There is an old Chinese saying that comes to mind about the fleetingness and truth of existence. It is “birth, old age, illness and death”. Almost every “healthy” human goes through each stage, as it’s the natural progression of what we call life.
With deep sorrow, I share with you that after a long and courageous battle against cancer, my beloved dad passed away peacefully three weekends ago. Over the past few weeks, I realize that while my dad has physically left my family and I; his spirit lives on through myself and my family members. He will remain in our hearts forever through the wonderful memories we shared together and the lessons he taught us.
I dedicate this post to my dad, 3 times cancer survivor and my role model. In this post, I would like to reflect upon qualities or values that I greatly admired in and learned from my dad. I call these qualities or values “life lessons”. Thank you in advance for taking your time to read about my dad: a very remarkable, courageous and optimistic man.
In the past 7.5 years, my dad repeatedly demonstrated courage in facing and battling against three types of cancer. Such courage is considerably admirable; every time I accompanied him to chemotherapy or cheered him on at one of his surgeries, he would face these painful sessions head on with a brave countenance. I had never once seen him break down, cry or scream in agony. No matter what situation, he fearlessly met the challenge and difficulty without hesitation or cowardice. Even till his last breath, he faced death without fear; he told us he was ready to go without any regrets.
2. Strength & Resilience
When I mention strength here, I am not talking about physical strength. I am referring to mental and inner strength. In my opinion, strength and resilience are interchangeable. My dad fought valiantly in every single battle against cancer, despite the pain and physical weakness from surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, and later, from the rapid and unstoppable tumor growth. However, he was always resilient in his spirit to recover. I still vividly remember his last surgery (removal of his entire stomach) one year ago: the doctor recommended for him to walk around the hospital ward a few times a day with his walker to regain strength. Although it must have been extremely painful for him to get up after the surgery, dad would walk slowly but steadily around the ward independently, refusing support from any of us. My dad most definitely had the strength and resilience of a warrior.
In the face of bleak truth, dad was still the epitome of optimism. He always believed he would overcome cancer and live a long life. His positive attitude helped him a lot to overcome obstacle after obstacle during the past 7.5 years. He enjoyed reading a variety of magazine articles and books on eating and cooking right to treat and prevent cancer, and then tried them out for himself and his family. Also, he knew leading an active lifestyle would help in battling against cancer. Whenever it was good weather, I would see him happily riding his bike to meet his friends at the local cafe or go grocery shopping. Not one moment did he ever give in to the hopelessness and helplessness of a cancer patient; he continued to live life to the fullest with joy and hope. Every relative, family friend and acquaintance I talked to in the past 3 weeks confirmed what I already knew: dad will forever be remembered as an eternal optimist with a zest for life.
4. Frugality, Generosity, Hard Work & Selflessness
My family and I noticed something quite astounding as we were going through family albums. My dad actually wore the same pair of glasses for almost 25 years! He had these glasses from the day he was in university until I graduated from high school. This discovery really brought home the fact that he was a very simple, kind-hearted man, who found joy in the little things such as working to provide for his family, eating dinner with us, and being creative with reusing recyclable materials. He rarely spent money on himself, except buying himself a cup of coffee and the newspaper to be enjoyed at the cafe. While my dad was frugal on himself, he was always generous with his family and friends, and even strangers. He was the type of person who would give money to strangers with a sob story, without doubting the authenticity.
Since I was a little child, I associated hard work with my dad. He was always working extra hard from Monday to Sunday, to raise my brother and I, so we could have the best of everything. He even uprooted his life in Europe by moving to Canada so his children could have a better future. I believe dad’s simple, hardworking and frugal life is something to look up to, as he was able to raise two successful children and have his own property with his wife in a new country. He built a happy and rewarding life based on the foundations of hard work, selflessness, frugality and generosity.
5. Actions Speak Louder than Words
Dad was raised in a family and culture that did not display affections or express feelings outwardly. As a result, I used to think he was incapable of love. Now I know that his every action showed his immense love and care for his family. For example, he would make me a hot breakfast every morning during the week, and always took care of the maintenance of my car. These thoughtful gestures definitely showed his love for me. From my dad, I have learned that actions speak louder than words; it is a valuable lesson and reminder for me when interacting with people around me.
My dad’s “life lessons” are his legacy for me. My only wish is to be able to live by his example, passing on his legacy, as I continue to grow into the best person I can be, and move forward in life. I am truly honoured and proud to be my dad’s daughter.