Today is my dad’s birthday. He passed away four years, three months and twenty-two days ago and though the bed where he stayed for almost three years when he was sick has been disassembled, gathering dust in one of the rooms in the house; though almost all his clothes have been folded, packed and donated; though his drawers have all been emptied, there are still traces of him in the house.
His rattan chair, where he used to watch boxing matches, his favorite cop shows and the evening news, still occupy a space in the cluttered living room. My mom has turned it into a catch-all for her bags and unfinished craft projects and refuses to give it away. The little calendar booklet my mom found in one of his drawers with his few scribblings on how his day unfolded or which one of us stayed at home because we were sick, is now kept in one of my drawers. On the way to the garage, on an old plywood, there are his handwritten notes–phone numbers for LPG suppliers, hardware stores, a tile shop and other contacts for things needed (or needed fixing) around the house.
Aside from being Mr. Fix-It, he was a good cook. He often referred to this recipe book, obviously worn with use and food spills, which used to belong to his mother. Though it’s only held together by a thread or two and is missing a number of pages, it is still there in the kitchen.
My mom refers to it every now and then whenever she needs to do any of dad’s signature dishes. One of which is mechado (Philippine beef stew). Today I thought I would try, for the first time, to recreate it. Though he didn’t strictly follow the recipe and added some ingredients of his own, I still needed a guide. When I turn to the page with the recipe of mechado, it’s gone. I know I can always look for this recipe book in a bookstore or refer to an online recipe and tweak it until I get to my dad’s mechado, but a part of me feels I should have paid more attention.