This picture was taken right after my dad graduated from nursing school. It was a special nursing program specifically designed for foreigners with medical degrees in their respective countries, given by Florida International University. My dad was once a doctor in the Philippines, a cardiologist to be exact. But he left that life behind in order to move his family here to the US. He never returned to practice medicine, but we always knew he missed it. When this opportunity from FIU opened up, we all thought it was his chance to get back into medicine, even if it wasn't to be a doctor.
My dad quit his job as a heart monitor technician at Orlando Health and both my parents moved to Clearwater so that my dad could be a full-time student in this program. It left my mother to be my family's sole income provider. So we as a family sacrificed for almost two years for all of that to culminate to this day, the day this picture was taken. We were all so proud of him! He was one of the oldest in his class, but at 58, he did it!
We had no idea that this picture would be the last family picture we would ever take all together. Sadly, almost two months later, my father passed away unexpectedly. I never got the chance to say a last goodbye, let alone tell him how much I loved (and still love) him. And although it's been almost two years, a part of me is still shattered by this loss. (Oh my. I just got done saying that I like to keep things light on this blog! It's just hard not to get choked up and serious when I talk about my dad.)
But I--no, WE--carry on. My mom, my brothers and I, and all who knew and love him carry his memory in our hearts. We get through the days, months and years knowing that he was a wonderful, caring and humble man, whose faith in his Lord and Savior never wavered. I am the daughter and wife that I am today because of him.
I love you, Daddy! I'll always be your little girl.