My Father worked for the British Army as foreman in the Singaporean motor vehicle department. He was very British in many ways, especially when it came to the English language- the proper use of the Queens English. After immigrating to Canada he was constantly surprised at our use of the English language, especially in Canadian newspapers. This was definitely not the Queens English!
My father had ten kids and as a child, I admired his keen interest and personal investment in our education. He always read my English Literature books as soon as we got the list from school. He finished them before me and then we would discuss the plot or characters. He was well-read, educated and had his finger on the pulse of world politics and culture. It was important to him that his kids appreciated what was going on both locally and internationally.
My father was a globetrotter – I vividly remember waiting with my mom and sisters and brothers at the port of Singapore for his ship to arrive, bringing him home from a hunting trip in India. My parents were always travelling. When I graduated from Simon Fraser University, they made their first trip to Canada and my father loved it here. What struck me as really cool was when my dad explained how they travelled across Europe to get to my graduation. He showed me their “World Trip” travel ticket – I had never seen anything like it before. It meant my parents could stop and visit any country in the world, and they had chosen to visit me! His love for traveling grew on each of his kids; perhaps that why we are now spread out around the globe.
It was his worldly philosophy that I admired most. I once asked him about religions and his explanation still makes a lot of sense. He told me “Religions differ, but ultimately their destination is the same. Different religions are different modes of transportation to the same place – some travel by bus, some cycle, others drive but they all get there in the end.” Because of my father’s open-mindedness, I got to experience Midnight Mass with our Christian neighbours, celebrated Vesak Day with my Buddhist peers and Eid with my Muslim friends. Embracing other cultures is such a delicious experience (and not just because of the tasty international foods!).
I am also grateful to him for honing seva, the concept of selfless giving, into each of his kids. In Sikhism, seva refers to selfless service for altruistic purposes on behalf of, and for the betterment, of a community. This is where worldly treasures lie.
When my dad retired, he would often leave home early and take the bus to the law courts in downtown Singapore. He enjoyed spending the morning listening to interesting court cases, then pop off to visit his friends or meet tourists and strangers in town. It was not unusual to come home to find guests that my father brought for dinner (and sometimes longer). While I was studying in Canada, my mom told me about the tourist my father invited to live in our home because he had his briefcase stolen. The tourist had lost everything, including his money and passport. My mom said that my dad took him to the city every morning to sort things out at the embassy; that is seva.
I am grateful for his influence and perspective. He showed me the true meaning of abundance. Here is how you can capture it.
What is one perspective from an important man in your life that you are grateful for this Father’s Day?
All my best for a beautiful season,
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