- been trapped in his patriarchal past and so lorded it over us.
- equated a person’s worth ONLY with money and power.
- given endless lectures because he knew not how else to connect with his family.
- waxed lyrical about his hometown incessantly, like it was heaven on earth
- praised his own goodness non-stop, saying he’s the best father just because he’s not a criminal, murderer, drunkard, gambler, adulterer, smoker or druggie.
- demonstrated, through frequent shouts and caning, that anger and violence will solve problems.
- kept a record of wrongs.
- told me that studying hard and having a stable, good job were ALL that mattered in life.
- hoarded his savings like Ebenezer Scrooge until death, then bequeathing every available penny to his hometown, not his home.
- scolded and treated my mom like a servant, just because their marriage (his second) was arranged.
- been a turncoat at the slightest whiff of trouble, choosing instead to play the victim’s card, save his own skin and blame others.
- assumed that filial piety is a given, just because.
- surrendered home ownership because he thinks his children won’t abandon him (lucky for him a couple of us didn’t).
- left me with impulsive, explosive fits of anger and rage at the slightest of triggers, even now.
- left me with no positive memories of him when I was a kid, other than some mornings when he would comb my hair with Brylcreem before I caught the bus to school
Instead, I wish he had….
2. …taught me to:
- survive in a male-dominated world.
- play well with others.
- be charitable and kind.
- be strong and steadfast.
- defend the defenceless.
- give unreservedly.
- love and be loved.
3. …spent the time to:
- study with me.
- hear me out.
- admit he was wrong and say sorry.
- play with me when I was little.
- teach me how to clamour less for worldly affirmation.
- help me improve my written Chinese and penmanship.
- find out my likes and dislikes.
- affirm me as a unique individual of inherent worth.
- guide us siblings to be close and not estranged.
- learn to be a father in every biblical sense of the word (or even just a fraction).
- love me.
But he’s been dead six years now so…
Actually, he’s been pretty much ‘dead’ all my growing up years when I most needed a dad.
Too late for recompense.
But don’t worry Father. Your ‘negative’ modelling has taught me what NOT to do with my boys.
So I shall still say a small Happy Father’s Day to you wherever you are.
Rest assured that everything you’ve ‘taught’ me won’t go to waste.
And that every now and then when I remember to, I still pray for your soul to be saved.