On Saturday afternoon, I got the call I’d been dreading. It was my older sister, Flexnib, calling from Perth to let me know that our mum had rung to say that the time was close, and that she [my sister] was on her way to my parents’ house.
Despite the fact that it was in the middle of the day, I had been dozing – very unusual for me, I’m not a napper – and having received the call, I stayed right where I was. In fact, I scrunched myself into a ball and burrowed myself under the quilt. And I waited.
A short time later, a text message arrived. My father was gone.
First thoughts: I was glad I had gone to Perth when I did, and spent that week with my folks, and got to say goodbye to my dad – as hard as it had been; how was my mother coping? – I hoped she was alright; what about my siblings? And although I had been expecting this day for a while, I was struck by how sad I felt. At the same time, I was relieved that my dad was no longer suffering – because he had been – and my mum, too, caring for him, watching his decline, all this time. My tall, strong father reduced to a shell of himself. I won’t remember him that way.
I’ll remember him as someone who brought his family to Australia to have a better life than the one offered by Malaysia. (Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the country of my birth, but life was difficult there.) I’ll remember him as the dad who was quiet and sometimes moody – I suppose it’s inevitable sometimes, especially when you’ve got five occasionally-rambunctious kids running around the house -, but also as a man who was devoted to his wife. I’ll remember my dad as someone who loved music, able to play the guitar and the harmonica by ear; how he loved Elvis; my dad was also a member of a barbershop [singers] group; the time he bought my siblings and I our first cassette tapes and how we listened to them over and over and over and over again. I will always remember my dad when I watch nature/wild life documentaries because he loved them, too. My dad was pretty tough on us when we were growing up, and I didn’t always agree with his decisions or opinions, but I know that he was only doing what he thought was best. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for.
In later years, the happiest I saw my dad was when he was spending time with his grandchildren. I’ll remember him that way the most, I think.
Rest in peace now, Dad.