A general who figured prominently in the tanks that stopped Marcos at EDSA. Growing old mellows the heart even of warriors.
eastwind journals – May 12, 2021 (archives tr112)
By Bernie V. Lopez, email@example.com
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At the dinner table, everyone was silent.
LIZ – (5 years old, the youngest) – Hey, dad. When are we going to the beach?
TONY – (19 years old, the eldest) – You ask permission before you speak, young lady.
LIZ – Did you hear that, dad? He wants me to ask permission before I speak to you. Ridiculous.
TONY – You address him as ‘father’.
LIZ – Dad sounds better. Hey, dad, when do we go to the beach? You promised.
GENERAL – Did I? I don’t remember.
LIZ – That’s why I am reminding you.
TONY – Liz, don’t be insolent.
LIZ – Insolent? I’m just reminding him.
GENERAL – Let it go, Tony. Okay, Liz, when do you want to go to the beach?
TONY – You spoiled brat.
LIZ – Soonest, dad. This weekend is fine.
SARAH (16 years old, the second) – I’m busy.
LIZ – You’re just a kill-joy.
SARAH – Yeah. So what?
GENERAL – Okay. Stop it. We go to the beach this weekend.
Liz jumps with joy, and when she sees the sour face of Sarah, she goes up to her and kisses her.
LIZ – Don’t get mad, Sarah. It’s gonna be okay. I will treat you to a hotdog. And you can use my sunblock so you don’t get dark.
TONY – Hey, hey. Get back to your seat. We are eating dinner.
LIZ – (Giving a low curtsy, before sitting down.) Yes, colonel.
TONY – Dad, why do you permit this kid to take over the dinner table.
SARAH – I miss the days of quiet dinners.
LIZ – I am not taking over. I’m just sick of being in a barracks. Sorry, dad. Why don’t you loosen up, Sarah Jane and Anthony James.
SARAH – Hold your tongue, you imp.
GENERAL – Give her elbow room, Sarah. She’s the youngest. (Liz sticks out her tongue at Sarah.)
TONY – Did you give us elbow room when we were her age?
LIZ – That’s your fault. Because you were afraid of him. For me, dad is not a general. He’s a dad. For you, he is still a general.
GENERAL – Stop it, Liz. None of this talk.
LIZ – Hey, dad. Come to think of it. How come you treated them like soldiers?
GENERAL – I was younger then, Liz. When you grow old, you mellow.
LIZ – Mellow yellow, huh? Now look at them. You can’t loosen them up anymore, dad. They are as stiff as a monkey wrench.
GENERAL – Yes you can, Liz. That’s your assignment. Loosen them up, including me.
LIZ – Okay, okay, hitting a glass with a fork. Listen up, guys. The general has spoken. No more general. Just a dad.
TONY – What do you mean I am stiff?
LIZ – How come you never talk about your girlfriend?
TONY – Shut up.
Sarah giggles. The general tries to hide a smile.
LIZ – I think Jessica is nice. Dad, you should meet her. Tony, bring her to dinner.
TONY – May I, dad?
LIZ – There you go, bro. Of course you can bring her. Right, dad?
GENERAL – Yes, I want to meet her, Tony.
SARAH – (Laughing.) He never asked because he thought you would say ‘no’.
LIZ – You should thank me.
TONY – Thanks, little sis.
LIZ – Anytime, big bro.
SARAH – No more barracks, little sis, right?
LIZ – You heard it, dad. You gotta listen to us from now on. Just relax.
SARAH – One more thing, dad. We can answer a cellphone text during dinner. Tony, Jessica would like that.
GENERAL – Quick answer only, no long texting.
LIZ – And we talk anytime we want.
GENERAL – And you can interrupt each other. We can have a noisy dinner, okay?
The three children stand up and give their dad a give-me-five.
LIZ – Dad, I love you. I can’t stand the general. I want my dad.
GENERAL – I love you to Liz, as much as your brother and sister.
LIZ – Can I say a prayer?
TONY – Go ahead, little sis.
LIZ – Everybody, let’s hold hands. Close your eyes. Follow after me. (They follow.) Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing our family back together after so many years. From now on, when we say grace before dinner, we offer you our family.
GENERAL – And thank you for a spoiled-brat daughter who has changed our lives. Amen.
LIZ – Spoiled brat, you say? From now on, I will be the quiet one.
SARAH – I don’t think so.
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