My daughter made me a cup of coffee today for Father’s Day. It tasted not as good as I would have liked it, but it was one of the best damn coffee I’ve had. Such is the power of a parent’s love.
I didn’t even know my own father when I was a kid, let alone to appreciate a day for him. Father’s Day was non existent for me until I turned adolescent. My father and my mom got separated when I was 6, and I never knew about how having a father at home felt like. My mom back then, in order not to overburden herself explaining stuff to a kid, made things simple by telling me that my dad was a bad guy and that I should stay the fuck away from him. Whenever he missed me and came visiting, my mom would ask me to hide in the room and we’d pretend nobody was home until he went away. Sure enough, I’d still get to meet him on and off, like during Chinese New Year et al, but it was never long and memories of those short meetings are somewhat blurry.
But one day when I was 11, I made an effort to meet up with my father without my mom’s knowledge – that was when she went for a week long vacation (yep, my mom would leave me tending to myself for weeks, since I was little. Had gotten used to it). I took a bus to the town, and met him up at my grandma’s house (which he was staying at). That short few days, my father and I caught up with each other, and he brought me around to eat street food (I still remember what we ate), to the cinema (it was a big deal going to cinemas back then – we watched “A Fish Called Wanda”) and we went around to meet his old friends (he didn’t have a transport because he was pissed-fuck poor, we either walked or took a trishaw). By today’s standard, it might not amount to anything significant, but for me who was brought up in a single parent environment – it was the first time I felt having another someone whom I can bond with and really talk to. (my dad was the reasonable one between my parents. He was much more cool headed and intelligent. My mom was the disciplinarian and talking to her was impossible).
We parted after that few days, and said goodbye at a filthy bus station next to Penang’s famous transvestite street (Kuantan Road, ask around). I boarded the famous green city bus the night before my mom came home, and I got teary eyed in the bus throughout the journey home. That week, was my Father’s Week, and I still remember them today. Every day in that week, was the accumulated Father’s Days I missed with my father through the years (and we didn’t know it). We kept in touch for a couple more years after that week and one night, I brought my father home to my mom. They rekindled their relationship in 1989 (that’s roughly a year after that Father’s Week), and in 1990 – they saved enough to buy a new home and we moved in there together for the first time as a complete family (with my sister, who miraculously appeared after running from home for quite a while).
That was the only period we were completely together. They got separated again in 1999. House got sold, and all of us were separated from each other. Didn’t get together until 2 years later, when I brought Emily to meet my mom and moved in to live at her rented house. Emily and I bought a house in 2002, and the 3 of us moved in together (that’s the closest semblance of a complete family ever got after 1999). I still kept in contact with my father after the 1999 break, but we never lived together again until his death (from liver cancer) in 2003. My mom lived to meet my daughter Regine, and decided to leave us in 2011 by ending her own life after a serious falling-out with her siblings.