16 June 2031
I happened to meet your Papa in an unusual encounter the other day. We had a long chat and shared about everything under the sun. He told me a lot about the three of you. He said that…
When each of you arrived, neither the sky broke nor did the whole world cheered. It did not snow where he lived either. But, there was a deep sense of incredulousness, contentment and relief in the hospital ward. You made him feel he was at the top of the world. Those were what he and your Mama experienced on each of your arrival.
You are the precious possessions to him and the family. Every day, they would revolve themselves around the three of you. According to him, every ounce of his energy is devoted to protecting, nurturing and developing a lifetime relationship of trust and love with you. He would look forward to come home from work every day. No matter how tiring and tough his day was, looking at you brings a smile on his face. You might not think of it, but you are just so magical. Being a hands-on dad, he wanted to be a huge part in your life right from the beginning and he is glad he did so. You would come to know that except for breastfeeding and cooking, he has done everything else - cut your umbilical cord, changed your soiled diapers almost every time, showered you almost every day, celebrated all your birthdays, held your little hands when you took your first step and being with you on so many other first moments in your life.
Your Papa made the 2nd, 3rd and 4th vow in his life at each of your arrival respectively. The vow is to be the Papa that the three of you can look upon to, to love you unconditionally and more than any man, and also to ensure your safety to his best ability, even at the cost of his life. I would imagine if you fell and had cuts and abrasions on your body, he would feel bad and would not be able to sleep on those days when these incidents happened.
Early growing- up days
Your Papa exclaimed that you grew too fast! When you were more than 2 years old, you were allowed to roam every single space in the house except for the kitchen. You started to have preferences and would want to exert your right at every opportunity possible. You would like to wear your favourite cartoon character shirts so much that you would make a big fuss if you could not find it in the wardrobe or being asked to take them off for laundry. You also started to ask for things and began to say "No" more often to him. You had a varied ways of saying and showing your "No". Continuous screaming at the top of your voice, sometimes accompanied with chest hitting and profusely pulling his shirt while setting your eyes and pointing to the object of desire were a few hallmark behaviours. Your trump card was performing "break dance on the floor". Initially, he was very upset at these outbursts and irrational behaviours. He tried to power over you by shouting even louder and resorted to spanking in the hope to "reset" your behaviour to normal. It took him a while and after many readings to realise that many of those behaviours were beyond your control. He was glad to be enlightened.
Weekends were your favourite time. You would wake him up and drag him to the living room to accompany you to watch your favourite TV programmes – Nick Junior, Disney Channel, etc. You would also affectionately pull his shirt or hands asking him to bring you out after meal times. Most of the time, your requests were acceded to, as he was also as eager as you to spend the entire weekend outdoor with you in the parks, playground, garden, etc. He is happy when you are happy too. The one thing that drove him crazy for the longest period during your early childhood was seeing you girls jumping on the bed and sofa. He did not remember enjoy doing that during his childhood days but he was glad that you would have jumped out of this play without any injuries.
Slowly and gradually, he began to discover the intriguing love among the three of you. Yes, occasionally, you got into fights and quarrels but you would always make up shortly after that, he said. He recalled fondly and said that there would always be one of you who would promptly bring the cane to him when the other siblings got into trouble. After a fight, one of you would always initiate the peace-making deal and he felt assured to see that. He was also all ears at the conversations between you girls during those growing- up days because they sounded just so sweet, kind and innocent.
Sisterhood is a very special relationship. He really hopes that the everlasting love and bond between you sisters will remain eternally.
Love and relationships
You probably wouldn't understand the full meaning of "I love you" until you have grown mature in your twenties and in a long-term relationship. I was told that whenever he says "I love you" and you reciprocate with the same phrase, his heart often melts with a sense of serenity. You also probably didn't know that every time you hold his hands, you would make him feel like a boyfriend on a date. He would always ask if you were tired because he is eager to hug you to sleep. The feeling that he gets when your head rest on his shoulder and his hand over your back has a calming effect for him. It gives him a light tinkering feeling knowing that you are absolutely safe in his arms. He exclaimed protectively that the man who would be worthy for each of you must know that you do not deserve any lesser. He must love you deeply, selflessly and more than himself. For you girls, you must respect yourself and wait patiently without defiling yourself. Save yourself for the marriage and disregard anyone who offers a diametrical view.
Learning and successes
Your official academic journey started when you reached 7 years old. He knew you would be stressful and anxious at the new chapter in your lives. When he was at that stage, your grandparents didn't set the expectation for him to achieve all 'A's in his studies and he turned out to be doing fine later in life. Hence, he said he didn't see the need to impose those standards on you. Instead, he hopes he would have brought you up to enjoy learning as a process, a life-long skill that is 2nd nature to you. If his teaching has turned out well, you would have gotten some notion that the world that we are living in comes with certain harsh realities. He took on as his duty to make you aware and hopefully you could accept the fact that sometimes, the same level of fairness could not be achieved like how he intervened in your fights during your early childhood days, e.g. dividing the same number of sweets, stationery and many objects of desires among the three of you. There would be times when you feel unfairness in a situation that could make your blood boil. The key is to not be overly concerned with what other people think or said or blindly compare yourselves with others. Instead, his advice is to focus on what you currently have, count your blessings and be courageous to work relentlessly hard towards achieving your goals in life. Pursue excellence, not perfection. Remember money is important but not everything. Wealth is absolutely nothing without health. The earlier you can train your thoughts to set your focus on the above, the sooner you would realise that you can actually enjoy and lead a simple and meaningful life that is also filled with happiness at the same time. He added, it is of utmost importance to do the right things right and fulfill our duty as an individual in the society with a clear conscience.
Family - kinship that we commonly take for granted and yet remains the most important pillar in our life. Family members can offer comfort, support and motivation to one another with enduring and unconditional love. He wanted me to tell you that when you face with difficulties that seems too much for you to bear, always come home and talk to the family members. He also wanted me to remind you that they will not judge you and love you for what you are and with family support, you will be able to overcome any challenges in life. Trust me and your Papa ;)
Your Papa has already lived for more than half a century. Most likely, you would describe him as myopic, always nagging and forgetful at times but his love for the three of you has never changed the slightest bit from the day he saw your images on the monitor of the ultrasound scanner during your Mama’s health checks during pregnancy.
I hope you can be patient and continue to accept and love him regardless of the conditions that he might be in. I know he will not ask for more either. Believe me, a simple "I love you, Papa" will still make his day even after so many years.
You may wonder how come I seem to understand your Papa and you girls so well. I would know best as I was him, penning this letter 15 years ago.
Learn more about Our FFL Contributor Tan Chin Hock:
Tan Chin Hock is a bit of an adrenaline junkie - a former commando, no less! He is dedicated to empowering and advocating for strong families. With his passion for self-care and healthy living, he leads by example and encourages others to prioritize their family relationships. Through his social enterprise, he aims to inspire and uplift the less resourced communities through photography. Join Chin Hock as he combines his unique experiences and unwavering commitment to promote the importance of strong families and making a positive impact in today's world.
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