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! 😦 )
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.