Dad passed on unexpectedly this year.
The children asked me once, when they saw my reddened eyes, ”Mom, shouldn’t you move on? Grandpa had passed on for a few months now.” While the rational adult in me would quickly agree, the little girl in me can’t. I miss my dad…I really miss my dad…I found the separation unbearable…I wish there is no separation at all…Rebecca had wisely verbalized these same thoughts when my dad was in ICU. She said that she would no longer be able to see 外公(maternal grandpa) smile and would miss the gentle way he talked to them. Rebecca also recalled the twinkle in grandpa’s eyes when he was happy. Yes, there were such times. I remember seeing that in photos dad took with me as a young child…and one which he took with Li-Ann when we went for church camp.
The past months had been tormenting…even now, too, as I write. Everything around me seems to remind me of my dad. I wonder what were his dreams and hopes for me when I was young. I wonder if I had met his expectations. I wonder if I had been filial. I wonder if there were times he felt so tired working that he just wanted to take a super long break. I wonder if he had any regrets. I wonder if he would miss his grandchildren. I wonder if he would miss us. I wonder what were his last thoughts. I wonder…suddenly I realize how little I know about my own father. Somehow these thoughts just paralyze me.
It was agonizing trying to reconcile the fact that my dad would not be calling me on the phone, saying my name, asking what I am doing and telling me he wants to talk to the grandchildren…that he would not be making his way to my house, sitting in the white chair and taking off his shoes…joining us for a meal…playing games with us…going for a walk or a swim…While dad was a man of few words, he was well aware of what was happening and certainly his presence was felt and now, very much missed.
I also found myself wishing I don’t have to go to some places. The rehabilitation centre had been a blessing for my dad. I brought him there for therapies for some weeks. I remember the times I picked him, the way he walked slowly to the car, how he met the therapists for therapy and after each session, he would wait at the same seat for me to pick him up. The hospital where he passed on was another such place. I can’t help but recall all the mornings I was there, spending time with dad, talking to him, helping him and praying with and for him. Then there is the mortuary. Just passing by it is enough to evoke vivid flashbacks of the day that I had to be there with mom to identify dad’s body. I can’t help but wish that wasn’t dad….It is also trying for me to visit mom at my parent’s place. Everything there brings back memories of my dad – his seat at the dinner table, his favourite spot near the door to feel the cool breeze, how he walked around, the photos on the wall.…it must be so much tougher for my mom who lives there. Now there’s only one towel on the rack, one toothbrush in the cup and one pillow on the bed. Clearing dad’s things was another dreaded task. We remember his favourite few shirts and pants. Dad was a simple person.
Picking up dad’s ashes and placing them into the urn was done with much reluctance. While I did it with utmost care and reverence, it was something I wish I didn’t have to do. The man who assisted us told us dad’s bones were tough as he observed a few big pieces in the ashes. He even taught us how to identify the parts of the hip bone and the skull. I found it hard to believe what was left of my dad. How can it be? I wish that wasn’t dad….
I fear that I will forget my dad, his voice, his smile, his demeanour, his everything….I wonder how one goes on….this grief is such a difficult and heavy burden to bear. It’s as if a part of you has been taken away and the void is painfully stark and hopeless. I wish that wasn’t dad….