I always viewed my daddy to be immortal. To me, I couldn't imagine a life without him. When I was younger, the song "Butterfly Kisses" will always make me cry. Because every time I heard it, I hear my dad's words to me. And every time I heard it, it makes me think of the day he would eventually leave me. Now that it has come to past, it is more unbearable than any sorrow I had been through yet. I also cannot believe that he's actually gone.
I admire him tremendously and often speak about him in my conversations. I spoke of him in my recent blog about Bersih 3.0 which I am glad thousands got to hear. When I am giving training, I talk about him and about things he's taught me. And as I lay him to rest today, I think about all he's passed on to me.
He taught me to never stop learning. Retired at the age 55 from the police force, his inquisitive mind will not let him stop. He continued working almost till his dying day. He's had at least 3 different jobs since his career as a police officer - from property development to food manufacturing to managing foreign labour. Every one of them required him to learn everything from scratch. But learning gave him joy. And knowledge gave him power. He shared his knowledge generously to those who wanted to learn. And from that, I made learning into what I do for a living. I live to learn, and I try to pass on whatever knowledge I have gained.
He taught me to protect the people you love. He literally rather die than to see us suffer. And that he did. When I was a child, I frequently complained about his over protectiveness. As childish ignorance vanished and I begun to see the world for what it actually is, I understood that he did that because he didn't want anything to harm me, even if it meant that I 'hated' him for brief moments. As I became a parent myself, I understood the reasoning that he'd rather hurt himself than have anything hurt me. He also loved his country. He spent his whole life sacrificing himself to protect the people in it. So now is my turn, to continue to protect the people he loves.
He taught me the value of charity. He looked after people who couldn't look after themselves. I witnessed first hand since I was a child, how he brought joy to the needy. He would bring us along on his food distribution trips to the homeless. We helped him do this 3 times a year at least. People stood in line waiting for their ration of which my dad personally purchased. I saw him make a difference to people who felt hopeless. And he allowed me to play a part in that giving of hope. Till now, I continue to do my part in charity, and it is because he showed me how and taught me why.
He taught me the art of story telling; that of which he learnt from his mother. The ability to capture his audience with fascinating tales that make them ponder, reflect. Stories that paint pictures of a mysterious time and era past. Stories that draw out insights, make you laugh and make you cry. When he lost his voice because of the tumor, I sensed his frustration. His passion for sharing treasured memories and thrilling adventures is what drives me to to the same. In my work and in my conversations, this is one skill that I appreciate the most. The ability to draw an audience in and keep them interested fuels my appetite to speak with meaning.
He taught me about unconditional love, how even in moments of unimaginable suffering as long as love exists, nothing is impossible to bear. Even in his last hours experiencing excruciating pain, he smiled so that we can feel loved. No matter what I have done, it never changed his love for me. He loved without expectations, without limitations and without hesitation. When I decided to drop out of university and forgo my scholarship to pursue my own path, he welcomed me home with open arms and went out of his way to show support for pursuit of my dreams. He showed me that love is not expressed in words alone, but in a continuous act of giving - giving of one's time, heart and soul.
As I carry his ashes in my arms, I accept - the fact that he has asked me to please let him go. But I miss him dearly. I've never felt safe except when he's around. How am I ever to feel that sense of security now that he's gone? But I do know one thing, and that is I will be okay. Many friends and family worry about me, that I might not be able to handle his passing well. But although I am beyond sad, my daddy has taught me one more thing...strength. There are times where we feel down and out, but nothing ever breaks our will and spirit. We conquer fears, disappointments, heartaches and failures, and we rise above it to start all over again. We will not be defeated. Call us stubborn, but we are built to withstand any storm that comes our way.
So even though cancer may seem to have won this battle, he did not lose. He went on his own terms, and left us strength to carry on. But most importantly, his victory in life is that his legacy lives on. He died a man without regrets, proud, and surrounded by the people he loved the most. After all, isn't that what's life all about?
I love you Daddy. I miss you so much. Thank you for being my hero. Rest in peace.