Happy belated birthday, Dad! Yesterday was your birthday. You’d be 105 by now, right? Sadly, I never got to know you better. I have recollections of you as a doting but strict father but as I approached 10 years of age, it seems the marriage with Mama was not working, Like most kids would, I guess I sided with her, then you and I naturally grew distant. After the divorce when I was approaching my early teens, you returned to Thailand to be with your family again. We didn’t really keep in touch, did we? Pity that joint custody is not very common in Japan even now.
The last time I saw you I was 19 years of age when I visited Bangkok during my summer break at uni in London. Though a bit awkward at first, I did enjoy that wonderful street food dinner with you, just you and me. Talking about my studies in college and all the travelling around Europe which you said you had always dreamed of doing when you were my age. You were happy for me that I’m doing well, and I was happy that you moved on, back in your home country enjoying your days with your adorable grandchildren. “Thank you for dinner”, I said in the end. And you replied, “Don’t thank me, you’re my daughter”. Those words I’ll never forget. But mom got very upset when she found out I had gone out with you and started arguing with you. Perhaps it was a bad idea meeting up, I thought. I didn’t want to upset my mother. And that was the last I saw of you.
If only I had given you the chance for a reconciliation. If only I was strong enough to defy my mother’s wishes, but I felt I had to respect them. If only I hadn’t procrastinated and looked for excuses not to get in touch. Years went by, decades went by but I was “too busy” to get around to planning a trip to Thailand. Friends and acquaintances have suggested that I look you up before too late. I should have listened. It’s too late now, and I’m ever so sorry, dad.
But I never forgot your birthday. Every 11 July I’d be telling myself, “Hey today is dad’s birthday!”. So I’m raising a toast to you and thinking about the father I had missed out on having all these years. Who knows what a different life we would have had if we were there for each other. All I wanted was a loving father who would protect me, laugh and cry together even when I made you mad for being an unruly daughter. I would have learned a lot from you too. But regret and holding grudges are not good. Learn from mistakes, move on and look to the future but never forget the wonderful memories. I think you would have told me that.
Enjoy your big day, Papa! And I hope you like this little pastel/charcoal drawing I made for you. You remember I loved drawing and scribbling on paper don’t you?
With lots of hugs and love
Your daughter xxx