You were the first man I ever knew and loved. While I certainly do not remember meeting you in my blood-filled, mucousy glory, I do remember a loving and patient father who was (and still is) always there for me, no matter what. More importantly, you were the first man I knew who would love me unconditionally, for who I am, in spite of what I do or say.
As a young child, I remember being very playful. I never wanted to wear pants, choosing to run around the house in my t-shirt and underwear. In an attempt to incentivize me (I’m sure you got it from the parenting books), you told me that if you came home and saw me wearing pants, you would give me a star. Multiple stars would equate to a treat of my choice. I never liked the idea of wearing pants but really loved the idea of having a treat. Hence, I learned to recognize the sound of the gates opening and your car driving into the garage so that I would always have enough time to run upstairs, wear my pants and greet you with loving arms. I suppose I wasn’t very honest then but I can truthfully tell you that one of the highlights of my day was running into your arms at the end of the day to greet you and give you a huge hug.
Your belief in incentivizing good behaviour continued even when I was in primary school. I remember your “treat” cards where if I behaved, I would get the opportunity to choose from a deck of cards with treats written on them. It could be something as trivial as an ice-cream treat, to a day at the zoo, and the most awesome of all, any activity of my choice!
While these small but thoughtful gestures were highly appreciated, what I am most thankful for was the fact that you made the effort to spend quality time with me. Thank you for the solo trips including that trip to the zoo (I still remember the picture with the orang utan), a boat ride along Singapore River with my brother (I still have the tickets!) and the daddy & daughter date to Disney on Ice (I still have that photo of us with Donald Duck)!
I really enjoyed those precious moments and now, having grown up and having friends who have children of their own, I appreciate your efforts even more as I now know that it takes a lot of courage and effort for fathers to agree to bring their children out, alone (with no wife or maid). . Not all fathers (that I know of) bothered to do that but you did.
I now tell my husband that when we do have children, he must be comfortable with spending quality time with our children, with or without me.
I am truly thankful for holding closely to the belief that girls would grow up confident and possess self-respect if their father showed them love constantly. I truly believe that I am the woman I am today, the woman that my husband loves so deeply, because of the time and effort that you have spent on me.
More importantly, you taught me the importance of owning up and having the security to admit my mistakes. You were one of the rare parents who were actually comfortable with apologizing to a young 12-year-old girl when you were in the wrong. Most of my friends’ parents refused to admit they were wrong or even apologize because “I am your parent”.
I believe it was values like these, and others, which have enabled me to be successful in my career today.
Thank you for making the effort to invest your time, prayers and love in me. I am truly where I am today because of the love that both you and mummy have showered on me. You can say that you have a legacy in me (not just my values but my mustache too!) =)
Lastly, thank you for the sweet letter and for being my father. I cried when I read it because I know that life on earth is temporal. And the thought that you and mum will one day be no longer around never fails to bring tears to my eyes. But I know that at least we can all one day reunite in heaven again. While this part sounds like an eulogy, I figured it makes more sense telling you such things when you are alive rather than doing so when you are no longer around to hear it.
I love you.