Our good-byes began early yesterday when family members whom we have met over the last couple of weeks began arriving at the house for one last day of swapping stories, parting gifts, and hugs.
I burned the last of the CD's that I was leaving of the pictures I had taken over the course of our visit.
I wrote out our address a few dozen times for those aunts and cousins who asked.
I took a few more photos and shot some video for my dad on his Canon DV-cam. Which reminds me, I should look up the drivers to download while I'm here in the airport.
I gave my folding multi-tool / knife to my step-brother. It was worth about $80 USD when I bought it 10 years ago, thinking I was going to ride my bicycle around the world. It's a Gerber made knife - their first generation SOG Para-tool, made to mil-spec. The original hype was that you could take a tank apart with it - has pliers and screw-drivers, etc on it. I think it's been superseded several times over since then, but it's still a solid tool. I figured it would be better used by him than by airline security if they came up with an excuse to confiscate it.
I also ran out of ink on our last photo printer cartridge. The original intention had been to bring the printer to the reunions to make photos for those attendees from overseas who would otherwise not get a chance to share in any photos that I was able to get at the reunions. I printed a schwak of those, but also a bunch more for the old folks who didn't have cameras or the means to get photos from their children.
There was also a sing-along where they asked me to sing "O Canada" and share a few thoughts from our visit here. I managed to get both out without choking up too badly.
In being here, I discovered how much those of us who are overseas owe to our relatives who stayed home. In many cases they supported our parents as they were growing up - paying for their education or even "adopting them" while our grandparents struggled to make ends meet. It was these uncles and aunties and cousins who looked after some of us while our parents came to Canada or the U.S. alone, working at low-paying service jobs, until they could earn citizenship and then sponsor the us to come.
It is this long tradition of family helping family that I saw over and over - and almost always, without any explicit requirement for remuneration. They did it simply because it would move the entire family forward in some way.
It is with these thoughts in mind that I left my "hometown" - and the family there - late last night, on an air-conditioned bus to Manila. And with each mile that passed, so did a tear of gratitude.