Today’s my Dad’s 1st Deathday

I’m calling it a Deathday because that’s exactly what it is. If there’s birthday, there’s got to be a deathday, wouldn’t you think so? I don’t like the sound of the “anniversary of death” – anniversary is suppose to connote something that is momentous and memorable. I don’t find the death of a loved one to be an occassion that’s memorable or anything momentous at all.

So, it’ll always be deathday to me. J.K Rowling’s a genius… why didn’t I realise it before?

Anyways, back to the topic – so yeah, today’s my dad’s 1st deathday. Took half day off from work to visit his final resting place at Nirvana Memorial Park all the way in Semenyih with mom. This past year has been really hard on the both of us, especially mom. I woke up this morning to the sound of her cries in the living room as she was looking through the family album. I always thought I’m made of sterner stuff, but the scene of my mom lookng through our family pictures and pausing to whisper some words about dad just…well…just almost wanna make me cry myself.

Which I eventually did just now – as I was sitting in my room in the dark and pondering about the times I had spent with dad. I realised that we’ve never done a single activity together unlike other kids who do. Which probably explains why I always feel envious of the relationships the boys in my church have with their fathers and also my friends and their fathers. Then, as I tried to dig deeper into my memories… I realised that we did do things together…when I was still little…when I was still dependent on my parents to do things for me. I remember the times my dad has carried me in his arms, walked with me through the park, trying to fly kites and trying to teach me how to ride a bicycle until he gave up teaching me altogether no thanks to my constant cries after falling off the bike (till this day, I still have not learnt how to ride a damn bicycle!ūüė¶ )

So yeah, I guessed that we did do a few things together when I was a small kid. But what changed? What happened to that closeness we once had when I was a child? All I can say with shame is that I grew up… I just grew up and that closeness seemed to evaporate even as I grew up. Obviously, he was not able to carry me anymore. And obviously, I would not allow him to kiss me although strangely, I had allowed some of¬†my close friends to do so. And obviously, when I was a kid, I naturally depend on dad or mom to help me do certain things.

But as I got older, that was no longer necessary. I could think for myself. I could be outspoken when I want to. I just couldn’t accept anything my dad said or do. So I talked back, I questioned and I argued my way. To dad, it was a sign of rudeness and in my house and in his eyes, it was utterly unacceptable. He resorted to physical punishments…belting me, caning me and damn near slapped me silly. He called me names whenever I made a mistake. He too, has grown cold towards me.¬†Thus, my resentment and my bitterness for him grew and I learnt to keep¬†those feelings¬†in me¬†and let it fester.

This was how it was like between me and my dad. Even though I became a Christian, this¬†was one part of me that never changed. The two of us treat each other¬†as if enemies in the Cold War. And poor mom have always been caught in the middle of the crossfire. I refused to be seen in public with him. Whenever we went out,¬†I could not wait to leave them and go my way after dining together. Dad has never liked my attitude, and¬†whenever¬†I did something that caused his ire even though I didn’t do anything wrong, he’ll just let it rip at me.

So how was I supposed to love someone like this? How¬†did I even find the emotions and the feelings to¬†write a poem that so accurately declared¬†how much I will probably miss him? I don’t even understand it myself… I don’t think I even understand myself sometimes. In the final couple of weeks before my dad passed on, when he suffered the stroke, it totally jolted me. It totally freaked me out. I was numb with shock. That my dad, even though I was conscious of his long medical history, I never thought he would be struck down by that. I’ve always thought of him as a strong willed person. The stroke had totally destroyed him…rendered him useless and because of that, he has lost his will to live. The fire in his eyes, I saw it with my own,¬† gradually dissipate day by day as he languished in the hospital bed.

It tore me apart inside. I’ve never let anyone in on this. I had to be strong…for mom and… for dad. To show him that I am a Man now and I will take care of mom. So I kept it all with me. I did not share it with anyone but every night, I had cried myself to bed. The day before he passed, I just knew that it was nearly time for him to go… I couldn’t face it…I couldn’t bear to see my dad breathing laboriously and his eyes half closed, glazed over. I instinctively grabbed hold of his hand as he was wheeled into the emergency room…and to my surprise, he softly squeezed back. I…I never wanted to let go then, I wanted to hold him for as long as I can but the doctors got me to stay outside while they treated my dad.

As friends and relatives come and go and prayed for us, I was there by my dad’s side, constantly whispering “I love yous” to him and consoling him, telling him that everything would be fine and that I would take over his place as the head of the house, that I will grow up and be a good person. I told him not to worry to an extend that he continued to cling on to his life, I urged him, with a heavy, reluctant heart… to let go. All this while my friends and relatives saw me composed and strong…they never knew what it was like inside me at that time. I had cried out to God to spare my dad and give us a chance to start afresh. There were still so many things that I have not yet done with my dad which I now regret never doing.

My final words to him that night as he passed on…”Pa, I’m sorry, I love you…I love you always.” Before exhaling his last breath, I felt him grip my hand hard…and then…he…was gone.

He was gone. Just like that. A heavy burden upon his shoulder and my shoulders just seemed to disappear. My heart, despite the harrowing situation, suddenly felt lighter and I felt strangely glad. I walked out of the room and just cried.

I just cried.

Pa, I’m not going to ever let you down. I love you, always.


  1. i have a good relationship with my dad; it’s my mother that i have a similar relationship like you had with your dad. i guess nobody can help you overcome those feelings of regret except god, but you can make things right when you have a son or daughter of your own by learning from the mistakes the both of you have made.

    this post is making me feel so weepy. in a good way la.

  2. This post reminded me the day my dad flew off to Jakarta and came back wraped up in a coffin three days later as a cargo. I regretted very much till this very day for ignoring my dad when he gave me a list of things to do before he left to the airport. I can still visualize his sad face full of dissapointment towards my rude behaviour as he left our home. That was the last day I saw him a life. I share the same regrettness as you do Philipp, and I do understand how you feel. I was there before……lost my dad at the age of 17.

  3. Dearest Philip, you know I keep you in my thoughts always, but especially now during this time of reflection.

    I have some family “Deathdays” coming up as well, one of which is my grandmother’s. I feel like there will be a similar reaction from my mother (probably from me as well) as there was from yours for your father. I’m trying to decide how to handle that day when it comes; leaning on family and friends is the best I can come up with so far. Perhaps a celebration of the life she lived rather than mourning the date of her death.

    You know how to get in touch, and I’m here for you, but more importantly, so is your mother. Be there for each other.

  4. kenneth

    hi ..
    reading your blog remind me how sad is the feeling when someone we thought we didn’t care less pass away, i guess you are much more lucky then i’m , my dad pass away so sudden no one expect from the family ..i just couldn’t imagine receive a call in the morning and he just left , well time goes next month is the one year anniversary , we got to be strong to take care of our mom..this just make me cherish more on family value

    cheers

  5. Dear Kenneth,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your comments. I appreciate it and I couldn’t tell you how much I know what you’re going through. I’m sorry to hear about your dad’s sudden passing and hope that you and your family are holding up well. It’s times like this when the need for the family to rally together and form a tighter bond with one another. Forget about all the unhappy things, just appreciate and love your family, especially your mom more.

    All the best to you Kenneth!




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