My father is quite old, past 80 but still extremely lean and active.
He takes walks daily, though long retired, he had a routine from the very first day he was done with working altogether.
I don’t live with him, I was the first child to move out, way back in my twenties. He is on his own now..but..I’ll come to it, maybe.
As far back as I can remember, he walked all the time. He was a clerk in a shipping company, accounts clerk to be exact, till he retired..those were the days of loyalty to company.
When we moved to the kampong (after being chased out of my grandfather’s house by my step grandmother)..as in my past post, city kids into kampong kids. My earliest memory was he used to come home from work, take a shower (mum’s cooking up dinner), he’d go take a walk through the village. Sometimes we kids will follow, as far as I can recall, my sister and me. I remember our wooden rented kampong house (without walls), past the village well, up between rows of shop houses, across a stream that runs through it, and, backtrack all the way home. There was a dwarf in my village, each time we pass by the house and if the dwarf stepped out, my sister, the baby, would cling to my Dad’s leg and cry..too young to understand.
Later, in the name of progress we moved into the Toa Payoh, the 1st satellite town in Singapore. (As a matter of fact Queen E 2 came to Singapore in the 70s and that was one of her stop.) He kind of kept up to the same routine, home from work, shower, take a walk and back home for dinner. By that time we were bigger and lazier, or perhaps busier with school assignments…don’t remember walking with him around the the blocks of apartments.
Fast forward, a couple of years back I asked my dad about his walking habit. He did not mention the past when he was younger but immediately he told me (with a smile!), this was years later and I guess he has worked out all his emotions. He walked a lot because of my mum! They got divorced when we were in Toa Payoh, I was still young, I remember one of my first thought when they were first separated I was like oh dear, who’s going to show my how to work the sanitary pad when I start?! He said he walked all the way home from work (Shenton Way) to home (Toa Payoh).
He also mentioned that he used to walk with Mum after we all had dinner..don’t remember that…
It is a very long story, they separated and then mum came back (I got my period so finally she was there to tell me what to do)..they stuck it out for some years, trying to make it work, then mum decided to pack her bags and left..for good.
The strange part was after they were divorced, they became friends again quite quickly…
At the time they were divorced, I was the terrible teen..I did not stay home many times and no one was gong to tell me what to do. My sister told me later (she being too young to run wild) Dad cried alot and collapsed one night and my brother and her got to hold him up, he also got drunk…then he pulled himself together, had a distant aunt to come cook for us and learnt how to cook from our neighbour..that’s how the food was put on the table.
So that was how we got by…it is very patchy for me because I was like everywhere and I had no shortage of friends to bunk in with.
Soon after that I moved out…I got tired of my brother who was always bad tempered when I came back late. Besides, I just wanted to be independent, no one to answer to.
As I said, after the storm, my dad and mum became friends quite quick. Mum got re-married to a man, a couple of blocks away. Soon after Dad retired, one of the first trip he made was with mum, her new husband, my sister and her husband, to a European world wind trip. Thereafter, we have always had dinners together (this weird extended family of mine), CNY reunion dinners together, there was zero animosity and that is a pretty unusual set up.
Now, some weeks back, I took the bunch of old folks..obviously I’m busy working by now, but I do put into my schedule every week or 2 to see my mum and/or take the whole bunch of oldies out for dinner, car drive..whatever I have time for. That would include Dad, Mum + husband + domestic help). What happened, as I observed, is my Dad still loves my Mum (I think). My mum is no longer her svelte self obviously, as she settled into the car’s front seat, she complained about the seat being too close to the dashboard. At the first stop, Dad rushed out to try to shift her seat back…imagine that.. I was vaguely piqued.
Then I realised that every stop, he hurry out to hold the door open for her or close after her..you have to remember my Dad is still very nimble and my mum is like overweight 😦
I kind of realised I have more in common with my Dad than I thought..I just don’t hold onto the nasty pasts. I forget easily. I hold on to love and memories. Silly to most, but, please, there is nothing special about me..its just in my DNA.