It’s my sister’s birthday today and we had dinner at Gourmet Plus, this fine Italian restaurant along Frankel Avenue. It was a lovely dinner where we chatted, laughed and talked about anything in the world. My sister wanted a glass of wine cos it was a nice and rare family get together but my dad jumped on the idea and bought a bottle instead. Y’see, none of us really drinks. It was just the novelty of drinking wine on her birthday that got my sister suggesting. But my dad loves red wine along with a good conversation hence pop goes the bottle.
Tonight is a night where I learnt more about my dad than other days. Maybe it’s right to say that I am at a place where I’m trying to really see dad from God’s eyes, curious to understand this creatio that has been living with me ever since I was born. And here’s what I learnt: My dad bought over his boss’s business soon after he started working. Shortly after, I was born. On the day I was born, he was happy to welcome me into this world yet worried about how he will feed and clothe me when no orders came in for that day. I can probably understand what he was feeling that day – frustration, worry, joy, withdrawnness when he cannot share that burden with a wife who just went through labour and these words can probably only touch a mere hair of what he was going through. I’m also certain that he didn’t share these feelings with mom but took it all upon himself to bear, for he is the breadwinner and the head of the family. That’s my dad, that’s my hero. I wish he only knew better and perhaps in some strange way, I’m quite sure he knew he would pull through ok. There’s always a rainbow after the storm to look forward to. My dad had to go for some interview recently for the local papers. It ought to be out soon and maybe I’ll scan it in then.
One of the questions he had to answer was: Who was your mentor while growing up? And this is what my dad shared: Ok. He said he never really had a mentor while growing up, somebody to look up to (sorry, anticlimax huh). His dad sent him to a leftist kindergarten where people picked up all the wrong stuff like gambling, which he never took up, and which he is very much against to this very day. He’s never bought the lottery. Never believed in luck. That’s my dad. While still on the topic of mentor/hero, dad started sharing about a particular incident back in the 1960s where a bunch of housewives were discussing about sacrificing children’s heads during a particular bridge construction works so that all works will run smoothly (we’re talking about 1960s Singapore here and yes even my mom recalled hearing people say the same things). My dad felt that it’s plain simple murder, whether the sacrifice is undertaken by the construction company or the government. My grandma told my dad that the sacrifice is necessary/ok but my dad was totally against it. So my question to my dad was, how did you know what is right or wrong for all these things? And his only answer is: it’s his instinct, even at the tender age of 10 – 12.
I love it when God shows me tenderlovingly how He has worked in people’s lives and it’s even more beautiful when I can see how He has had His hands upon my dad’s. I know that this ‘instinct’ can be no other than God, our moral indicator, built into us the very day He fashioned us from dust. My eyes were brimming with happy tears when my dad was telling us all that. God is just always so near, even with people who don’t know how much He loves them.
My dad is a self-made man. Correction. My dad believes he is a self-made man. It is the reason why he has strong opinions about what he believes in, knows and does. His ‘instinct’ has never failed him. Actually it is God who has never failed him.
Dad, do you remember the time grandma was in hospital and the doctor pretty much gave her a bill of death? You frightened us when you cried. Because it wasn’t easy to see the strongest pillar in my life helpless, desperate, no longer in control and no longer putting up a strong front. Remember how you said these very words, that if there is a God, let her be well? Well she did become well. Do you remember that? You may choose to believe later on that the doctors were very equipped with all the best medical equipment, knowledge, efficiency and professionalism to do all the right things at the right time to make her life possible. Maybe you have forgotten your words to God. But My Daddy in heaven never forgets and chooses still to love you and cherish you and protect all that you have been trying to protect. It is easy to focus on what we have been storing up in our lives yet forget that we came to this world with nothing, and leave with nothing. Who determines our unique personality and character when we have nobody to look up to? The ‘instinct’ was never really yours but was given to you by Him who is above. Who are we to claim our characters and personalities as our own other than a greatly endowed gift? It was never by our own abilities. Certainly at a tender age of 10 – 12, you couldn’t have possibly built up that ‘instinct’ and it can only be a gift.
I look back fondly on my younger days when my dad would encourage me to ask alot of questions about anything in the world. I would look out at the sky and ask all the questions I want because I felt my daddy has all the answers in the world. Indeed it always awed me that he could answer my questions which only prompted me to wanna ask more and learn more. It was only much later that I learnt that even daddy isn’t perfect which actually made me rather sad. Simply put, it’s not easy seeing your hero as a villian sometimes yet we all have both faces in us.
One of the strangest things I recalled from my childhood was something my dad said to me. I had this fascination with the sky, the vastness of the heavens and how unlimited the stars were known to be. I often wondered what is outside of the universe and the end of the universe. Out his limited wisdom, he said that it isn’t wise to buy a telescope because then, I’d feel really helpless, really small, being such a tiny tiny part of this infinite world. I thought that was a really strange thing to say or feel because it is a fact, isn’t it, that we are a tiny tiny part of this world?
If I own my life, I’d probably feel that sense of helplessness that my dad was talking about. But the truth is, God owns my life. He owns yours too, each and every one of you, whether you believe it now or later. He gave you a beautiful universe not to make you feel helpless but to show you the magnificence of His beauty and creation, and that He chose to make the earth a place for us to live in, to enjoy His creations with Him. Our God is a God who appreciates all things beautiful and lavishes us so richly with beautiful sights and scenes for our eyes and all senses to take in all the time.
LORD, Maker of heaven and earth, You alone are worthy of all praises, songs and dances that hold You high above all glory. In You, we find love. We love You only because You first love us and love us enough to die as the final sacrificial Lamb, innocent and sinless, to cancel all the debts that we owed you when we sinned against the One who owns us. Boldly You came forth and invited us to love you back. You built in us a heart that yearns to find You eventually, for we will seek our fulfillment in anything that will never satisfy. In You alone can we find rest and peace for we desire to come home to You eventually. Thank you LORD, that You will reveal Yourself to all so that they will love You in return and come home to You in the age to come. In Jesus’s name, AMEN.