Let's Chat - Great Role Models - My Dad

This Monday, 15th April, would have been my dad’s 100th birthday.

My dad (in the UK in the 1950s)

My dad (in the UK in the 1950s)

It’s been almost 20 years since I lost my dad. My mum has passed too; I loved them so very much and I still miss them a lot.

When I was little, as much as I loved my dad, I was also scared of him – he was tall, just over 6ft, and had quite a presence. I guess he came across as strict and no-nonsense because of his responsibilities. He not only looked after us – his wife and 4 daughters – he also looked after my mum’s family. Before I explain how that came about…This is one of the earliest photos I have of my dad, I think he’s about 21 years old.

Papa - ROMC.jpg

My dad started his working life as a parcel clerk in the Malayan Railways. Malaya, part of the British Empire, was still under British rule. Before the outbreak of WW2, he joined the Railway Operating and Maintenance Company (ROMC) as a volunteer, alongside his best friend, who happened to be my mum’s older brother. At this point, my parents hadn’t met yet. The volunteers were trained by British Army sergeants; according to my dad, they were “tough”! In the photo, he’s wearing the uniform of the ROMC.

My maternal grandfather had passed away when my mum was still a little girl and my gran was only in her 30s, and she had 6 children to care for with the youngest still a baby. Sadly, in 1943, just 6 months after my mum and dad were married, her brother, my dad’s best friend, my uncle I never knew – my gran’s first-born – died after contracting malaria; he was only 22. And my dad promised my gran he would look after her and her children.

In the 1950s, my dad was sent to the UK as part of a training course arranged by the railways, Malaya still being under British rule.

He worked for the railways all his life, and by the time he retired, he’d worked his way up to Assistant Traffic Manager, the highest post a non-Malay could hold.

I can safely say I inherited my love of books and reading from my dad. My mum loved to read too, but her reading material of choice was the newspaper and magazines. His favourite genre was thrillers, but he also enjoyed fantasy and westerns. When he was into a book, we had to practically jump up and down in front of him to get his attention. We always joked that the house could fall down around my dad and he wouldn’t notice, he’d just continue reading!

Papa- reading.jpg

He loved films and going to the cinema. When I was old enough and it became apparent I, too, enjoyed westerns and war films, my mum was so relieved – it meant I could go with my dad to the cinema and she wouldn’t have to suffer through those films anymore. She didn’t have to go, but she didn’t like the idea of him going on his own – her argument being, how could you enjoy a film properly if you don’t have anyone to talk to about it?

Papa - entertaining.jpg

A keen golfer, he played, representing the railways and, with his teammates, won a few trophies. He also enjoyed swimming in the sea. We always had dogs as pets, and his favourite breed was the German Shepherd.

With the last dog he had, Prince

With the last dog he had, Prince

While we did have fun before, it was only after retirement, when he relaxed a lot more that we had even more laughs. Like most grandparents, he and my mum were quite indulgent with their grandkids.

My dad was a good man with strong morals who took his responsibilities seriously. He loved his family and set things up so that my mum wouldn’t have financial worries when he passed, and he made sure there was enough for his 4 daughters too. I couldn’t ask for a better role model for my sons.

My dad and me (1985)

My dad and me (1985)

Who’s your role model? A family member or a mentor? I know at least a couple of people who cite fictional characters as their role models, and I think that’s a great idea.

Let's Chat - The Annoying Label of 'You're So Quiet'

Ever since I was little, way back in the day, I’ve always been told I was quiet.

(Meme)

It was usually said as a passing observation, but, as I got older, it started to sound more like a character flaw. Especially when tagged with other ‘observations’ like, “You don’t say much, do you?” It would annoy the pants off me (not literally!) when some people would act shocked if and when I did say anything.

I didn’t like being the centre of attention growing up, and I still don’t. I’m always happy to stay in the background, even at family gatherings. Being Asian, ‘large extended family’ comes with the territory.

(Meme)

‘Shy’ was added to the label of ‘quiet’ and I rolled with it. I was awkward in company and loved being alone, much to my sister’s disgust. Two years older than me, we spent a lot of time together growing up, along with a couple of our cousins, all close in age. They’re outgoing and gregarious… I’m the Scorpio who’d rather ‘hide’ and observe from the shadows.

It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve realised I’m an introvert. And so many things now make sense.

The type of introvert I am – INFJ – means, while I love my ‘alone-time’, I also enjoy being with people. But only certain people. And for only a certain amount of time. When I’m comfortable with people, I open up and enjoy having a good laugh. What I enjoy most is having in-depth conversations. I’m a fantastic listener, but I prefer talking to people face-to-face.

I hate talking on the phone.

(Meme)

Here’s a little secret – I’ve been known not to answer the phone when it rings. I’d rather know who it is so I can prepare myself. These days, I don’t answer the landline at all because of the number of ‘cold calls’ coming through. The way I see it, if it’s important, the caller with either leave a message or send me a text.

And it freaks me out when people visit unannounced. I need to prepare!

(Meme)

Not that long ago, I’d push my feelings aside and pretend none of this stuff bothered me. But, post-divorce, post-other stuff, and in my mid-50s, I don’t feel bad about it. Not all the time anyway.

I see it as practice for being a grumpy old woman. With cats.

(Meme)

What about you? Were you stuck with a ‘label’ growing up? Made to feel bad for being quiet or being loud? Did it bother you?

Top Ten Tuesday - What Makes Me Pick Up A Book

Thanks to Lydia Schoch, I’ve decided to join this weekly blog hop. In all the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve never joined one before.

‘Top Ten Tuesday’, according to the host, That Artsy Reader Girl, “was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.” Originally created by The Broke and the Bookish back in June 2010, it moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. Head on over to That Artsy Reader Girl to find out how to join and to check out the topics that have already been decided. New topics are announced a couple of months in advance, so you can plan ahead.

 So, what makes me pick up a book, regardless of whether I’m in a library or a bookshop?

  • A well-loved author, one I’m pretty confident will guarantee me a good read, like John Steinbeck

‘Cannery Row’ - John Steinbeck
  • Word of mouth, even though I’ve been disappointed with some recommendations but not this one – ‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill.

‘The Woman in Black’ - Susan Hill
  • I try so hard not to be swayed but cover art grabs my attention. Every. Single. Time – ‘The Vagrant’ by Peter Newman, which, thankfully, did not disappoint.

‘The Vagrant’ - Peter Newman
  • Intriguing title – ‘HHhH’ by Laurent Binet. That it’s based on true events of WW2 was another point in its favour.

‘HHhH’ - Laurent Binet
  • Back cover blurb – ‘The Enchanted’ by Rene Denfeld – ‘Monsters aren’t born – they are created. A prisoner sits on death row in a maximum-security prison. We don’t know his crime. We don’t know his name. But he watches and he listens. A lady investigator unravels unspeakable crimes. She does not let men go to their deaths without a fight. And the prisoner wonders… how do we stop men like me from happening?’ Powerful story.

‘The Enchanted’ - Rene Denfeld
  • Standalone, not a series – like ‘The Elites’ by Natasha Ngan. Like most books, it was the cover that drew me in. When I realised it was a standalone, that was when I succumbed and bought it.

‘The Elites’ - Natasha Ngan
  • Size of the book – lately, I find it difficult to commit to huge tomes, so it’s nice to have something to hand I know won’t take me long to finish, like ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway. My first Hemingway and I was blown away with how much story he tells with so few, well-chosen words.

‘The Old Man and the Sea’ - Ernest Hemingway
  • Anything to do with horses or wolves – ‘Of Wolves and Men’ by Barry Lopez has the added attraction of mythology and tales.

‘Of Wolves and Men’ - Barry Lopez
  • Short Story Collections – like ‘Nightmares and Dreamscapes’ by Stephen King. As much as I enjoy King’s novels, my favourites have always been his short story collections.

‘Nightmares and Dreamscapes’ - Stephen King

o   This is probably a bit sad, but I’ve bought/borrowed books for the simple reason of not wanting to leave empty-handed! Sometimes, I’ve been lucky…

‘Storm of Steel’ - Ernst Junger

… other times, not so much…

‘The Book Thief’ - Markus Zusak

I’m looking forward to reading what makes others pick up books and check out books that might well make it to my teetering TBR pile!