Farewell, fa­ther

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - HEART & SOUL - By WENDELLYN LOH

MY fa­ther knew his time had come. He had asked me to visit him more often – once a week to have break­fast with him. He ex­pressed his wish to see his grand­kids. They often played Chi­nese chess and Scrabble with him and he won on most oc­ca­sions. My fa­ther liked to show off his lit­tle magic tricks like mak­ing a 20 sen coin dis­ap­pear and en­joyed watch­ing his grand­kids up to their play­ful and mis­chievi­ous an­tics.

He also seemed to be more oblig­ing when it came to tak­ing fam­ily photos, when in the past he would ex­press his ir­ri­ta­tion for such mat­ters. He also up­dated his di­ary more fre­quently, the last en­try on June 22, eight days be­fore he passed away.

I still re­mem­ber the last face- to­face con­ver­sa­tion we had in the car be­fore I dropped him home after cel­e­brat­ing Fa­ther’s Day. “I will take care of my­self, don’t worry”, he usu­ally said this to all of us chil­dren.

He didn’t want to bur­den us or have us worry about him. He was an in­de­pen­dent and self- re­liant man.

On that day, we had planned to have a fam­ily gather­ing in a home­s­tay in Bangsar. My sis­ter and fam­ily from Sin­ga­pore were on their way back. My fa­ther was get­ting ready to leave for my house that morn­ing – his watch was al­ready on his wrist, hair neatly combed.

While en­joy­ing his bowl of oats with cof­fee an con­cen­trat­ing on his favourite chi­nese daily Sin Chew Jit Poh, he sud­denly went into the pres­ence of God. Just like that. With­out any fuss. He left while do­ing the things he nor­mally en­joyed every morn­ing, savour­ing his break­fast. We thank God he de­cided not to go to his usual ko­pi­tiam. He may have just col­lapsed on the street with­out any loved ones around.

At that time, I was wait­ing for a friend to view a con­do­minium in Petaling Jaya. My hands trem­bled after re­ceiv­ing a call from my eld- est sis­ter say­ing my fa­ther had col­lapsed. I re­mem­ber ask­ing her “Do you think he’s gone?” and she said “I think so” even though she was still try­ing very hard to re­sus­ci­tate him.

In my heart, I knew my beloved fa­ther was gone. In the few min­utes that fol­lowed, which seemed like an eter­nity, I felt as though time had come to a stand­still.

A se­ries of thoughts went through my mind... about the time when I last saw my fa­ther, the last words that were ex­changed, the last meal we had to­gether and the very last hug we gave each other.

In Jan­uary last year my mother passed away. The loss of both par­ents within a short span of time was hard to bear. I felt as if a heavy stone had landed on my heart.

The days that fol­lowed after my fa­ther’s fu­neral were most dif­fcult. The re­al­i­sa­tion of not be­ing able to see mum and dad or talk to them any­more sud­denly be­gan to sink in. I did not re­mem­ber feel­ing this way when my mother passed away. Yes, I was sad but I guess there was still my fa­ther’s well­be­ing I had to take care of then.

Hav­ing lost his wife of 57 years, my fa­ther car­ried on, and en­joyed the sim­ple things in life – a bowl of curry mee, bak kut teh, a cup of freshly brewed cof­fee, the daily news­pa­pers, watch­ing the news on tele­vi­sion, read­ing an ar­ti­cle and high­light­ing in­ter­est­ing points or use­ful phrases ( he was a jour­nal­ist and an editor).

He did not ask for or ex­pect any­thing in re­turn. He gave thanks for every new day of life. Just a few days be­fore he pas d on, my el­dest sis­ter took him r a meal Nando’s. He w in his last day

Take care of sure you have rest. Don’t ove Al­ways walk a traf­fic when o street. Don’t ta mo­bile phone ing. Make sure are al­ways in si going out. Don’t me, I can han­dle it. I know what to do. I know when to rest when I need to. These were some of the pieces of ad­vice my fa­ther would say to all his four daugth­ers.

He was a man of few words but he could give an ex­cel­lent speech on any oc­ca­sion, be it at a wed­ding din­ner, an open­ing cer­e­mony, a char­ity event or at a sim­ple gather­ing at his Chung Ling Old Boys’ As­so­ci­a­tion. His friends re­spected him and re­garded him as a big brother and men­tor. A sim­ple man. A sim­ple life. Dad a l missed

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