My mom likes to watch Korean soap operas. Every morning when I wake up, which is usually just before lunch, I would see her sitting in front of the television watching the drama unfold in the Arirang cable channel while reading the subtitles.

Sometimes, I would sit down beside her and watch the latest episode when my near-sighted eyes aren’t too tired to read the (presumably inaccurate) English translations. But, most of the time, I would just absently watch the scenes as I eat a hurried brunch.

I don’t like soap operas because they show nothing more than exaggerated emotions. Besides, I remember when we were young, my father had cautioned us against watching these overly-dramatic episodes which depicted tragedy and suffering as though it was the only way to live life. Certainly, we didn’t want to imbibe all that negative energy.

Still, my mom would say that this Korean soap is different from local soap operas. For one, the plot is a bit more realistic and less dramatic. And the story actually makes sense.

***

One particular episode stuck to my memory.

But, first, a little background. A renowned doctor, the patriarch in the story was very stern with his family. He was a man of iron will, few words, and almost no emotion. Obedience was the unbreakable rule for his wife and his daughters, except the eldest who, much like him, believed in doing things her own way.

Until the wife discovered about her husband’s one-time affair with another woman, an incident that made the patriarch’s pedestal crumble.

Humbled, the man asked pardon and was forgiven. But no sooner had their family life started to normalize when he had to deal with another blow – the noted doctor was diagnosed with an acute stomach cancer.

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One scene showed the once strong father lying on the hospital bed talking with his rebellious eldest daughter. As thoughts of his mortality softened his iron heart, the father told her daughter that he understood her. Although, he knew that it was against his daughter’s will to be a doctor like him, the father told his daughter that he was thankful that she obeyed him. He was proud of her, he said. After so many years spent for reprimands, the father finally told his daughter that he loved her.

With tears slowly coursing down her cheeks, the daughter asked, “Why didn’t you tell me then?”

***

Time waits for no one. So does death.

How many times have we put off saying the words we ought to say, thinking that we could save them for later?

We think that we always have enough time and there would always be another day. We spend our lives postponing and delaying things blindly invoking this belief. Until the next thing we know, our time is up, and no amount of regret can pull back the hours that had passed.

Then, we realize there were still so many things we wanted to do and so many words we wanted to say, if only we had more time.

But the truth is, we will never have enough time and the people around us would soon pass away. And there’s no sense taking them for granted.

***

I guess I could say that was one television drama I needed to watch. Certainly, it was something worth watching more than Alicia or Betty La Fea.

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By the way, the soap opera’s title is “Farewell.”

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