44743615The last three things I did for my father while he was alive were these:

I gave him a shave (with an electric shaver).
I helped to exercise his right arm (someone else did the left).
I kissed him.

Of course when I did those things I had no idea that they would be the last things I would be doing for him. I was planning to see him the next day. I was asking him to look forward to coming home. He had been in hospital close to three months already. But the Lord had other plans. Dad would by pass coming home to his earthly home. No more detours. He would go home to his Lord. At 3.20pm, October 15th, 2003.

The thing is I wasn’t supposed to be home this week. I had planned to come home to see him two weekends ago. But I had come down with a very bad flu. This brief trip home was meant to replace that trip. I had no idea it would be such a crucial visit. Talk about divine timing.

Dad had had congestive heart failure for some time now. Every operation for his gangrenous foot put him at risk. He had also contracted pneumonia in hospital. He had almost died. He was 81. He was weak. We were to be prepared for anything. Any time. But I have discovered that death, whenever it comes, is always a surprise.

Right now I am very tired. So much to be done. And we are a small family. Not that many hands to share the load. There is still the wake tonight (16th Oct) and the funeral service tomorrow. I know the full impact of dad’s going is yet to come.

But as I prepare dad’s eulogy, one recent encounter comes to mind. In one of my recent visits home, dad was detailing where all his things were. He apologized that he had so little money to leave to us.

I told him that his legacy to us was far more precious than money. He taught us about unconditional love. He taught us by giving it to us. He taught us that people were to be valued for who they were not for what they can do.

Dad was no scholar. He only had the equivalent of O levels by way of formal education. He was not driven by big ambitions. He had no big plans. He just wanted to make people happy. And he did.

Dad never considered himself as ”spiritual” person. Rumour hath it that he joined his church because he was interested in one of the girls there. He didn’t get the girl. But Christ got him.

People would probably call him a ”nominal” Christian. He considered himself a back-bencher in the church. But unconditional love — if that is not spiritual, what is?

As friends and family call up, or drop by, many recall this special person who blessed them, who made them laugh, who helped them wherever he could. That’s spiritual enough for me.

One of the prices of growing up is the discovery that your parents are not perfect. Hey, who is?

But he was my papa. And he gave me unconditional love. And much, much more.

I will miss him.

Your brother, SooInn Tan