When I was little, I was given to my grandma to raise so I didn’t grow up with my parents or siblings.
I didn’t know why and didn’t think about asking it but I remember Dad coming once or twice every week, usually taking me to the bookstore. He was eternally taciturn, would nod at me, asking where I’d been and then laughed when I rolled my eyes at his favorite, torn and worn T shirt.
(It was a free T shirt from this brand of packaged, nibbling nuts called Supernut – which was emblazoned prominently across his chest!)
And then there was this one time when he came in excitedly, saying, “Check this out,” and then proceeded to pull up his T shirt and show me this ugly scarring from the stitches he got after the appendix removal surgery. And I went, what…?
I never lived with him but there were nights when he insisted I came ‘home’ with him, spending the night at the house Mom and Dad and my two siblings lived. I remembered crying and asking to be taken back at midnight because I wanted my Grandma and it was Dad who sang me to sleep.
After I came and lived in Jakarta, I once sent him a passport picture-sized of me so that he could arrange for the renewal of my ID card.
He had always known me with the Dora the Explorer kind of bob hairstyle, so when he got my long haired version in the picture, he immediately texted me. “I’ll send you some money – apparently you’re keeping too tight a fist; not going to the salon and letting your hair grow wild like a criminal.” LOL.
In one of his last texts, he was scandalized. Due to the ongoing riot and cultural clashes back at home, my parents had had to move a couple of times, sometimes leaving belongings like clothes behind.
“I have no more pants to go to church – I had to go wearing jeans last time! Can you please buy me some new ones?”
And I found myself rolling on the floor laughing because my Dad, the one who had been wearing the holey Supernut T shirt, was being beaten by the church.
I didn’t get around to do that until quite some time and what do you know? A week after he received those pants, he died. They said he was just waiting for them so that he could be buried proper.
Dad was one of those special people, seemingly devoid of open displays of affection and yet, I never for one second doubt his love.
That’s my kind of security.
Can’t tell you Happy Father’s Day anymore but I love you still, Dad!