Rediscovering Dad

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July 17, 2016 by bck1402

There had been contemplation over writing about this before. The simple reason behind it is the acknowledgement and admission that I really know so-very-little about my dad.

But there was that one piece of advice that stayed.

For as much as I can recall of the man, there is the sense that he was a fair and good man. There were a few things that connected us, as much as there were the differences between those things. While we both enjoyed reading, he was more into Westerns and Naval adventures (he was a Navy man too). The largest collections of books he had were those written by Louis L’Amour and Clive Cussler. When I asked him why he enjoyed Westerns – and this included movies – he said it was more that sense of adventure in the wild frontier, the challenges of facing the unknown, and all that. It was almost similar to why I enjoyed reading science fiction, just a whole different frontier. As much as he enjoyed Cussler, I enjoyed reading Michael Crichton.

And then there was the drawing. I got a little of that from him, and he did give some of the earlier tips on how to draw faces. He was keen in getting my brother and me into tennis, swimming, and a little martial arts, primarily kung-fu. And seemingly out of courtesy and a little respect, I dabbled, but had no real long term competitive interest. I can still play tennis, swim a little for some exercise, and have an interest in martial arts, though not a full-fledged practitioner. I don’t think there was anything I really connected with my dad where those things were concerned.

As mentioned, I don’t know very much about him. What I do know… aside from that little bit mentioned above… he worked in aqua- and agriculture, primarily creating food/feedstuff for poultry or shrimp farms. I remember visiting a farm with him one time, seeing chicks in strange incubators, and crossing over a shrimp pond by using this narrow plank… and I remember stalling halfway, looking down at the plank that seemed to sway over the pond even though my brain kept convincing me that it was a stable platform I was crossing.

I know he was religious, but my mom recently shared some history behind all that, the problems it caused and the rough patches their marriage had to weather because of it. Wasn’t really aware of all that, but I was aware we had two different religions going on at home. There was this altar table in our hall and one time, I was helping him clean it. He found this sealed envelope with my name on it, and he showed it to me, saying it was a prediction he had written years before. The date on the envelope was still a few years away at the time. I never touched it, and it was always there in one of the drawers of the altar table. It was some years later I asked him about it, and he dismissed it. I never knew what it was about or what he had predicted. In all likelihood, it was stuff that very likely didn’t happen as he thought or hoped. I know I disappointed him on occasion; business school was probably the big one.

The most time I spent with him was during the couple of years before I went to study abroad. I was studying graphic design, doing a twinning program where my final year would have taken me to the UK if I hadn’t opted for and had my credits transferred to New Zealand instead. By that time, my dad was undergoing dialysis for his kidneys. My mom would drop him off at the dialysis centre in the mornings, and I would fetch him home during my lunch break. There were days when he would be so worn out I had to either wait for him to recover a little or help him to the car. His condition worsened when I was overseas, and by the time it was decided for me to get home to visit him, he was already in the ICU and in a coma. I spent a week at home before it was decided I should get back to classes as the finals were coming up. It was after I landed in Auckland, waiting for my transit to Wellington when I called home to let them know I arrived okay, and I was informed he passed away a few hours after I left.

I never went back for the funeral.

That’s close to 20 years now, and the memory of him comes and goes. It’s not hard to remember what he looked like, but it is harder to really know who he was aside from those fragmented memories. There was that piece of advice that has always stayed. It was related to driving. As far as I can recall, he only mentioned it twice. He said, “Treat every other driver on the road as if they’re idiots!”

drivingIt was only on the second time that he clarified it a little. By treating every other driver that way, you have to be wary of when someone actually does something idiotic on the road. You become aware and anticipate if something truly dangerous might happen based on how idiotic that driver may be. And in response to that, you have to be a far more careful driver too. So I do have a tendency to use hand signals from time to time as extra warnings, particularly when needing to cut across lanes of traffic. Using hand signals also gives the opportunity to acknowledge and thank the driver who has shown a little courtesy. It’s not always the case in Penang when a simple light signal to move from one lane to the next will more often result in the car behind you speeding up so that he doesn’t have to be behind the idiot who probably didn’t pick the right lane in the first place.

That little piece of advice is the one thing that has stayed with me after all this time.

The Syndi-Jean Journal: Year 2 acknowledges my parents and their contributions to my creative endeavours. In the stories, Jeannie doesn’t really have a father, but she has a father figure in Remington, more so in the third year than before. So, in that, The Syndi-Jean Journal: Year 3 is specifically dedicated to the memory of my dad.


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