The reason why I am able to love Kristo the way I do is….I had a model. I have loads of memories of mom and dad spending time with me, specially when we were still in Hong Kong (where mom and dad met and where I was born). I was so sure growing up that mom and dad loved us to bits. I also have an awesome picture of romantic love because I saw how much dad loved mom..and how much mom loved dad. I will forever be grateful for the times they were sooo sweet — even when they were in their 50’s and 60’s! I’m also thankful for the many times dad prepared mom’s breakfast in bed…and for stopping at the flower shop to get mom a beautiful bouquet (almost every week) – even when there was no special occassion. Actually, for dad, it seemed as if every single day spent with mom in his life was a special occassion! Their love story is one to tell…I shall dedicate one whole blog for their story soon!
Meanwhile…here’s a trip down memory lane…honoring dad for being the amazing man he is to me, my mom and everyone who knows him! 🙂
One of my favorite bed time stories was mom and dad’s love story. One of my favorite parts was when dad went to Manila, before they got married, to meet mom’s 5 kids from her first marriage. When dad saw how well behaved her kids were and how her family was, when he was back in Hong Kong, he asked her to marry him! Soon after, they brought my brothers and sisters to Hong Kong and then they had me! I am a witness to how my dad treated all of my brothers and sisters, as if they were his own! From being a bachelor, living alone most of his life, to suddenly having this huge fun family! I also saw how my brothers and sisters loved dad. He really was a good man.
One thing I think that kept mom and dad’s relationship so much fun to see — was how much of a teaser dad was! You see, mom is such a Nora Aunor fan (for those who have no idea who Nora is, she’s the Philippines’ SuperStar). We all knew that saying something bad about Nora meant bad news! Dad found this adorable — so, he would ALWAYS tease her about Nora. His most famous teasing line was (whenever mom would watch Nora on TV) : ‘where’s Nora? I can’t see her!’ (implying how short she was). Mom would get seriously upset! That was so much fun!!! Dad was also the king of pranks! When I was old enough to pull a prank, I was dad’s partner in crime! So if you know me as a teaser or a prankster, now you know why!!!
I also remember how mom threw a surprise birthday celebration for dad every year. When dad would come home from work, mom would have a cake ready — and every single year — Dad would always seem surprised! We knew when to expect him home as well `coz as he’d commute home from work, he’d always find a pay phone to call us and tell us that he’d be home in half an hour. He did that EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Mom would watch the time so that after 25 minutes, she’d give me and brother the go signal to go to the balcony and watch dad get off the bus. Every single time, he would look up (we were on the 13th floor) and wave to us! Then my brother and i would yell “Dad’s home!” then we’d open the door to our flat and run to the elevator, so that we were there when the elevator door opened!
As dad puts down his brief case, he would then take off his tie, then he’d put it on me. Then his coat, and he’d put that on me too! Then his shoes, and I’d slip into it as fast as I can. Then I’d walk around the house in Dad’s office clothes and his briefcase! I still remember how his coat smells like…it’s as if I could smell it now as I write this blog. I dunno, dad’s got that distinct smell. I have no idea how to describe it, but it was surely special to me. It was a smell that brought comfort.
Dad was a very busy man. He’d leave the house early every morning and would work til 6 I think. Mondays to Fridays, sometimes Saturdays too. But — he’d ALWAYS make time every week to spend time with us. I have awesome memories of him sitting on the floor getting into whatever I was playing, then as we got older, we moved on to board games. Monopoly was a huge fave. He’d ALWAYS win! Then if we wanted just daddy-owie bonding, it would be over a game or two of backgammon. If it was a nice sun shiny day, he’d take us to the park or we’d go to Lan Tao island. Yes, Lan Tao, where the new Hong Kong airport is. Guys, that used to be this island where we’d hike and sometimes swim – but most importantly, it had those traditional chinese family restos by the beach with the meanest sweet and sour – EVER!!!
Dad was born in London. His mom was Argentinian and his dad was a Scott. At a very young age, grandma and grandpa put him in a boarding school. They only went to visit him during weekends. So from the start, dad had to be very independent. He wanted to take up a course in agriculture but his dad wanted him to take up aeronautics. Even if he didn’t really like the course he took up, he graduated top of his class at Glasgow University in Scotland. After graduation, he worked for the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK. Then he went to Hong Kong to work for Cathay Pacific. He worked his way up – and being the genius that he is, he was the Airline’s airplane buyer guy! That meant he’d go to Boeing in Seattle and look at all their new planes, and he’d decide what airplane to buy every now and then. Now isn’t that such a cool job?? So there would be times when he’d take us on those business trips and we’d fly back to Hong Kong on the new plane he just bought. Just the pilots, 2 flight attendants, dad, mom, my brother and I! He was also the guy responsible for computing how much gasoline each plane needed per flight. My mom said that dad was so good at his job that he’s got an awesome reputation — never did a plane have any problem with gasoline! Because dad worked for Cathay, he had ‘mickey mouse’ tickets every year — that was what he called those tickets since they were free! So every summer, when we’d go back to Hong Kong during summer break, he would have a trip all planned out for us! Awesome memories of going to Disneyland in California and France, Universal Studios, Eiffel Tower in France, trips to the beaches of Hawaii, the castles in Scotland and just so much more. I wish I were a bit older though, so I would have appreciated those trips more, but hey, I ain’t complainin!
I will always remember dad reading. He was a voracious reader. He would always tell us about the book he had just read. He loved learning. He loved teaching. During his last few years, he spent a lot of time in front of his computer, writing an aviation book. He was to author a couple of modules for a distance learning program for a university in Australia. He never got to finish the project, but his co-author said that dad was coming with a new theory on how planes would lift…
I can go on and on and on about my dad and this blog would never end… But I guess by now you get the picture of who Donald Ian Burns is. A great man. An awesome dad. The man who loved my mom unconditionally.
A few days after I gave birth to Kristo, dad was rushed to the hospital. Mom and I were in Seattle, dad was here in Manila. They told us it was just an ear infection, I refused to believe that’s all it was. Dad would NEVER go to the doctors just for that. Not long after, my brothers and sister told us the truth, it was brain cancer. Mom rushed back home as soon as she could. Kristo and I followed a couple of days later. He was in the hospital for quite a while. There was this one time when he woke up in the middle of the night and he said “co-pilot, are u ready to land this plane?” Clearly he was talking to me coz he was looking straight at me. So i played along. I said “yes sir, I am” and together, we landed a plane. Why that scene happened I have no idea, but I am honored to have landed a plane with my dad..even if we were in a hospital room.
The night dad died, I was in Bangkok. My flight back to Manila was at 9am, he passed on at 2am. Mom rarely left dad’s side. But that minute dad died, she went to the restroom. Mom said before dad went to sleep that night, he told her how much he loves her and that he would wait for her in heaven. I’m sure that meant a lot to mom.
If I could picture dad up in heaven, I’m sure it would look like this… Knowing dad, he’d never stop reading.. He’d never stop learning and well, I’m pretty sure he’d pull a few pranks here and there! 🙂
I miss you dad. I miss our tight bear hugs. I miss taking off my flip flops so i could step on your feet and walk around the house with you! I miss dancing with you! I miss your smell. I miss spending forever in the grocery with you. And yes, I compute for everything I buy at the supermarket, just like you — the only difference is, I use a calculator!!! I love you daddy, I’m sure you know that. I will always be your little girl…and you will always be my first love…and the most amazing man in my life, ever.