My Father

on Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Father passed away last week after a short illness. He was 93 years old and had lived a long and happy life. I knew, of course, that I would be writing this post but I have wrestled over just how I would write it and what would I say. How does one compress 93 years in one short post? You just can’t. Instead I will just share my thoughts about him.

He was 48 years old when I was born. By then, he was already at the peak of his successful career and had already been a father to two boys and a girl. It had been 8 years since there was a baby in the house. Being the last child and coming so late in his life, I missed out on a lot about my father.

For me, he was never a hands-on type of dad and yet my brothers will tell you that he was very much like that. Their memories are full of family rides on the motorcycle and later the car. They remember him teaching them how to fly kites and the great disastrous day when they let him down and much to his chagrin, failed to hold on to the kites.

For me, he was not an affirming and encouraging dad either. Again my siblings would beg to differ and our family photo albums are full of moments captured of my father posing proudly with his children on the occasion of some academic award or other achievement. I missed out on that too as he seemed too busy with work to be involved much with my school activities and my interests.

My father was a quiet man; a man of few words. It took a long time for me to learn more about him. Most of my childhood, I knew my dad only as the successful office executive who led a conventional but unexciting middle-class life. It was only later that I learnt that early in his life, his work involved him traveling through much of the country at a time when it was certainly adventurous and not particularly safe to do so. Indeed, on one occasion he was robbed and tied to a tree in the jungle.

I never knew the man who was the life of the party, who frequented the lively night-spots or who knew all the smooth dance moves. He surprised me when he danced the cha-cha-cha at my wedding dinner. I never knew.

I believe that life is about choices. My father was not the adventurous, flamboyant playboy because he made a choice and gave it up to be a family man. He chose to be my solid, quiet, constant and dependable dad, who put his family first above all things. He provided me with a stable, happy environment to grow up in.

I know that I am like him in many ways. I am also a quiet person. Like him, I have a passion for books. Through his example, I learnt to be content in any situation. He was scrupulously honest and some of that rubbed off on me. I inherited his passion for food too, perhaps a little too much.

Many people are tempted to claim that their father was the best father in the world. I don’t see how anyone could really know that. When I think of my father and see him with through untinted glasses, I see is a man who could have been much more but who chose being a father and providing for his family as his priority. And he did this to the best of his ability.

I love you dad and I thank you for all the unspoken lessons that I learnt from your life and your example.

30 comments:

Janice Thomson said...

Gosh Calvin what a heartfelt and loving tribute to your Dad. I would like to have known this man of few words who sounds much like you.

Open Grove Claudia said...

I bow to you Squirrelly. With my head to the floor, I appreciate the beauty of your heart and soul.

May your Buddhist father return as Buddha.

Blessings.

daysgoby said...

Can you feel me squeezing your hand?

Because I am.

...Kat said...

a very beautiful and heartfelt tribute.
peace and love to you all.

Claire said...

Beautifully and honestly expressed.
I'm sure your father was very proud of you and you were lucky to have him as well.

patterns of ink said...

Nice post, Calvin.
I'm not sure there are any "greatest dads in the world." I sure fall short of it, but perhaps you have defined true greatness by helping us see that it not a meteor in the sky, but rather a sparkle in a child's eye.

Marja said...

Very beautiful. All fathers do the best they can in their own way just like yours did. Blessings

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

janice,
Thanks. I cherish what I know about my dad but sometimes wish I had learnt more about his earlier years.

claudia,
Thanks. Indeed my dad was very Buddha like in some of his character but he was in fact a Roman Catholic and drew his strength from God.

daysgoby,
Thanks. I don't know about feeling you squeeze my hand but your words surely warms the heart.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

kat,
Thanks...we are at peace.

claire,
Honesty is a trait that I learnt from him.

tom,
I guess that was exactly what I was trying to express. What matters most was that he was my dad and he did the best he could.....that makes him my greatest dad.

marja,
Sadly, more and more fathers fail to carry out their roles in families these days. Our fathers who tried their best should be honored for that.

meggie said...

Sending you hugs in memory of your Father.
May he rest in peace.

geewits said...

What a lovely post. Tuesday was my Dad's "deathaversary." He died 9 years ago. It was strange. When I woke up, it was my first thought. My second thought was "Every baby born that day will celebrate their ninth birthday today." It's not a thought I would normally have so I knew my father put it there. You will miss your Dad for the rest of your life, but over time the sadness will turn to a mellow relaxed acceptance.

Nosjunkie said...

Hey there.
I am sorry that my first post here is on such a very sad subject.
I know how you feel I too have lost my father and I realise that nothing that I say wil make it better.
I can only send strength

MedStudentWife said...

Big hugs

Tai said...

What a clear and thoughtful rememberance, LGS.
My thoughts are with you.

leslie said...

I'm reaching through the computer screen to give you a HUGE HUG all the way from Canada. You know I know how you're feeling this moment as yesterday was the celebration of life for my Dad. You can read my comments about him over at my blog. I think I'm the only one of his 3 children who saw him for who he was, failings and all, and was able to love him anyway. I meant every word of what I said in the eulogy and will remember him with love forever, as will you of your father. God bless you, LGS.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

meggie,
Thanks. I appreciate it.

geewits,
Thanks for sharing. That is a wonderful thought that you got about all the 9 year olds. Now you can remember your dad when you see them and life goes on.

nosjunkie,
Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I am sorry too for your loss.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

msw,
Thanks.

tai,
Thanks.

leslie,
thanks for taking the time to comment here even as you are coping with your own loss. I have commented on your post.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What a lovely and honest tribute to a man who surely loved you very much, but was too old and tired from your siblings to demonstrate it as you would have liked.

My father died when I was in my 20's, and it is only all these many years later, after raising my own children, that I fully appreciate all he did for me because I chose to focus on the emotional support and hugs I didn't get. And I wish so much that I could know him now that I am older than he was when he died.

I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope that you find peace in remembering him always.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

hearts,
I am sorry that you lost your dad when you were so young. I guess there really isn't a good time ever to experience loss but instead we have to be grateful for the times and the memories that we did have and cherish those.

Margaret said...

That was a sweet memoir of your father. I'm the oldest and see my father in a totally different light than either of my two sisters who are younger than I. (We're all six years apart) I saw the adventurous, happy go lucky Dad - and also saw him turn into a busy all of the time, quiet and to himself Dad.

Sometimes I blame myself for that.

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

A beautiful post, LGS. Thank you for allowing us to see your father through your eyes and heart.

Cheryl said...

That was a wonderful and honest tribute to your father. He lived a long life, and I hope he found happiness.

Jocelyn said...

To me, this is the best post you've ever written. I so much appreciate your unflinching examination of what your dad was to you--I learn far more from that than from gushing, thoughtless platitudes.

Josie said...

Aw, Calvin, what a lovely tribue to your Dad. You know, we all had different relationships with our fathers than our siblings did. But our fathers love us all the same, also in different ways. It's true, there are no "greatest Dads in the world", there are just Dads, and each one is special, and each one's loss is felt when they leave this earth. You have my condolences.

Josie

jmb said...

Hi LGS,
I saw on Leslie's blog about your father's death. Even though he was an old man who had lived a very long life it is not easy to lose one's father.

You have paid a very fine tribute to him here, the man he really was as far as you were concerned.
Remember that all our parents did the best they knew how, even if we don't remember them as perfect.

My father died when I was 17, 54 years ago and even at that age I remember him as a flawed individual but in his way he influenced the person I became.

I'm sorry for you loss LGS,
take care
jmb

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

margaret,
Please don't blame yourself. Things change between the oldest kid and the youngest as responsibilities and age increase. Most parents go through a similar learning curve since we only get one go at it. And the world is changing too. Just when you think you have it figured out, it does something unexpected. All we can ever do is our best.

kimber,
Thanks for the kind words. I am happy to share to such a supportive group of blogging friends.

cheryl,
I hoe that too and I think he did. Contentment was always one of his strong points. When you are content, you are happy.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

jocelyn,
Thanks for the kind words. The blunt honesty is something I learnt from my dad. Once a relative came by with some fruits as a gift. However, our fridge was already stock full of fruits and my dad just waved her away with, "No thanks! We already have fruit." It would seem rude, but to him he was being honest and practical. ;)

josie,
Exactly. Each dad is special cause we only get one each (not counting step dads).

jmb,
Thanks. Your words are very encouraging. Also your new picture is very nice.

adelym said...

Wow.. I didn't know my grandpa was a man who had gone to nightspots..hah..never thought that he would..but I guess we are allowed to venture out of being prim and proper sometimes. Thanks uncle for the info. I must say.. I am beginning to enjoy the interesting part of my family. Maybe I should write a blog about dad..ahha..make sure its not after he has left this earth...

my backyard said...

Sorry to learn about your father's passing. I appreciate your honesty about him.

CS said...

I'm so sorry. That's a loving and honest look at your fatehr as a real person. Beautifully done.

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