My Dad passed away two weeks ago. He was 91.
(I had written a blog post about my Dad on May 29th this year - "My Dad makes me wanna jump off roofs". Another related one was on Feb 13th - "Maybe that's why I'm like this"
You can read back if you're interested. No, you really should read back. I can be quite funny sometimes)
My Dad was friend-to-all-enemy-to-none. Our present Chief Minister (Dato' Khalid Ibrahim) used to live next door to my parents many, many years ago. His now-grown up daughters visited Dad when he was hospitalized in the latter weeks of his life. His wife came to the house during the wake. The doctor at the clinic nearby, many neighbours and even the barber down the road from where Dad lived (who had made a few house calls to give Dad a haircut) sent condolences. One of the staff who worked under him (bear in mind Dad had been retired for almost THIRTY FIVE years!) also turned up. This staff was 77! Dad had outlived most of his other colleagues.
My Dad in his office (Survey Department)
My Dad married my Mum in an arranged-marriage. He was about 30 and Mum, 16. That's 14 years difference!
There was frequent banter between them.
Dad: All the girls in church are looking at me. That's cos I look like Gregory Peck!
Mum: More like Gregory's Back lah.
At other times:
Dad: Such a handsome man like me - like Shashi Kapoor *
Mum: Hah! more like "chenambe kapur" (Tamil word for whitewash)
*a famous Hindustani actor
But dad really was handsome.
Way back in those days, the father is the bread-winner, the mother full-time housewife. Which meant raising the children was very much left to mum (and there are six of us).
Dad and Mum with their six children. That's me right in front, on the right!
Mum was often the disciplinarian, so rebuking was usually by her. I remember one morning I was unwilling to put the laundry out to dry, choosing instead to dilly-dally and then grumble that I had to, after Mum had ticked me off. That came with a warning that Dad was gonna hear about it. And that evening he did hear of it. And I got it good. With a broom handle.
Yah, that one.
On my bum-bum.
Boy, because Dad rarely ever spanked any of us, that was painful, and I'm not talking physically only. It went straight to the heart. It only took one word from my Mum, and Dad would be behind her to reinforce. And the impression it left on me was how united my parents were. It only served to make me feel even more secure.
My Dad was always the life of our family parties.
He loved singing ridiculous songs and his younger brothers would back him up...until one by one each was singing fill-in-the-forgotten lines as the years went by. I don't know which was funnier. The silly songs or the muffled-words-to-replace-forgotten-parts songs! And sometimes it got worse when an uncle decided to do some dance steps, too! G-o-o-d h-e-a-v-e-n-s.
He often played Christmas songs any time of the year. At his wake, someone had played really slowwww hymns and an aunt (his sister) remarked, "your dad would have said, Change the CD!"
Which was true. He loved Boney M's "By the Rivers of Babylon"!!
The other day, my Mum wore a really outdated (it looked a good 50 years old) saree to a family gathering. That took me by surprise as, over the years she has been giving away many of her sarees and you'd have thought this one would have been, too. When I queried about it, my eldest sister said "sentimental value! - Dad gave her that saree..."
How sweet is that?
I did not feel there was anything to grieve over at his funeral, or even now. There really is only rejoicing cos I know he is not having to suffer anymore. And he has lived a full life. And he was loved and respected by many. And I know where he is.
My Dad was always punctual. And I think that's why I am, too. In fact, he was often very early for any function. If he had come to pick me up from school, I could see him from my classroom, sometimes a whole period before school ended! It always made me feel assured and protected that I could count on my Dad being there if I was going to meet him.
Yesterday I was anxious about going to a gig my son's band was playing at. And I was hurrying my husband who shrugged it off, as he felt they were bound to start later than expected. And we arrived in time.for.their.LAST.song. We had missed all 5 of their earlier songs and their awesome 'opening' act. I was so mad with my husband!
Thinking back now, I think I was so mad because:
- I want to attend our children's performances.
- I hate hate hate being late because I was never raised that way.
- I hate it more when someone else has made me late.
And I think I was so mad because
I miss my Dad.
And I'm crying buckets writing this post.
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