My beloved Dad, I call him Papa, is someone I love and respect very much.
The older I get, the more I realise how truly blessed I was to have had someone like him to look up to when I was growing up. So seeing that it’s Father’s Day tomorrow, I thought it would be appropriate to share three important life lessons I’ve learnt from him.
1. Believe in yourself: You are your most important supporter.
Despite coming from extremely humble beginnings, my dad has always had an incredible drive to make something of himself.
Even in the early years of his life, he already had to endure numerous challenges. Being the youngest of four children and raised by a single mum in the 50s, he remembers his childhood and teenage years as being extremely tough and filled with struggle after struggle.
Without a father figure to look up to or to mentor him through life’s ups and downs (my grandfather passed away suddenly when my dad was only a newborn, so he sadly never got the chance to know his own father), my dad learned to become independent from a very young age. He never allowed his circumstances to bring him down, though. He worked odd jobs and learned different skills on the go once he completed high school.
Although life wasn’t kind to him, he somehow always had the inherent belief that no matter what you face in life, you are able to overcome every hurdle only if you believe that you can. And if you do this you will be able to achieve whatever it is you put your mind to. So he put this belief into practice until he eventually succeeded in starting his own business - which is still operating to this day.
2. Always help others who are less fortunate in any way you can.
Having dealt with so many struggles and financial difficulties in his early years, my dad always empathised with those who are less fortunate. I remember this particular story that he had once told me: he had just gotten his first proper job at an established company, and one day he stumbled upon a very ill, homeless elderly man on his way home from work. When he saw the man, he heard this voice from within (which he learned later on was most probably God’s voice) telling him to help this man and to bring him to a hospital. My dad didn’t even think twice – so using what little savings he had at the time, my dad followed his instinct and brought this man to the nearest hospital to get treated, and promptly took care of all his medical bills.
Since that incident, there has been countless times growing up where I’ve witnessed myself all the good deeds that my dad has done, all the people he has helped, and the people whose lives he had help change for the better. Because of his tough childhood and upbringing, my dad always taught me that no matter how little you have, there will always be someone else you can help. Use what you have to give back wherever possible, and never ever expect anything in return. The feeling you will get from knowing that you’ve made an impact in someone’s life, will outweigh any kind of accomplishment you can earn in this world.
Ironically, my dad has a very intimidating face and presence, and those who don’t know him personally may mistake him for a heartless business man - but inside, I know without a smidgeon of a doubt that he has the biggest, kindest heart, and I’m very proud to call him my dad.
3. Some people will take advantage of your generosity, but don’t let it turn you into a bitter person. Always choose kindness and forgiveness over payback.
It is sadly an inevitable fact that there will always be people who will misuse your kindness and take advantage of it for their own benefit. My dad has definitely had his fair share of this over his lifetime. But instead of letting these betrayals and disappointments turn him into a bitter person, he never stopped trying to help as many people as he can, and he remains generous and open to everyone he meets.
Never treat kindness as a weakness, he always says. You will find more peace from letting go.
I have to admit that I am still lacking in this area. Truly forgiving those who have done you wrong (ie. really well and truly letting go and not holding grudges) takes a lot of strength, and my dad is a true example of this virtue.What I took away from my Dad's point of view is this:
When you remain kind in an unkind world, good things will come your way and you will always have peace of mind.
So there you have it, three life lessons (out of many) that my Papa has taught me. I hope they resonate with you and provide some comfort in whatever it is you’re dealing with right now.
Here’s to all the dads, granddads, single dads, stepdads, foster/adoptive dads, single mums who have had to step into the role of a dad, soon-to-be-dads, and all the other father figures. Happy Father’s Day to you, I hope you have a wonderful day this Sunday and that you never forget how truly important you are.
To those who are grieving the loss of their dads, I’m thinking of you and sending you lots of love this weekend. It will be a hard day, and I know your heart is hurting, but hold on to those precious memories and the happy moments you shared together. I’m sure he is watching over you every single day.
And to my own Dad:
Thank you for everything, Papa, you will forever be my biggest role model. Happy Father’s Day, I love you with all my heart.