Do It Now

by Patrick Liew on June 16, 2011

April 5, 2010

I want to share with you about my Papa (father). We had a wonderful relationship, the memories of which I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Papa worked 364½ days almost every year. 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 on the eve of the Chinese New Year. That was also the time Papa would give the same speech every year. He worked hard so that our family could be united and be happy together.

In a traditional Chinese family home, we don’t explicitly express our feeling 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 not 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 disappeared into the kitchen. He would appear with two bowls of my favourite food, giving me the impression that he had personally cooked them just for me.

Papa was a friendly person and he made friends easily. He was also known to have a great sense of humour. Within seconds, he could befriend anybody, make the person laugh, and bond with him.

Papa lived a hard life. He had to struggle to make a living for us. I only felt it when I worked with him for one day.

Papa was a lorry driver. He had to go through great difficulties loading different goods. He had to drive non-stop except for lunch to as far away as Penang, and then drive back with new goods.

Along the way, he would be harassed by his bosses, colleagues, customers and even 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 to put food on our table. He even learned more than 8 languages and dialects on his own so that he can win favour from more customers.

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 feet 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 throughout his life.

I swore to myself I would give Papa a good life. I would buy him anything that he wanted and anything that would make him happy. I would also do many special things for him.

After my studies, I served my National Service. My soldier’s pay could barely support myself. I was happy when I started working and, just like Papa, I worked very hard to climb the career ladder and to make more money. I would spend my evenings attending courses to improve myself.

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.

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

I went on my knees in the hotel room, I cried and I cried. I was screaming, “Papa…Papa….Papa….”

My Papa has gone. I did not have a chance to tell him I love him.

I wanted to hug him but I couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer do anything for him. I ran out of time.

Why am I sharing this story with you? There are many things you always wanted to do. Do it now.

You kept telling yourself you will do it someday. Do it now.

You believe there will always be time. How do you know? Do it now.

Do it now.

P/S:      My family decided to have a short funeral. We were too shocked to inform everybody. We just placed 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. Papa somehow touched their lives.

They felt they must make their way to the funeral and see him for the last time. Many had tears in their eyes.


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

I miss the times we spent together. I love you.

My heart still aches for you.

I will continue to share about you even though it tears my heart apart. I hope your story will continue to touch more lives.

 We will meet again in heaven.


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