads, say grandparents, godparents, surrogate dads or father figures. I grew up with a stepfather who became one of the most influential persons in my life. By some unexpected twist of fate, a loving stepfather also figured in my daughter’s life. Papa, Dada, Daddy, Tatay, Ama… They may not make sense it various parts of the world but they all have one meaning to a child. To most, a father is a knight in shining armor who they can run to for protection, support and sound advice. How children put face to each name is a different story altogether. These narratives are not found in common fairytales, but are written in a child’s memory with every significant encounter and are translated through one universal language called love.

 
It’s so timely that Father’s Day this year follows our very own Independence Day celebration --- a time when we commemorate the freedom bestowed upon us by heroes past. In a way, our fathers are also our heroes and they’d had their own share of battles just to sustain. Ask any child why he thinks his dad is a hero and he’ll give you a long list of adjectives and situations to support his claim. While each father and child have their own story to tell, I’d like to share this story about a father who fought hard for his child’s life. He is one who whose faith and strength did not falter even when he was faced with one of the most painful battles any parent can imagine.

 
 
LIFE LINE

Youngest of 8 siblings, Dr. Jess Delgado, 35 years old, proudly hails from the academe. For 10 years, he has mentored students on accountancy and entrepreneurship.

“Teaching is my passion. There is a sense of fulfillment in being able everything to share what I know throughout my years of studying. I do not only teach by the books, but also through what I’ve learned in life. Teaching is not an easy job. You don’t simply just impart knowledge but you also try to make a difference in a kid's life. You try to open their mind and change the way they see things. I was given the oppotunity to join Ateneo de Davao’s School of Entrepreneurship where I am currently teaching students the rudiments of business based from my own ventures. I teach them the principles of sustaining a business, how to handle loses and be innovative in creating business ideas and solutions.”
 

Happily married for 8 years to Bianca Estabillo, a former colleague of mine who also happens to be one of my daughter’s godmothers, Jess says he finds joy in raising their children, 7-year old Jada Anaiah and 5-year old Jaden Isaiah.
 

“In between my hectic schedule at work, I make sure I always have time to play with the kids. I take time to bring them to movie dates and trips out of town. It brings me to tears when the kids ask me to stay with them when I am away on a trip.” Family is important to both parents. Jess looks back at his childhood and credits his upbringing for his positive outlook on survival and value for family ties.
 

“My siblings and I did not grow up having everything we needed. My mother died of cancer when I was just 7 years old. Father needed to work doubly hard to sustain our needs. He needed to feed 8 kids and send everybody to school. We experienced having our electricity and water lines cut off for months and we were even kept out of school gates because we weren’t able to pay tuition fees on time. It was tough but despite of it all, we were happy. It kept our family together. The key to our survival was through helping one another and finding happiness even in the smallest things. We understood that our father needed to work harder and we helped him. We needed to transfer to different schools for him to afford our education. We worked our way through high school by being part of the volleyball varsity. We learned how to sell things from nails, scraps and metal junks just to have extra money. I also remember taking different side jobs such as delivering tubs of soy sauce and working in an electrical store in Uyanguren.” His difficult yet humble childhood taught him the value of hard work and what it takes to earn for a living. In a way, it prepared him for family life.

 

What Jess wasn’t prepared to face was the possibility of losing his son. Early on in the marriage, their second child, Jaden, was diagnosed of a life-threatening condition that shook the family to their core and altered their life altogether.
 
“Just a day after her delivery, my wife told me our son, Jaden, had heart murmurs and that a 2D echo laboratory exam was needed to check on his condition. A flood of emotions came and I couldn’t think of anything else but my son’s survival. At 2 days old, he was already battling for his life. His 2D echo results showed that he had tetralogy of fallot, a very complex congenital heart disease brought about by pulmonary stenosis and holes in his heart that needed to be patched. My heart sank. We took turns in looking after him 24 hours a day after he was brought home. We cried almost everyday. My wife looked after him like a robot, programmed herself to check his every move, heartbeat, etc. At that time, Jada, our eldest, was only 2 years old and my wife needed to balance her time in looking after both kids. While she had already resigned from work because of her delicate pregnancy with Jaden, Bianca had to totally give up corporate world because of Jaden’s condition. Being the man of the house, my role is to provide for the family. We had a pending immigrant application for abroad. We were practically good to go and it was only a matter of waiting for Bianca to give birth before the Embassy could give us the go signal to leave. When they found out about my child’s illness, the Embassy denied our application. We were so hopeful about migrating abroad as a family because that seemed to be, at that time, the only chance for my son to be operated.”
 

“A heart surgery is too expensive for us. So, after accepting the bad news that came, I decided to look for sidelines and part time jobs, aside from my regular teaching job,” Jess explains. “I taught in 2 more colleges as a part time teacher, became solutions analyst for several businesses, installed CCTV’s and accounting technology systems, and even ventured into agribusiness and banana export. My son’s survival was my driving force and I had my own father’s teachings to nourish my soul. God led the way and he gave me so many opportunities to earn. Through God’s grace and prayers from friends and family, we were able to save enough for Jaden’s operation. In 2011, Jaden, who was then 2 years old, successfully underwent surgery.”

 

The couple also had to ask for blood donors, in case Jaden would need some during the operation. This posed quite a challenge for them as it left them with limited possibilities. Given Jaden’s age and condition, it required them to only accept donors without history of alcohol use or any illness that occurred 6 months back, on top of the usual restrictions on bloodletting. Finally, after a week, they were able to find qualified donors.
 

“After his operation, Jaden had transient seizure,” Jess recalls. “The entire left part of his body jerked and got paralyzed for an hour. We needed to rush him to the hospital again. We only had 3 hours to rest after he was discharged from the heart center. At that moment, it was hard to believe that Jaden had a stroke at 2 years old. His stroke didn’t have anything to do with his heart condition, though. It just happened. That incident put our lives to another pause but, eventually, we became witness to God’s healing as Jaden became stronger by the day. God healed him completely. Before, he couldn’t stand running around. He would lie on the floor to rest and, sometimes, even vomit he catches his breath. But, now, he can run and jump around. He's normal. He can play with his sister, wrestle with her, etc. Just this year, we enrolled him in a Wushu class. He’s so active now and he can do cartwheels, headstands and many other things he couldn’t do before.”
 

Jess keeps his hopes up and says that there is nothing impossible if you work to make things happen. “Do not lose hope. There is a solution to every problem. Let your family serve as your inspiration and let God guide you. I try to be the best dad to my daughter and son. I am not perfect, but with the support and love from my wife, I know I am on the right track. Our family’s health and welfare remain top priority. Fatherhood is actually is a gift because it’s a life changing experience and you get to live the rest of your life watching your kids grow up to be person you are preparing them to be. Everything that we do as fathers grooms them for the future. We should be a good example to them. Along that process, you have to give them space to learn, but make sure you are there when they turn to you for support and guidance."
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Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.

1 Comments:

At June 11, 2014 at 2:18 PM , Blogger Donna Ocon -Juezan said...

Very inspiring story!

 

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