2. Happy Father’s Day (Sunday, June 17, 2018) – Story #2: My Father’s Story

by Patrick Liew on August 27, 2018

2. Happy Father’s Day (Sunday, June 17, 2018) – Story #2: My Father’s Story

I want to share with you about my Papa (father).

We had a wonderful relationship, and memories of my time with him still linger even though he has left us many years ago.

Papa worked 364½ days on most years.

I don’t remember Papa applying for leave, falling ill, or taking time off from work.

He had to work very hard to support our large family and keep all of us alive.

Papa only stopped work for the family reunion dinner, held annually during the eve of the Chinese New Year.

That was also the time when Papa would give the same speech every year.

The theme of the message, “Papa worked hard so that our family can be united and be happy together. Let’s eat.”

In a traditional Chinese family home, we don’t express our feeling explicitly for each other or hug one another.

However, I knew Papa had a special love for me.

He thought highly of me – more than I did for myself.

He wanted me to have everything that he dreamed about but could never have in his life.

Papa and I spent many great moments together.

I remember having many breakfasts with him at a run-down coffee shop. He would sit me down and then disappear into the kitchen.

He would reappear with two bowls of my favourite food.

He wanted to give me the impression that he had personally cooked the food just for me.

I would play along for the fun of it.

Papa was a friendly person and he made friends easily. He was also known to have a great sense of humour.

Within minutes, Papa could befriend anybody. He could make the other person laugh and bond with him.

Papa lived a hard life. He had to struggle to make a living for us.

I never realized it until I went to work with him one day.

Earlier on, Papa was a lorry driver and had to go through great difficulties loading different goods and transporting them through long journeys.

He had to drive non-stop; except for lunch, to as far away a place as Penang and then drive back with new goods.

Along the way, he would be harassed by his bosses, colleagues and customers.

Back then, he was abused by many corrupted policemen who wanted a part of the meager earnings he made per trip.

When he was older, Papa became a taxi-driver. He worked on both day and night shifts so as to put food on the table.

He even learned more than eight languages and dialects on his own.

He did it so that he could win the hearts of more customers.

He did everything possible to give us a good life.

One evening, I saw Papa parking his car from the window of our HDB flat.

He was walking with a limp and was almost dragging his injured foot across the ground.

That day, Papa had an accident. He did not see a doctor because he did not want to “waste money” on himself.

Since that day, Papa walked with a limp. He lived with the inconvenience of a physical disability while doing his daily chores.

At that point, I swore to myself that one day I would give Papa a good life. I planned to do many special things for him.

I told myself that when I become a working adult, I would buy him everything that would make him happy.

I would do anything to give him a good life.

After graduation, I served my National Service. My soldier’s pay could barely support myself.

I could not do much for Papa and I did not have much time to spend with him.

After my stint in the army, I went to work in the private sector. Like my Papa, I worked very hard to climb the career ladder.

I would spend my evenings attending many courses to improve myself.

The rest of the time were spent doing homework and “catching up with life.”
I spent very little time with Papa.

Deep in my heart, I told myself, someday things would change.

Everything I planned to do for Papa would come true.

“Wait for me Papa,” I told myself.

One day, I went on a business trip to Jakarta. That afternoon, the phone rang.

My mother was crying on the line.

She said, “Your Papa had a heart attack. He passed away suddenly.

“He’s no longer with us. He’s gone forever.”

That afternoon, I went on my knees in the hotel room.

I cried and cried…for a long time.

I was screaming, “Papa!…Papa!…Papa!…”

My Papa has gone.

I would never have a chance to tell him I love him.

I wanted to hug him but I couldn’t do it anymore.

I could not do anything with him and for him.

I ran out of time.

Shortly after, I caught the next plane back.

At the funeral, I remember holding on to the coffin.

I would have crushed it if I could.

I could not bear to see Papa’s body being boxed up – his life taken away from him suddenly.

“Wake up Papa! Wake up!

“I’ve a lot to tell you. I want to do many things with you.

“I’ll drop everything to spend time with you. Please!!!

“Please open your eyes. Talk to me! Talk to me! Please!”

What was even more heart wrenching was to see my my mother mourning for Pa.

Through the ups and downs in their lives, they stood by each other.

You can never imagine a greater love between two persons of my parent’s generation or for that matter, any other generation.

At that point, it was heart-breaking to see what became of Ma after Papa left her. It virtually tore the soul from her.

Ma lost her only lover, companion and friend.

She lost, more than anything else, the essence of her heart and it took a long time before she could recover from the tragedy.

I felt Ma’s grief, a deep-seated sorrow that she and she alone had to bear.

Throughout the funeral, she bravely suppressed the pain in her heart as she frantically arranged the funeral, a final farewell for Papa.

It was only when everybody had left, Ma wept. All alone and all to herself.

She cried softly and I’m sure the pain and sorrow went right through to the depth of her being.

Later, Ma had to get rid of everything in her bedroom. She had to move to another room.

She could not bear the pain of seeing anything that reminded her of Papa.

Any memory of him would cause Ma to break down in tears.

She dreamed about Pa every now and then and she looked forward to seeing him again.

I would never forget the final scene of the funeral, the final farewell at the crematorium.

As the attendants roll the cremation casket into the chamber, the whole scene was captured in my heart in slow motion.

Inch by inch, the casket was rolled into the cruel fire.

In that few moments, my world crumbled.

Everybody in the family broke down.

We can’t help crying our lungs out for Pa.

We were screaming out our sorrow for him, for a man who gave a large part of his adult life for us.




There’s nothing I could do to wind back the clock.

I could not redo what I’ve done with Papa.

I could not correct my past dealings.

There was nothing I could do for my Papa in the future.

My promise to look after him would never be fulfilled.

Time has taken the last chance away from me.

The last train had left while I was trying to reach the station.

Why am I sharing this story with you?

There are many things that you have always wanted to do.

Please do it now.

You have always wanted to draw closer to your parents.

You have wanted to tell them, “I love you”.

Do it today – before it is too late.

Do it before you run out of time.

Do it now.


My family decided to have a short funeral wake. We were too shocked to inform everybody.

We placed just a small notice in the obituary column.

However, the funeral was packed with people.

Many told me they knew my Papa for only a short period of time.

Their life had had somehow been touched by him.

They felt they must make their way to the funeral and see him for the last time.

Many had tears in their eyes.

That evening, I realised once again that Papa was a great and wonderful soul.


Thank you for being my father. I will never forget your love.

I miss the times we spent together.

My heart still aches for you.

I will continue to share about you even though it breaks my heart every time I do it.

I hope your story will continue to touch more lives.

I look forward to the day when we will meet again in heaven.

Papa, I love you.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please ‘Like’ me on https://m.facebook.com/patrickliewsg

Please visit my website, http://www.patrickliew.net

Follow me on:

Visit my Inspiration blog at https://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs,
please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Let’s connect on instagram.com/patrickliewsg
– via @patrickliewsg

https: //twitter.com/patrickliew77
– via @patrickliew77

My LinkedIn

My Quora https://www.quora.com/profile/Patrick-Liew-5?share=24abf3c1&srid=uL2Gz

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


Powered by Facebook Comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: