Superheroes

Superheroes.

I think everyone’s got one. I also know that everyone thinks superheroes are always invincible, never to get hurt, never to fall and that they will always be there to save the day, no matter what. I thought so too.

My parents are my superheroes.

They gave me life, fed me, changed my diapers and they taught me to walk. They nursed my wounds, fended off boogeyman and wiped off my tears. They still do, now that I’m almost three decades old. They show me life, feed me with their values, take as much crap as I could ever give them, and they teach me how to walk in the light. They have their hands on me as I suffer, protect me from harm and stick around when I cave. Whatever happens, I know they will always be around to love me. Their presence is a comforting permanence, a precious gift in my life.

More than three years ago, M and I had to uproot to London. Our move was made possible with a lot of support from our families, but it was met with hostility, anger, frustration, worries and plenty of resistance from me. I am a naturally worrisome person, and negative thoughts started metastasising in my life and relationships with my family and M.

‘I can’t go at a time like this. I barely worked after graduation. I need to support my family and I want to start giving my parents a good life.’

‘My parents are getting older. What will this move mean? That we can’t plan for children soon after we get married and deny my folks of being grandparents, until we return to Singapore in 5 years’ time?’

‘I don’t want to be away from my family. What if something bad happens to my parents?’

These thoughts, the guilt, wreaked havoc. It was not pleasant. It didn’t help that my beloved grandmother passed away just 2 weeks before I left for London. In a sick, twisted, morbid way, I thought it proved my point. In the earlier years, I blamed every single blip on the move to London and naturally this blame extended to M. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I had chosen to be here with M instead of being home with my family, and that no one forced me to leave. It took me even longer to realise that perhaps, there are good things in store for me here, and this happened only very recently. Life was starting to look up. I was beginning to reap the rewards of being here.

Until this Monday. As I returned home from work, I was taking off my shoes in the corridor when I heard M talking on the phone. Shortly after, he came out to greet me with a grim look on his face. I knew that look, it didn’t make an appearance very often, and the last time it did, it was when my father called him to tell me that my grandmother had left us. My heart froze as M told me to change out of my work clothes before going into the living room. I followed his instructions in a matter of seconds, and there they were, two glasses of water on the dining table, waiting for an unpleasant conversation to simmer over them.

I prodded M, as he tried to get dinner into the oven.

‘What’s going on? What happened? Did something bad happen?’

M kept very quiet as he tried to shove the tray in.

Then I was half-shouting.

‘WHAT HAPPENED? SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED, RIGHT? TELL ME!!’

The tray finally behaved. And he sat down next to me.

Very quietly, the words slipped out.

‘Your father had a heart attack.’

I was in disbelief. My heart stopped, so did my breathing. And then the beats came rushing back in a stampede; the angry, hot tears came.

‘It happened on Thursday when he was at work. He thought it was a gastric refl…..’

I struggled to take M’s words in as he droned on. Every detail felt like a blow, being deliberately and cruelly delivered to the guilt-stricken gut that I have tried so hard to destroy. Thursday? What was I doing on Thursday? My phone didn’t ring, or did it? No, it didn’t. Why didn’t it?

All I could think of was how this could have happened, why no one told me, why no one said anything even when I called home to chat with them over the weekend. When my father got out of ICU on Saturday, I happened to call him to ask what they were up to for the weekend and he told me they were out shopping. I asked him why the background was so quiet and where they were, and he casually said that they were in the car waiting for my mum. Little did I know that he was in the hospital, fresh out of the ICU following a surgery, feeling breathless from the accomodating heart. Even then, he was still trying to be my superhero; he was trying to make sure that nothing was amiss in my sunny world in London on a fine Saturday. He succeeded, I even cheerfully shared that M was taking me to Broadway market. Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why did I even think it was perhaps okay to move to London? Why did I leave? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why Dad?

When I finally calmed down enough to take in the details of what happened, I found myself demanding the prognosis. I forced M to tell me the odds for everything based on the test results, I made him recite what the doctor said to my mum about Dad’s condition. I needed numbers to anchor me, I needed to know if I had to go back. I contemplated moving back to Singapore. I hit the table with my clenched fist.

I was just a daughter dying to get home to see her superhero.

I haven’t been able to sleep since. I had trouble falling asleep, and when I finally did, I would wake up at 4am. I would reach out for my phone to make sure no one has contacted me. I would call my mum to check on how things are going. I reprimanded her for not telling me. I cried with frustration and helplessness when another clot threatened my father’s well-being. I cried when I learnt that tests showed that the clot was gone or not there to begin with. I cried over the phone as I finally spoke to Dad, who sounded so well and healthy and happy and robust that maybe, just maybe, it was all a bad and very belated April Fool’s joke. And there my parents were again, wiping off my tears from more than 6000 miles away.

My superheroes are back. Daddy is back, out of the hoods and hopefully on the road to recovery. I cannot be more thankful to God and his loving ways for looking after him. I cannot be more thankful for a family like mine, my dad, mum, brother, sister-in-law, sister, J and M. Together, loving, close-knitted and united as one. And I cannot be more thankful to all of you who came forward at a time when I seemed to have forgotten how to pray and have faith, who spared a prayer and kept my father in your thoughts. You know who you are, and I am eternally grateful to you.

31 thoughts on “Superheroes

  1. elaineteo

    Your dad is a superhero!! He made it and i m sure he will recover well and soon! Don’t worry babe! Even if u are far from home, but i believe your heart is still closely tie to ur love ones there! =) hugss!!

    Reply
  2. Carrie

    That’s how I felt too when I made the decision to move overseas to work. It’s been 3 years now and I’ve spent every annual leave making trips back to spend time with my family. Sometimes I am envious that I don’t go holidaying like everyone else does but I guess it was my decision to use whatever available time I have to shuttle between countries and ensure I spend whatever time I could afford with my dad and mom.
    Thanks for sharing and I’m sure your decisions are all a blessing in disguise. Good things will unfold… just be patient and take heart!

    Reply
    1. The Pleasure Monger Post author

      Carrie: I’m also saving up my leave for trips home now. We don’t get long holidays here and I only go for vacations when we have long weekends. It was a little easier when I was a student, but now that I’m employed, schedules get less flexible but so far, my bosses have been understanding and have offered me a chance to work in the Singapore office should I need to return to visit my dad, so I’m grateful that I have that option now.

      Reply
  3. Maameemoomoo

    Hugs. Tears just rolled down as I read this post of yours. I know how you feel as I was once in your shoes too. All I can say is, be strong. Be strong for your superhero because that’s how your superhero would want it. And smile babe, smile.. when you see him back home. Give him your best-est sunshine smile ever. xx

    Reply
  4. Joy

    Good to hear that your dad is recovering. Don’t worry, I’m sure your dad being surrounded by your other family members, will never be left alone to deal with such situations. The fact that you still keep close contact with your family even though you are overseas proves just how close and filial you are.

    Reply
  5. bookjunkie

    As I was reading this I felt your pain every step of the way. My heart was breaking for you. Especially the fact that you were so helpless miles away. I just can’t even begin to imagine. I am so so thankful your dad is doing much better now and I am sure he will make a full recovery.

    I can relate, because I lost my dad. And it was a tremendous shock to me. Still find it too hard to talk about the details.

    I then realized that I had taken him for granted, but it was too late for me. He has always been my protector and hero and even now I pine for him…years later. I feel a shadow of my former self and starting the blog was part of the healing process.

    Ever since then, I just remind my cousins to try to talk to their dads more and I tell my uncles to be more open with their kids…and not to treat them still like lil ones and hiding everything from them.

    Just wish I could have just 1 moment with him….just 1 minute so that I could tell him everything that I still long to tell him but can’t. I never directly told him that I love him because in Asian families we don’t do that….but I knew that he loved me, but I still wonder whether he knew how much I love him. Sorry to go on about this…just felt compelled to share.

    Reply
    1. The Pleasure Monger Post author

      bookjunkie: I’m so sorry to learn that you lost your dad. Thank you for sharing with me. Family is indeed so very important, I’m very fortunate to have loving and understanding parents and siblings, and I’ll never trade anything else for them. After reading your story, I wrote an email to my dad and told him that I love him.

      Reply
  6. Jeanne

    I hate the feeling of helplessness, I hope your dad has a speedy recovery! He probably got better faster knowing for you. Best wishes!

    Reply
  7. L

    Any comments from anyone who doesn’t know u or ur family in real life will be inappropriate. But the measure of inappropriateness though personal shld be one of no regrets. If you think it’s impt to fly back to see your dad, jus go. Take things one step at a time. Do not pull out ur past decisions & confuse the current situation. Now is to have your Dad back healthy like before (we pray) and now is to be there, anywhere where the heart resides.

    Reply
    1. The Pleasure Monger Post author

      L: Thank you. I’m keeping my options open still, as I’ve been in touch with my family and everyone says things are going well. I’ve also notified my bosses and have been given the option to return if I need to, so I might plan for a trip back soon.

      Reply
  8. Shirley

    Best wishes to you and your family hun – I know exactly how you feel, especially that I have had to make a similar decision myself for where I will be in the next part of my life. The bond you have with your family is so strong I’m sure your dad feels no less of it even when you are in the UK. And before you know it you will be back by your parents’ side! You are a wonderful daughter I’m sure your dad is super proud of you x

    Reply
  9. Going With My Gut

    Just read this, so sorry to hear about your Dad, and relieved to read that he made it through.

    Big hugs. Am trying to spend proper time with my Mum and Grandma on this trip. Both not well, though both are still tough as nails in spite of their own discomfort. It boggles the mind.

    Thank you for articulating your thoughts and feelings on this so well.

    Wen

    Reply
  10. bookjunkie

    just wanted to send the best wishes to you and your family again

    your parents are so sweet…like all parents they always try to protect us and not matter what age we are🙂 very touched by your post and just want to send you hugs.

    Reply
  11. Simin

    Hi there… i am so sorry to read about this. Pray that your dad gets well really soon. I totally identify with your situation, and I am happy that at least I know that my parents have the rest of our families and relatives around them.

    Reply
  12. eunice

    hey dear.. glad that the storm clouds have moved away and there’s a little sunshine peeking through. i probably can’t even start to empathise what you went through those few days but if u need to speak, vent, cry, shout, u know where to find me.

    Reply
  13. Pingback: I Need A Kick Up My Arse « The Pleasure Monger

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