May 12, 2015

Bye, pa


Ezra Loke
Beloved husband and father
November 30, 1940 - May 11, 2015

What do I say about my dad? How do I compress a lifetime of thoughts and feelings into just a few minutes? I’m afraid that hard as I try, I will come up short.

My earliest story about him was the fact that he took time off to wait for my birth, but the stubborn girl I was, I waited till he absolutely had to go to a meeting outstation before making my appearance. As mom tells it, his first question on the phone call wasn’t if I was a girl or boy. That didn’t matter to him at all. Nope… what mattered was that I had 10 fingers and 10 toes and most importantly, he wanted to know if I had his nose.

While he wasn’t always available, due in part to pastoring churches outstation, I had no wants. I've thought on this subject for quite a while and I can’t come up with an instance where he’s ever said no to me. It could be something as simple as mentioning about trying my hand at getting Computer certification… this was trying, mind you, just to see if I’d like it, or something bigger like buying a laptop, or going to school in the US, or putting a down payment on a car, his response was always the same. “OK, do it!” It didn’t matter the cost, it was always, “OK, do it."

Dad loved us above all, but as a product of his generation, he was very reserved. One of the funniest moments was when I said “love you” to him over the phone. His response? “Thank you.” I told mom later that that was the weirdest response ever and boy, was I shocked and surprised when the next time I said “love you” he said, “love you too.” This was years and years ago, and has been our ritual to end phone calls ever since. The last 2 visits to the US, he teared up each time before leaving. Those tears broke my heart more than anything else has ever done… till now.

One of my most cherished memories was him staying up past 11pm the first time I went out with a group of friends as a teenager. Dad was an early bird, you see, and that meant that he was always in bed by 9pm, but that night and the night before I got married, were the 2 nights he didn’t keep to his schedule. I remember asking him why he was still up the night before my wedding, and he said “yow tit mm se tuk” (a little hard to let go). I had teased him about how he shouldn’t be since after the wedding his son-in-law would be staying in his house for another week instead of his daughter leaving.

Dad was always cool and collected, even in the face of imminent danger as scary as Disneyworld rollercoaster rides. His was always the only peaceful face on the pictures captured by the ride cameras. He was a pillar of strength with a spine of steel. There was nothing he couldn’t do once he’s set his mind to it. With stage 4 cancer that had invaded his prostate, bones, spinal cord, lungs, and brain, he was still driving outstation for sermons and carrying boxes of books… God’s work was that important to him.

I am the person I am today because of dad and mom. They taught me to have faith that surpasses all understanding to always rely on God as my refuge and strength.

Dad carried my graduation picture in his wallet. Mom used to tease him that it was the only girl’s picture he ever carried in his wallet. I know he was proud of me and I’m proud of him. I’m proud to be his daughter and I will miss him terribly.

Bye for now, pa. Till I see you again, “love you."