Taking a break from processing my thesis data, I thought I’d write something in my blog today.
As I steadily and wearily move towards the end of my Masters program (I’m due to finish in mid-February 2012), somehow it makes me think about Papa again. I have made many posts here about his way of loving the children, by showing off our achievements to other relatives and friends, and not through direct words of encouragement or affection. All of the children grew up with that kind of love. We were conditioned to cherish such display of paternal love, no matter how unusual when seen through western point of view.
I can remember when I surprised Papa and Mama in 1994, by coming home to Indonesia for Christmas. I was a student in Adelaide then and I conspired with my sister who at that time financed my study, to allow me to go home for Christmas and surprise the family. Papa and Mama were still taking care of the family’s shop at that time and I can vaguely remember the pleasant shock on their faces. In no time, there were long-time customers asking them, “So is this the one who’s studying in Australia?” – sellers who set up their stalls in front of the shop also seemed to know about me. I used to be totally embarassed by such an attention from perfect strangers and grumpily asked him why he had to tell everybody about what I had done. Some of my siblings also shared the same irritations. What can I say? Papa was very proud of the children.
I miss his voice, proudly showing off about my finishing Masters to the relatives, and I can also imagine him trying to appear innocent and yet purposefully tell them that I may be continuing to PhD. I miss his croaky voice at the end of the phone, asking me whether I’m taking care of my health. I miss him. Towards the end, his memory wasn’t as sharp as he used to – and although I wish I could have been there when he departed, I am thankful that I didn’t witness him at his weakest point. As I posted before here, I got to remember him at the fullest of being him, even when he was wheelchair-bound, upset because we scolded him for eating too much. He was still Papa – grumpy, proud, and strong-headed.
I know that he’s proud of me. I know that I don’t need to crave for his approvals now – I just wish I could hear him talk about me, or even about any of the other children, or grandchildren to others. I wouldn’t chide him for doing so – I would smile and understand that it was his way of telling us that he loved us. It’s a classic case of “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. I wish I could see the proud smile of his face that after all the hard work that he had done, raising eight children with Mama – he did alright.
It was his show of love, and I miss him.