Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bye Loh-Tao (老豆) !

"Bye, Loh-Tao (cantonese for 老豆) ! That's what myself and my sis usually say to our dad when we are saying our good-byes to him.

Really, I don't even know where or what to write, say?  My dad passed away in the early hours of 2 May 2010 at home.  His heart stopped and he collapsed on the floor.  My mom only found him later.  It was sudden and traumatic for all of us.  Very much so for my mom and sis.  My sis raced from her flat which is across the field to my mum's place.  She had to turn my dad and perform CPR.  But when she turned him, she knew dad had left us.  Still she persisted.

When the phone rang at 5.27am, I knew something was not good when I heard my sis on the other end.  Till today I can still hear the echoes of what my sis said.  I couldn't get there any earlier as hb was due to land at 6 that morning.

All I could do was pray, cry, pray and cry and ask God was strength and wisdom on how to handle the situation.  And especially to keep the family together and peace during this difficult time.  My family are non-believers although my dad was a Lutheran from birth.  But he was a backslider and very much followed in the ways of my mom.

I placed all my trust in God and God was as usual, always faithful, always good and a great source of my comfort and strength.  As He has promised, everything went so smoothly.  And Praise God, my mom received salvation on the night my dad passed. 

Last Saturday at Kimi's art class, I saw a copy of the Reader's Digest on the coffee table.  Teacher Maria places different kind of reading materials for waiting parents.  This immediately brought tears to my eyes.  My dad is a big fan of RD and National Geographic and has been subscribing and buying their books for many, many years.  So much so when a few months back my mom asked them not to send as my dad has stopped reading, they said it was complimentary to him for being such a loyal customer.

My dad would always encourage us to read, read and read.  I grew up reading these and I love them.  He, himself was an avid reader and picked up the English language himself.  Now, whenever I see the RD, I can't help but feel an emptiness and ache in my heart. 

My dad is by birth a Finnish. But, after 40+ years in Singapore, he is very much just like us, enjoys the local food and peppers his speech with 'lahs' and what nots.  Most people who have met my dad when he was younger and well, would say how handsome he was, and yes, he was indeed.  My dad even boxed at National Level when he was in his 20s for Norway - my dad's favourite sport, boxing! 

Daddy was a very easy-going and patient man with little complains or bad things to say about anybody or anything.  Although he had a quiet demeanour, he was also rather funny with a wicked, dry sense of humour.  Having said that, he was no push-over and was fiercely independent.  Even when he was rather weak in his legs, he refused to allow us to support him.  Chasing us away saying, "I can walk".

In all  my growing up years, I only remembered my dad scolding and using the cloth to discipline me ONCE.  And it was something that I did that was really mischievous.  I attempted to close the ladder my dad was up on by trying to push the lever up that stablilised the ladder. I wanted to see if the ladder could still balance - DUH!!!  Too much cartoons! 

The other day as I turned on the tv, Wheels of Fortune came out.  Immediately, I felt lousy.  This was also 1 of my dad's favourite show and we would sit and watch it together and raced to see who could solve the puzzle first.  My dad loved the tv and he absolutely loves Chinese Period Dramas and all things kung-fu.  At one time, he insisted we call him 'Ah-Teh" (as in cantonese for 阿爹 that people who lived eons ago addressed their fathers).  Of course we refused!  So, that resulted in us calling him 'loh-tao' (老豆).

In whatever ways he could, my dad indulged in us.  In the days where most parents (when we were growing up in the early 70s) frown on drinking Ribena or anything sweet, my dad insisted that we had a glass each day, drank milk (didn't matter it was chocolate or regular), ice-cream at our discretion and the insistance of eating his homemade cucumber vinegar salad.  Obviously, we preferred the other stuff.  Oh, how I miss my dad's pancakes!  I can still remember the smell and taste.  A few years back, I asked him to make them but he has forgotten how to.  I believe I can recreate it. :) 

As kids, we loved the meatballs my dad made!  It was so yummy especially when it was hot and just out of the pan with a slight crisp at the sides.  I particulary didn't like them soaked in the brown sauce.  So, my dad will keep these aside for me whenever he cooked.  Then, it came a time when we didn't want to eat his meatballs cos he was so fired-up about experimenting.  Brown sauce is good on its own, well, maybe with a dash of spice is still acceptable.  But we really pulled on the brakes when he was throwing in things like sesame oil, 5 spice powder, chilli powder and whatever he could get his hands on in the kitchen!  Is this how the phrase, 'cooking up a storm' came about?  Haha! Quite a comic character at times!!

An engineer by training and profession, he was quite a prefectionist (maybe i got some of it from my dad) and did everything methodically and was fastidious about putting things back in their places.  He was even like this up until just before he passed on.  Whenever Kimi was near, he would always remind him to put it back where he took it from.  Of cos, my little one never does.

I remembered as my dad was getting on in years, he suddenly became the most kay-po person around.  Instead of his usual quiet self, he wanted to know everything!  Even when my aunty or friend called, he would asked what they wanted and wanted to know everything we chatted! Haha!  It sometimes became rather exasaperating.  Oh, and I remembered when hb and I were dating, he refused to allow me to chat with any other boys on the phone!!  He would be rather curt with them.  He emphasized that I shouldn't fool around.  But, these were truly platonic good male friends!  Well, that's my dad. :) 

And who says that men don cry?  I say that real men do!  As macho as he is, my dad has such a soft side to him and he would part freely with his money to anyone with a sob story.  There were a few times where I saw tears glistening in my dad's eyes whenever he is told a of a sad situation or someone going through a rough patch or an animal that is suffering.  He is just so rich in his emotions.  A lovely man I would say my dad was.

Kimi brought him much joy the last few years and he was always happy to see Kimi.  Kimi, being more affectionate than most kids never fail to kiss and hug Grandpa when prompted and enjoyed hanging out with Grandpa.  It was heartwarming to see Kimi sharing his food with Grandpa ever so often.

Kimi and Grandpa enjoying ice-cream at Ikea 2 months back
In the last few weeks, besides God, Kimi was a great comfort to me.  It's a wonder how attuned he is to me and my feelings.  The other day, I was sitting at the sofa and suddenly I just felt sad.  Kimi was playing on the floor with his Lego and Playmobil and he suddenly sprang up and asked me if I was sad.  He then asked is it cos I missed Grandpa.  I told him yes and he said so innocently, coming close and sitting next to me with his hands on my hair, "Don't be sad, ok mama".  And the other day, he told me, "Grandpa passed away already.  Don't worry, I will take care of you".

I know as the days come, I will see more and more things that will remind me of daddy and it will sadden me but these are also memories that are so precious that sometimes I feel afraid that I will forget. I think when someone passes on, the thing that we fear most is not able to remember how they sound and look. But, I am comforted that daddy is safe in Jesus' hands and we will meet again in God's Kingdom.  Bye Loh-Tao, we love you and you will be missed!


Lia Chen said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad Tona! But he left a lot of good memories to you and your family. Most importantly he is now in a good place :)

tona-mama said...


Tks for your comforting words. Yes, God has revealed that my dad is in His hands. God is good and all the time!

Cuisine Paradise said...

Take care sis. I am sure he will always be living in your heart and one day we will all meet each other in Heaven again and till then you can give him a big hug.......:)

Angeleyes said...

Oh dear! I feel so bad and sad after reading about your dad's passing Tona! May he rest in peace!

I hope you, your mom and sis are doing well after your dad is gone. I know how bad it feel when someone so close leave us without a proper good-bye.

tona-mama said...

Ellena - Yes, tk u sis!

Angeleyes - Tk u. We are still adjusting and grieving but I also know that I must move on and I hope I can get them too. The Joy of the LORD is my strength!


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