I was 3 years old. The nightmare was scary. A parrot screeched. I screamed. I awoke to hear my Dad’s soothing voice. He quieted me. He lifted me from my bed; carried me in his strong arms. I remember him walking around the house with me. I was comforted. When he brought me back to my bed, I fell into a deep peaceful slumber.
I was 9 years old when he burst into my room one day. “The cat’s having kittens’ he announced. I rushed out to join in the fun. ‘April Fool’ he yelled; a wide grin on his Daddy face. He got me!
I was 12 years old. He picked me up after my weekly Girl Guides event. We got home to find Mum in the midst of a meeting. He signalled to me. ‘Let’s get back in the car’. I complied. Off we went to the popular Zellers Cafe up the road. He bought me a Knicker Bocker glory Ice cream. It was a tall mountain of an Ice cream - and.I couldn’t finish it. He laughed at me; he teased me. I felt loved.
I was a teenager. My Dad and I took long walks along the beach. The sun was hot on our necks and sweat dribbled down. The beach was alive. The sea air refreshed me. We returned late morning for breakfast with glad hearts and strong limbs. I so enjoyed those long walks with Dad. They birthed in me a love of nature and a love of walking which has lasted to this day.
I was 28 years old when I walked up the aisle with him on my wedding day. I was 33 when he first met my 9 month old son. My baby and he bonded rightaway; the start of a unique friendship. I was 39 years old when Dad waved us goodbye as we left for foreign shores. He didn't stop us from pursuing our dreams. He let us go with a smile. What a Dad!
I was 47 years old. Dad became sick. I called him at once, concerned. The love in his heart echoed through the phone. Hello Dhu’. He was very ill – awaiting the ambulance that would take him to hospital for the last time. But even in his weak state, he was concerned about everyone else. “How’s Shan? How’s Asela?” he asked eagerly. I said: “I love you Thatha”. His last words to me: ‘I love you Dhu’ in the soft caring voice I loved so much.
Today, 18th August 2015, it’s 10 years since he left us. My memories of Dad are as warm as the springtime, as clear as a baby's eyes. My heart fills with joy as I remember with pride the wonderful Dad that he was. He made time for each of his seven. He was a man for every season. He was my Father.
My Dad knew how to do life. Two words stand out when I think of Dad. Gentleness and Integrity. He taught us how to live by the way he faced life. With courage. With discipline. With perseverance. With love for his fellowman. His deep love for Mum gave us children security. He and my Mum did much to bless the community. But it didn't prevent them from being wholly involved in our lives. How did they do it? It remains a deep mystery as to how they found time for all they did. But they did. They did. And I am so very grateful.
Dad was a Director of the Associated Newspapers of Sri Lanka. When the government took over the company, he challenged the takeover, defending freedom of speech. When the takeover went through, he resigned from the Board on principle. It must have been very sad for him to leave a company which was like a second home to him and where he'd invested a great deal of his time and energy. He never complained. Never sat around feeling sorry for himself. He just got busy finding work. He used his skills and expertise for the good of others.
It's hard to write only a short blog about him because there is so much to say. After he died, person after person, some we didn't even know shared with us about the positive difference he'd made in their lives. Dad loved to take photographs. He was an avid gardener. He was modest and unassuming. In his eightees, he'd walk the pavements near his home with sandwiches and tea for homeless people. Yes, there is much to share about my Dad.
I was 48 years old. Two months after Dad had passed away. Mum called us excitedly. She’d found a surprise in a secret drawer. A letter for his 7 children to be opened after he died. It was the best gift I've ever received. It expressed the love and pride my Dad felt for his ‘Magnificent Seven’. He said that Mum and his 7 children were his greatest blessing. I cried so much reading that letter. It still chokes me up as I gaze on his handwriting; as I soak in all the love and pride it contains.
I was 55 years old. Going through a difficult season. One that was fast becoming too tough to handle. I was close to giving up. And then… and then…. I stumbled on Dad’s letter. He told us in no uncertain terms how proud he was of us. He said he was impressed by the way we faced problems and adversity, seeking the positive every time. It was exactly what I needed to hear .
My Dad believed in me.
My Dad believed in me.
My Dad believed in me.
I didn’t give up. I finished the task I’d begun. I did it well. My Dad would have been proud of me. Today, I give thanks and praise to my Heavenly Father for the unique earthly Dad he gifted me with. A man who lived 90 inspiring years. Who pointed me to my Heavenly Father. Who impacted and helped countless others. His clan comprises today of his wife, his 7 children and their 7 spouses, 11 grandchildren and their 4 spouses, 1 fiancé, 5 great grandchildren. That makes 37 and still counting.
The legacy he left for us, his children is very precious. His example says it all:
To love God and to love others.
To live life with integrity, purpose and passion.
To work hard.
To persevere through life’s challenges.
To reach out and help my fellowman.
To love my family.
To be gentle and fun loving.
To be kind.
To read widely.
To appreciate creation.
To be a lifetime learner.
To become the best I could be.
His letter ended with these words:
“And so as I pass on, I wish each of you, together with your life companion, long one of us, continuing and greater strength on your spiritual journey, deriving from within you, from outside you as available and always from the Source of inspiration, Above. May you always seek and receive God’s grace and blessings, Your loving Thatha.
Today dearest Thatha, I dedicate my blog to you. I am proud to be called your daughter. With God’s help, I will aspire to live the best I can, so I might leave a similar legacy for my son. I love you Thatha and I always will.
I look forward to seeing you again in heaven; the lovelight shining in your eyes and in mine.
"The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him."