Many years ago, my gran on Dad's side took him to a fortune teller. The fortune teller said that Dad would die at the ripe old age of 70. Dad's 71 and as far as I know, even in his wheel chair, his mental sharpness and lucidity can still start or stop an argument over political issues. I never knew gran. She died when Dad was quite young. But I wished she was alive for me to tell her that that fortune teller was a complete fake.
Dad often reminisce about the days he sees his mother waiting faithfully by the window till wee hours of the morning for gramps to come home from work or other extra curricular activities. He would also remember, with a slight hint of anger, how gramps remarried about 6 months after his mother died.
He also talked about the affections gramps showered on his elder sister LC. The favoritism right up to gramp's death was quite obvious even to us, grandchildren.
I think, in that traditional Peranakan household, Dad never quite got the fatherly love he deserved. However, I can bear testimony to the fact that Dad was never anything like his father. In my entire life, Dad was the best father ever. I was never in want for anything. He stood by me under every circumstance.
Even when I was going through a divorce and Dad, in his utter disappointment, cut me off, I could see the pain I had put him through. It took me almost 11 years to realize that he wasn't disappointed with my decision for a divorce. Rather, he was so disappointed because with that special father-daughter bond we had, entrenched by his experience of not having a communicative relationship with his own father, I never thought to share my marital problems with the one man who could have protected me.
Till today I am so grateful that Dad taught me the one thing money couldn't buy - to stand up for what is right. His incarceration by the establishment for his political views was a lesson to me about not allowing myself to be moulded by the views of others. That's why I am extremely honest with my opinions at work even in the presence of my bosses. His lucidity in spite of being in a wheelchair taught me that there are no limitations under any circumstance. That's why I am proud of my skills and passion at work in spite of not being actuary-trained in a company full of talented actuaries.
Most importantly, Dad is an epitome of the adage "being true to yourself". He didn't have a childhood filled with warm kisses and nurturing hugs from his father. From his school days through to his graduation at the university, through his marriage and having kids, Dad didn't have his father pat him on his back or hold his hand at every milestone. And yet there is no semblance of bitterness in his heart. He never used his past as an excuse to be a lousy father. In fact, he used his past as an excuse to give me more warm kisses and nurturing hugs.
Dad is my hero. Because of him, I became a better person, a better spouse and a better parent. I don't want to just thank him for being my Dad on Father's Day. I want to thank him everyday.