This gets personal. Very syrupy. Be forewarned.
Let me tell you about my hero. He grew up in a poor family in Jelebu, son of a poor man who cycled rubber sap to the processing plant for a living. His was an uneducated family, one that discouraged tertiary education. Yet, out of sheer stubbornness he got himself into college, and became an engineer.
He is a hard worker. For all the complaining I do about my work as a doctor, he works even more. He made sure that his 4 kids got everything they needed; a good home, solid education, food on the table. Things went well at work, he spent some years working as a GM in a firm in KL. However, one year the firm went down, and he was retrenched. His kids recall their folks telling them to cut down on the spending and try to save some. But that was it; they told their kids not to worry, that things would be fine. And to the kids, although things did seem tighter, felt secure throughout, sheltered by mom and dad.
They got through some hard times. But things turned around after some time. They were able to send their kids for good education despite the scholastic racial bias we see so often. 2 have accounting degrees, one's a crazy physician, while the youngest (silly girl) is in medical school.
Recently, only very recently, 15 years after dad lost his job, did my sister and I find out the truth. That this gallant man, an engineer by training who lived in a big house and drove a Volvo then, head of a household, in an valiant effort to keep food on the table, went as far as to work as a labourer, spraying weedkiller in fields of lalang and brush, under the sweltering sun of Malaysia. He did this for a year. Sometimes driving as far as Seremban to Rawang, to put on his straw hat, boots, and then to load the heavy spray tank on his back and to work, to earn a few dollars for his family. But, in spite of it all, he sheltered his kids from the truth. Not a squeak.
And told us only a decade later.
I was in awe. I think Caryn (my sis) was too.
While I'm lacking in qualities, I'd like to think that I picked some of my better traits from Dad. His generosity, and kindness. Things he would do for strangers, but also the length to which he would go for friends.
I remember this one event when I was a kid, of Mom scolding him for doing something she considered to be very dangerous, of picking up a stranger/hitchhiker at the Seremban end of the north-south highway, and giving him a ride to KL to see a sick relative, because this pak cik had spent his money on tickets for his wife and kids and couldn't join them on the bus. Dad had wanted to check his IC first and made sure his wallet was empty (so that his story checked out), but otherwise, gave him a ride after hearing him out, and gave him money when he dropped him off. I doubt they'd remember this story now, after all it was over 15 years ago. But I do. So vividly.
Dad tells me now of how proud he is of us, his kids. But the truth is, we are the ones who are proud. Of him, and Mom.
Who I am, what I've accomplished, how far I will go in life, I owe it entirely to them.
Happy Father's Day, Dad!