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Saturday June 12, 2010

Thank you, Daddy

FATHER’S Day has evolved into a wonderful day that acknowledges and appreciates the important role played by a father in raising children and building a stronger society.

Among the many theories of how Father’s Day began, historians believe that it started four thousand years ago in Babylon. A son named Elmesu carved a message to his father on a piece of clay, wishing his father a long and healthy life.

In modern times, the tradition of celebrating fathers came about in 1909, when Sonora Louise Smart Dodd in the US saw the difficulties her single father went through while bringing up six children alone. She reasoned that since there was a day to recognise mothers, then there should be one to honour fathers.

All fathers are infinitely special. However, it’s the qualities that make my dad an individual that differentiates him from everyone else. As one of my life’s greatest inspirations, Bryan Aloysius Jeremiah lives his life with very solid moral principles, showering my mother, me and my younger sister with unconditional love.

Everything in my dad’s life centres on caring for other people — always eager to lend a helping hand and inspire his family, relatives and close friends to be the best of what they already are.

Way back when: My father, Bryan Aloysius Jeremiah, and me in a photograph taken in 1986.

At times, he could be talking to strangers and has no problems striking up a conversation with anyone. It did not matter who they were or their beliefs, he never judged them.

My dad is one of the hardest working people I know, acquiring his life lessons by overcoming various challenges growing up in Penang in the 1960s.

Coming from a family with modest income, university education was a privilege, and because of this, he understood the importance of quality education to ensure success in life.

Nevertheless, after he finished secondary school at St. Xavier’s Institution, he soldiered on, juggling various jobs which included being a radio announcer on Radio Malaysia, singing and yodelling. Yes, yodelling.

Unlike his eldest daughter, my dad is a talented individual with closets of trophies from everything ranging from football to badminton to ping pong to bowling to hockey.

The one award that wasn’t derived from sports was for Radio Talentime 1971, in which he secured top placing. He then proceeded to compete as a finalist in the RTM’s Bakat TV 1971 with the song Love Knot in My Lariat.

I remember my grandmother Muriel Dragon-Jeremiah once telling me that his talent was apparent the moment he stood up from his baby cot to hum and mumble the words to Buttons and Bows, a 1947 song which was playing on the radio. He was two years old and could hardly speak yet.

After an accidental foray into the corporate world, my dad worked his way up in manufacturing and logistics, never looking back. I think these diverse experiences enabled him to impart copious amounts of self-esteem to his kids.

He has always encouraged me to venture out, learn new things and come back with extraordinary stories and lessons learnt. Over the years, the opportunities he provided my sister and I were endless.

We both had a great childhood riding our bicycles around our quiet neighbourhood; celebrating our birthdays with games, clowns and magicians; sandcastles; holidays; ballet, tap dance and piano lessons; in short, the works.

He led by example, taking pride in everything he did, from his family to his corporate work, to golf, to tending to our garden at home, to household matters and even occasional chores around the house.

As supportive as he was in everything we took an interest in, I was constantly reminded to not get distracted and to focus on my end goals. He wasn’t one of those parents who pushed his kids to study conventional majors in university or work in conventional industries.

His faith that I would find my own path and make the right choices for myself was unwavering, influencing my approach to life.

The examples he has set, have provided the stepping stones I needed to achieve my goals. He gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person and I look up to him with love and pride.

Dad, thanks for being my teacher, my guide, my partner in crime and my source of strength and support. Here’s to a great Father’s Day celebration! Love, Dawn

Penangite Dawn Jeremiah has always been inquisitive about her surroundings. Armed with a passion for television and journalism, she is a senior marketing executive at a high definition lifestyle channel. A part-time actress, this 1st runner up in the Miss Malaysia World 2007 pageant can be seen in the coming-of-age television series K.I.T.A., every Monday at 10pm on Astro Ria.

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