This is a portrait of my dad, drawn by my aunty, his sister, in 1965. Dad would have been about 17.
Today marks two years since my dad’s passing.
I remember it well. I was at work, heavily pregnant with the twins and I listened to a voicemail left on my phone by my aunty who lives in America. I dropped the phone and burst into tears.
Of course, there was no way I could make a 36 hour flight to make it to the funeral in my condition. Worst of all was that dad didn’t even know I was pregnant.
He was a very odd man, you see…. I am not quite sure how to describe him. I think he wasn’t made to be in this world, he was always searching for something, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on…as such, he never found it and was viewed as a dreamer and a planner but never a doer.
I don’t think he ever quite grew into an adult, I don’t think he wanted to face the harsh realities and responsibilities of this world.
He enjoyed very much hanging out with his students and they all loved and respected him very much. He could relate to them on a level no other adult could. And this is why I think he was special. And a big kid. He could also relate to people who had a few marbles missing, talking to him they would think no one could quite understand them like he did.
Growing up, he wasn’t around much. When he did give me his attention I did feel like the most special little girl in the world but it wasn’t often.
In his younger years, dad was (to use a Zoolander term) “an international male model”. He travelled, he was the centre of attention, the social life was booming. I think he would have really enjoyed that.
Then he got married, all was still great and then four years later I came along. That is probably when he changed and realised he could not possibly be an adult and be responsible for another human being. I am sure he wanted to but he just could not.
Dad was very intellectual, always reading things and having “discussions”. Well, he was a teacher after all. Well actually he was educated as a mechanical engineer and he did always try to fix the old Taurus in the back yard but it never quite worked out.
He wanted to play the guitar but never quite got the hang of it so he collected them instead.
He was a wonderful artist. I remember as a little girl, he would draw beautiful horses. And they would always be standing in a cabbage patch. I asked him why that was and his reply was that he didn’t know how to draw hooves.
I only saw dad once in the twenty years before he died. He did meet Madison and I am very glad of that. Sometimes we would be in close contact sometimes he would get it in his head that we shouldn’t be in contact, I don’t know…. Regardless, each year I would send him school photos of the kids and a CD with photos of the year past. At first, I would also include a letter but since he never replied these last few years, I stopped the letter and just sent the CD and the photos.
Maybe we didn’t need to communicate, I don’t know. I do know that he got my mail and appreciated the photos because when I went to visit my step mother last year, the kids’ photos were everywhere.
That was also when I got to see my baby brother after 20 years, here we are:
My brother is always very serious and I think I only made him smile like three times and laugh once while I was there.
And dad’s puppy, Bumbar (bumble bee). The interesting thing about Bumbar is that dad raised him with absolutely no discipline whatsoever. He wanted him to be “free” to be who he was without anyone interfering. I love that dog so much and if I knew how to bring him over and had the funds, I would do it in a flash.
I am grateful for my dad, I know that there is a reason I chose him to be my dad. Sure, he was odd but so are a lot of people. Perhaps he was born before his time and the world just didn’t understand him enough to help him.
He died from complications after a routine operation. No one knows what the “complications” were and those who do are not talking. He was only two months short of his 64th birthday.
I hope he has found peace and purpose at last.
Volim te, tata.
(30th January 1948 – 22nd December 2011)