The First Man In My Life

He was there when I emerged into the world for the very first time.
He stood by my mother in tears and held her hand in desperation and anger when they realised their firstborn had severe birth defects.
He bullied the nurses in the hospital when they were late with my feeding bottle.
He would leave work every day at 4:00pm on the dot to take his little girl to the beach.
He taught me how to pet dogs and love cats.
He showed me how to fold a viable paper plane  and construct stable Lego towers.
He reminded me every day that I was supposed to be a good girl, not a tomboy or playground bully.
He insisted that I coloured within the lines and painted as little abstract as possible.
Average or mediocre was not acceptable.

daddy bear
My Papa Bear in Thailand©MTHerzog

Wobbly or fragile did not exist in our house.
He introduced me to a camera.
We collected stones and music together.
He took the training wheels off my bike.
He made sure I knew how to handle a screwdriver, a hammer, a wrench, and car jacks.
I wasn’t allowed to drive after finishing driving school until I passed his test.
Curiosity for technology and understanding of functionality was essential in tools, machines and management.
Strange and new food was never a problem.
Being there for others was at the core of his being.

With Papa Bear in Kenya©MTHerzog

He was someone else’s big brother.
He was my mother’s life partner, husband and friend for 50 years.
He had no clue how to navigate my teenage years, but what parent does…
He stood outside the operating room when I gave birth and photographed the first moment I held my baby.
He slept on the floor in the nursery beside the crib for three weeks because he didn’t trust the cat with the baby.
He loved sushi, pizza and fresh corn.
He taught me the meaning of faith and the strength of prayer.
He insisted on good, sturdy luggage.
I was never allowed to chase away birds, stray cats or dogs.
He worried across two continents when I had to install the washing machine and dishwasher on my own.
He would have been 81 today.

Papa Bear in India©MTHerzog

Our was far from being the perfect father-daughter relationship, and we had more than our fair share of difficult moments, but he was my first anchor. Showing emotion was never his strength, nor was opening up to talk, but he was always there for me. When he could no longer walk or talk, he made sure he found a way to communicate.
Happy birthday Daddy.



  1. Hi Maritess

    Allow me to share your feelings of happiness and sadness in remembering the birthday of your daddy… my brother. I still feel bitter, remorseful, regretful for not being with him when he passed on. The only little consolation i have is the lingering thought that I was able to hold his hand nearing the end, when I know he was still aware that I was there beside him.

    Happy Birthday dear brother.. not a day passes without a prayer that may you rest in the arms of our Lord forever.

    Take care Maritess.. and a big hug 🤗 ninang

    Sent from my iPhone


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