Happy Birthday, Dad! (and incidentally my mom in-law too).
It was a special treat to have been able to celebrate his birthday with him this year. After all, being so far away, the last time I got to do this was in 2001. It's interesting though how you appreciate your parents even more now that you're a father. Even simple things like some fatherly advice on how to hold your baby, or feed her. To the more serious things like college education funds, or life insurance to protect your family. It's in many ways a new dynamic to our relationship.
The most special thing though, and this touches me at a very very deep level, is seeing my parents play the role of grandparents to our little Alli. It becomes all so real, not just on the 2-dimensional computer monitor when videoconferencing. And, what really tugs at my heart is watching them hold her, and play with her, and say the same (Hokkien) phrases that they did when we were growing up.
Maybe it's a weird thing to say, but calling this place home now, it's still important for me to think that my child will hopefully retain some of the Malaysian Chinese roots and culture. For I know there will be some things I went through that she will never experience. Like what it feels to be camping in Taman Negara, and wading in a freshwater stream. Or hearing the familiar toots of the Chinese breadman as he made his night rounds on his motorcycle. Or how to make little spinners with a flattened bottle cap and some string. You know, simple things like that. But, at least, to have her learn even simple phrases, like 'nen-nen' (milk), 'chiak pang' (eat rice), 'ah kong' and 'ah ma'. So, having my parents here, and seeing them just surround her with all these traditions, warms my heart immensely.
Dad leaves for Malaysia after a 3 month stay here (mom will stay a couple more months to help with Alli). It's been a swell few months, and I'm sure we'll all miss him, even Alli. The next time he sees her, she'll probably be 1 and half, and running around.