Happy Father’s Day

22 06 2009

My first Father’s Day.

I’ve told my wife what I really thought of Father’s Day from my own point of view, particularly after having witnessed what she had to go through giving north to our son. Father’s Day to me was like an afterthought; someone came up with Mother’s Day, and then about a month after celebrating the general awesomeness of motherhood and giving thanks to the pain and hardship of women the world over for bringing up the next generation of leaders, movers and shakers, someone else suddenly sat up and asked, “what about the fathers?”

If you asked me today, “Do you feel like a father?”, I honestly would say no. I mean, given the last 6 months, as opposed to the extra 9 months of labour my wife had to go through, coupled with the last 30 hours of birthing that eventually involved every standard birth procedure (natural, induced, forceps and C-section), I was about as useful as my little toe. And till today, I still feel that way.

Se of you may know I got into a chain collision a week back. No injuries, save for a motorcyclist skidding that turned out to be the cause of the sudden turn of events but was deemed umrelated to the subsequent cars affected. Well, although no one got seriously hurt, the implications weighed heavily on me. For one, I was the last car involved, meaning the car’s insurance would be bearing the brunt of all the other vehicles’ claims. Add to that the fact that it was my father-in-law’s car, not mine, so obviously I’m not a named driver in the policy. Then add to that the fact that I just got my license and am still under probation, and you’ve got yourself a big mess worthy of a teenager’s penchant for trouble.

I’m gonna go out on a limb by saying this whole accident incident has made me doubt my self-worth as a father, a husband and a so-called head of my household. In the current climate, what with my company’s cutbacks and the general downturn in the incomes of those around me, I really couldn’t afford an accident in my current position. Where before that fateful day I felt like I could accomplish a lot, for a week and counting I was put in my place right proper and told to fucking grow up and come back to earth.

My in-laws were nothing but compassionate about my plight and stopped at nothing to help me out with the car repairs, insurance queries, and most of all, breaking the news to my father-in-law. As much as I deeply appreciated them for everything they did, I felt deeply ashamed that I wasn’t doing right by their daughter and sister. And I’m deeply ashamed that thus far I have done more harm than good for my wife and child because of my carelessness.

So do I feel like a father? No.

***

I feel bad for my own dear old dad. In the midst of having to deal with my own problems, my communication with my parents have been getting less and less, with my dad getting the brunt of the neglect.

He hasn’t been doing too well either in the past months. After having to deal with doctors telling him he’s got a heart problem and even showed evidence in his ECG that he’s had a heart attack and stroke before (so mild even he didn’t notice), currentedical results now show that he’s possibly diabetic.

He’s aged a lot in the last 2 years. The tiredness is manifesting in his receding hairline, growing number of wrinkles, his lack of energy and even his mood. The once energetic man with a corny sense of humour and an ability to solve problems in a heartbeat is now a tired old man, prone to impatience and bad temperment and sorely in need of sleep.

And all I could do today was send him a Father’s Day greeting via SMS. Heck of a father I am, and now, heck of a son.

Someone should just fire me from my life, because I’m doing a terrible job of living it.





My Father, the “Lao Hee Low”.

10 06 2008

My mum called me this morning telling me my dad had spent the night at a hospital for gout pains. Apparently a friend had to drive him from work (he was on night shift) to Alexandra Hospital because of the excruciating pain he was feeling, ad the doctors had told him to rest in the hospital and head home in the morning.

As far as dad’s medical history was concerned, this was almost unheard of. My father has an occupational history of the last 16 years without a single sick day, and would rather tough it out in the office than stay home and lay in bed nursing a fever or some such minor illness. He is also a colon cancer survivor with the determination to survive that’s as strong as steel, and even when he went into surgery to remove the cancer from inside of him, he contemplated taking leave to do it. Incidentally, that was 17 years ago.

My father was, and still is, on the payroll of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and has gone through grunt work, up to supervisory positions, and even all the way into management level. During this time he has always stood up for what he believed in, even when it meant standing up against what he didn’t. If not for the fact that he was working for government, he’d probably be a mafia don by now.

Case in point (and I am trying my best to portray as accurate a picture as I can): at one period in his career, my dad had been relegated to guarding illegal immigrants’ lockup cells. When he told me this story, I was envisioning one of those Mexican police station lockups with my dad and a colleague sitting in an open area in front of the cells smoking and playing poker or something (of course, this being Singapore, it is very likely much more mundane than that). The guy he’s supposed to report to (this young hotshot university graduate that liked to pull rank, especially to older, more experienced staff, as a show of breast feathers) walks in one day while they were smoking and playing poker and starts shouting at them for skiving at work.

As he drew nearer to them, my father – still seated – starts reasoning with him (what do you expect him to do? British-Royal-Guard the lockup with 4-hourly change-of-guard ceremonies?), but the impertinent bespectacled man starts screaming down at him in his chair, bringing my dad to boiling point. So my dad gets up out of his chair and looks down into Officer Suddenly-Realising-His-Subordinate-Is-a-Head-Taller and starts telling him in a louder-than-comfortable voice, “Show some respect,” while raising his index finger to Captain Wide-Eyed and slowly pushing his glasses back up his suddenly sweaty nose bridge and into his face – hard. A few months later the university graduate requested a transfer out of that department (my dad says the guy tried to get him transferred, but was told of my dad’s history with ICA and decided to do it to himself instead).

Of course, this may be a little more dramatic than what actually happened, in which case, do forgive the idolising son who has not encountered any other person in his life with such a strong personality.
Which leads me to the epilogue of this entry. Over the weekend I heard my dad had gone to get himself checked for some immobility in his left arm, and he did a very similar thing as I have described above to the doctor that was unfortunate enough to have been tasked to show him his ECG results. It went along the lines of him flipping out int he doctor’s office, telling the poor physician that his results cannot be trusted and that he should eat the file his ECG results came in (or something).

He was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke and a heart attack.

Strength is measured in many forms, not least in physical attributes, and more intangibly, character. But while strength can be taken from the body in many ways, it is not easily diminished in a person’s character, so long as he has held on to that strength his entire life. Say hi to my dad.