Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Fathers come in a variety of assorted packaging. Some are wrapped in suits and hand stitched Italian loafers, whilst others are adorned with bowling shirts and eighties denim high pants. There are those who come with novel accessories such as beer cans, golf clubs, green thumbs, organizers, or fountain pens. However, different they may all be, a simple commonality can be found...that is we would not exist without them.

My father is one that should have come gift wrapped in a khaki safari suit and matching hat. The man lived quite an adventure, and I grew up listening to countless stories of amazing cities and characters he had met along the way.

A born traveler, dad studied abroad in Europe with a scholarship and an interest in seeing the rest of the world through his own eyes. He traveled everywhere, and whilst my mother was still pregnant with me he sent her letters and photographs from Paris, Berlin, and London.
I remember being ten years old and a curious girl who constantly rummaged through her mother's dressing table. There was a tiny yet beautiful Eiffel Tower necklace that caught my eye. The chain was thin and crafted out of a white gold, and hanging on it was a square marble pendant with the gold tower carved into it. I asked my mother if I could borrow the necklace, and she said yes but on one condition: I had to take very good care of it.

It was quite old, she explained.
Dad had sent it over to her in the mail when he traveled to Paris. At the time, she was still pregnant with me, and could not travel with him. She told me that the necklace was older than me, and that I should treat it like I would an elder: with respect. So I did just that, and wore it with pride to a dance recital where I later stood back stage showing the tower off to my peers, warning them that if they touched it I would tear a hole in their leotard.
Although I was only partially joking.

After me and my baby sister was born, dad made a rather drastic decision to move us away from our home town, which was then the bustling metropolitan city of Jakarta, Indonesia. There was political unrest that made my parents uneasy about our future if we chose to stay.

My father had been offered a job in Australia, and so he took us with him in search of a better life. It was lucky that he did, because only a month after we waved goodbye to relatives and friends, all hell broke loose as the economy crisis in Indonesia worsened. I watched the riots on the news miles away in Melbourne, my new home.
Until now I still think about how lucky we were to have fled just in time. And today, on Father's Day, I celebrated the life of a man who showed me the world.

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