The Last Lesson My Father Taught Me.

by Patrick Liew on June 18, 2012

On 17 March 1990, Papa passed away suddenly. He had a heart attack after an enjoyable holiday with his soulmate, my Ma.

He collapsed while queuing to stamp his passport at the Singapore Customs.

… At that point in time, our family was in shock and deeply saddened. It took us a long time to recover from the grief.

Looking back today, I feel it was a beautiful way to go.

No prolonged illness. No medical bills. No burden to his loved ones or anyone.

Papa left us with a smile on his face and an uplifted spirit from the vacation.

We placed a small advertisement in the obituary column – a routine act by almost every bereaved family. It was hard to believe the response we got at the funeral wake.

The HDB void deck was literally packed.

Many rushed to the funeral to see Papa for the last time. Many came with a message from their hearts for our family.

There was a man with a swarthy face, probably in the 60s, who came very close to me. He held my hands and with glistening eyes, he shared these moving words with me,

“I’m a retired policeman. I’ve met your dad for only a short period of time.

“Somehow, he made a strong impression on me. He brightened up my life.

“When I saw his photo in the newspaper, I told myself I have to come and see him off”.

There were many others who shared with me how they treasured Papa’s friendship and valued the time they spent together. They came from many corners of the country and different walks of life.

My Papa’s funeral awakened me to develop an important value. He was a poor man but he left a rich lesson for me.

One good way to measure my success is the number of friends who will show up at my funeral – people who will be thankful for my life and will miss me when I am gone.

I do not want to go through what Thomas Hardy called the ‘second death’ in his poem, ‘The To-Be-Forgotten’,

‘They bide as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
It is the second death’.

I thought to myself, ‘It is tragic if I die, no one will remember me or worst, want to remember me.

‘I can take nothing away with me at the end of my life. However I can leave behind something of value’.

The highest value will be how I lived for our Creator and my contributions to the people around me and the environment. If I live for this noble aspiration, I will live a good life.

Have a blessed Father’s Day.


Papa, thank you for inspiring me to have more friends in my life.

I cannot ask for a better friend than you. I wish you were here to meet my friends.

I can see you partying with all your friends in heaven now.

There will not be any tears, only joy forevermore.

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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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