In this photo, I think I am about one or two years old. According to Mummy, you had just returned from serving your reservist in the Army in Taiwan and you’d bought me by very first itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie-yellow-polka-dot .. swimsuit. Both of you immediately brought me for a swim at our old condo in Siglap and I took to the water (relatively) fearlessly and had a splashing good time. The priceless moment caught in this photo is truly something money cannot buy and it is so, so precious to me.
In the years between, as I grew from happy baby to sulky teenager and you continued to work hard to provide for our family, our relationship became strained at times, and there were fights, oh, were there fights. I remember yelling, caning, grounding and so many threats to send me to a girl’s home. At many points in my angsty adolescence, I found myself wishing that I had a more doting, a more concerned, and a more funny father who would really bother to understand me and treat me like a princess.
Today, at 26, I know that I could not have had a better father. I appreciate that it would have been easier for you to simply raise me as a spoilt brat princess but you and Mummy chose to raise me as a Child of God with the right priorities and a solid set of morals – and that couldn’t have been easy, what with all the rage and unreasonable things I have said when lashing out in moments of anger.
I appreciate that you chose not to be my friend, but to be the kind of father who is the role model man on whom I model all my expectations for a husband. Because of you Daddy, I looked for a husband who had the qualities of compassion, responsibility, a strong moral compass and an undying devotion to his family. And that, more than a sportscar for my 21st birthday or branded bags, is the best gift any daughter could have received, because it is a gift towards my future happiness.
As a newly-minted married adult with responsibilities both emotional and financial, it is only now that I can see how difficult it must have been for you, raising such a large family and supporting your parents all by yourself. I have seen how Mummy has prayed, supported and stood by you through times of adversity, uncertainty and how your love has kept us all together, and I am moved by how strong the bonds which hold our family together are.
In your middle age, Daddy, you are still hale, hearty and energetic, but I finally see your softer, jokier side when you talk to my youngest brothers and instead of resenting the fact that I did not grow up with the Daddy you are now, I feel grateful that I grew up with you, and had the best of both worlds.
Daddy, today I want to thank you for all the love you have lavished on me and the rest of us over the years. Thank you for passing on your quirky habits like eating peanut butter with a spoon out of a jar along with your strength and compassion, thank you for forcing me to go on rollercoasters and introducing me to Simon and Garfunkel and Bossa Nova, thank you for your amazing Sunday morning omelettes, thank you for giving me the same slightly imbalanced face (I like to believe it gives us character), wonky teeth, but thank you most of all for leaving a legacy and setting the example for how I will try to raise my childen (your grandchildren) in the years to come.