Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tribute to my dear old dad (repost)

My father in 1981, en route to Melbourne for bypass surgery


Lee Hong Wah was born May 1st, 1916, in Johore Baru, the fifth of six siblings. In his youth he played saxophone and drums in a ragtime combo. He also rode around on a BSA motorcycle and kept a pet cockatoo, which perched nightly on his bedstead (and was trained to turn around and shit on a newspaper).

When I was 12 my brother Lanny bought me a cockatoo which I promptly named Kiki, after the cockatoo that often appeared in Enid Blyton's Famous Five stories. In the early 1970s I bought a 1948 BSA from a friend and often rode it to work (although it was a bitch to kickstart). A friend named Arthur Lam gave me his drum kit and I used to bang away on it, driving the neighbors crazy. Another friend donated an ancient alto sax to me and I was able to play avant-garde jazz stylings on it (à la John Coltrane).

Only much later did I realize how much like my dad I actually am. The main difference between us was that I decided to grow a mustache when I was 19 - and he was cleanshaven throughout his life. I also took up smoking (like my mother) when I was 15, while my dad never went anywhere near tobacco (and thus never discovered the dubious delights of potsmoking).

Dad always wore his hair short and greased it down with Brylcreem. As soon as I could, I let my hair grow long and hated the feel of greasy kid stuff.

Like my dad, I can sit in one spot quite contentedly for hours. But unlike him, I'm not particularly handy with tools and household repairs.

And, like my dad, I have always been a keen worshiper of the Sacred Feminine. He enjoyed photographing his girlfriends in the nude (with a Kodak Brownie camera he borrowed from me, taking care to develop and print the negatives himself). When he was in his mid-eighties, he fished out his secret photo album and enjoyed watching me gasp in astonishment at his many "conquests."

"Where did you find the time to date so many women?" was all I could ask, marveling at how my dad had mastered the art of "camwhoring" 50 years before digital cameras became the rage.

I've opted to share a few of the more "discreet" photos here because the girls are probably all grandmothers by now... or a few might even have left the planet. If any of you happen to recognize any of the pretty ladies in these photos, please leave a comment or email me. I would love to know a bit more about them. After all, they all loved my father.

Lee Hong Wah was a simple down-to-earth man who enjoyed life and good food and beautiful women. Even on his deathbed, he was flirting with the nurses - and with one of his nieces-in-law who visited him almost daily in hospital. Yet he managed to stay happily married to my mother for nearly 60 years.

Around dawn on 14 October 2004, whilst he was being sponged by several pretty nurses, my father breathed his last. I'm sure there was a real sweet smile on his face.

[First posted 1 May 2010, reposted 2 May 2014]



16 comments:

masterwordsmith said...

An exquisitely beautiful and sentimental piece, Antares. Thanks for sharing. May your dad mom rest in peace always.

LC Teh said...

... like any dad-worshiping son...

Monyet King said...

Beautifully, beautifully written, Antares. May your dad rest in peace.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

It's probably nothing but my mom's 75th birthday is also today.

So

Me and Ahau
My mom and your dad

LOL

adam said...

Hi uncle Ant. I read every word of it. Very sweet :) And it's true about how we are like our father (for better or worse).. I remember telling my dad how much I actually resemble him and he finds it amusing (in a cynical way)

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Since May is the official remember thy parents month, let's take this moment to honour the glorious mix of souls that spawned us. That and transfer that grace to the future.

selvaraja somiah said...

Wow Bro cool! excellent piece, what a nice way to remember DAD! You never fail to impress me la. May your DAD rest in peace always.

Pat said...

Wherever you dad is now, Ant, he's smiling at you, and so proud of the beautiful man he calls son.

Mwah!

Rebecca said...

A TOAST to Granpa! I celebrate the great husband, father and grand-dad he was to us! To me, he was always the great philosopher, teacher and pacifist. What I will always treasure is the memory of how he had stood lovingly by and caring for my Granma for 60 years, right through to the very end.- How the very last thing Granma communicated to him was a "Victory" sign after surviving her last surgery prior to succumbing to the post-op sedatives. Fitting, for the one woman who won and held his heart for Life! - not hers, but HIS.

moses said...

Ahh the good old days with no fear of syphilis, Hepatitis and such..

Antares said...

Moses, it's been hundreds of years since I heard of anyone getting syphilis... and decades since anyone even mentioned the word "herpes." When I was a kid people used to whisper about the dreaded disease called "VD" - which I later learnt referred to either gonorrhea or urinary tract infection. Even the AIDS scare appears to have receded into the background. Some folks will try any sort of scare just to spoil other people's fun. How long did it take you find the Promised Land?

Tea Tagerbaf said...

I'm agree with Pat, he has to be really proud of you, of his son. Thanks for let us read your.
Muak!! Mua!

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Goddess Linda said...

Thank you for this, Antares!

Marina Roseman said...

Beautiful Antares. You have carried so much of him in with you into the world, and this tribute carries the rest.

Antares said...

Thanks, Linda & Marina :) My dad was a real cool dude. When I broke the news that he was going to be a grandfather, he didn't say a thing. He just thought for a minute, drumming his fingers on the dining table; then he asked me to help him carry my single bed out and replace it with a double bed. Ever the practical problem solver! :)