Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy Father's Day


June is a significant month for fathers and those who have acted as father figures: stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, big brothers, teachers and mentors.
It is the month when some countries including Malaysia celebrate Father's Day.
As American poet Anne Sexton put it: "It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was."
My own father, who was a major influence in my life when I was growing up in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, passed away a long time ago.
Since then there has been one major father figure in my life: my mentor, who is also my uncle, and he has helped me through difficult times.
Fathers teach by example.
You learn important values from them and you acquire some of their tastes for things.
It could be anything: a love for English literature, words and books, among others.
Sometimes you did not agree with their viewpoints but realised later that they were right about many things.
As a child, growing up in a hometown known for its laid-back ways, my father seemed like a walking encyclopedia: he knew everything, for example, the spelling of difficult words and why prayers were important.
I didn't always agree with him but thought it wise to remain silent.
Then I moved out of our family home to start life at university in another town.
New faces, new surroundings and lots of excitement.
I thought I owned the world until trouble hit me and my father came to my rescue.
That would happen several times in my life as a young adult.
Do Fathers know best?
I would say mine did, and with the benefit of hindsight I now see where I went wrong.
These days I find myself recalling his pearls of wisdom of which there are numerous.
New York writer Margaret Truman expressed it in the following manner: "It's only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home -- it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love."
That is so true!
Like Mother's Day, the celebration honouring mothers, Father's Day is an excellent way to bring family members together.
It is a time to reaffirm our commitment to our family and to reflect on what it means to us.
Some say that families are under threat.
They cite longer working hours, absent parents and divorce as harmful influences that threaten the traditional family.
The United Nations admits that the changing social structure and an ageing population pose a challenge to both families and governments.
Other major trends that affect families worldwide are migration and HIV/AIDS.
Also, consumerism and globalisation have turned luxuries into necessities, forcing parents to work harder for the money because raising children in the consumer culture takes effort.
They built up successful careers but at the expense of neglecting their children.
Not many of us are really free of these issues.
If you are, then count your blessings and examine your own relationship with your family members with a view to improving it.
Do we spend enough time with our families? How often do we visit close relatives who stay in another county? Do we bother to check on older relatives who are ill?
These are uncomfortable questions but they must be asked if only to appease our conscience.
As we gather round our fathers one evening this month to honour them let us also ponder on the family as an institution and why we need to maintain it.
Happy Father's Day!

3 comments:

Liyana said...

I love this post. It has given me some ideas for my article.

FAEZAH ISMAIL said...

thank you so much. i look forward to reading your post.

Anonymous said...

I was blessed with a father who never stopped me from following my heart and allowed me a lot of space to try different things during my childhood days. I can never thank him enough for all the sacrifices he made so that i was never deprived all my life.

O.C. Yeoh