My Father - A Gentleman and Gentle Man

By Simon Sim
31 May, 2016

I recently became a second-time grandfather. Grandchildren, as people say, are a reward for not killing your children! What advice would I give to my children about parenting? Perhaps I can recall the lessons my father taught me.

I was born in 1952, the year Queen Elizabeth II ascended the British throne. That is a very long time ago.

As such, are lessons from my father still relevant? Lessons are many, principles are few. Lessons will vary, principles never will.

My father was a very generous man. He was unselfish with his time and money.

My father had a soft spot for the underdogs. He would champion the less privileged and the less advantaged. One might say he was a 'lesser man'. But in truth, because of this mantra, I saw in him a much bigger man. Of course, as a small boy then, he was a big man to me because he was a six footer. But now, as a mature man of 64, I realise that he was a big man not merely physically but because he had a big heart.

Father taught by example. He had such a big heart that there was always room in it to extend help to all and sundry. Mother would recount to us children a particular occasion when Father sought her permission to pawn some of the family jewellery so that some cash could be raised to help his younger brother who was in financial difficulties.

I saw in my father how he could handle his nine children - seven boys and two girls - firmly but fairly. All his children had equal opportunity in furthering our studies and all nine of us had an equal share of his inheritance.

Born in 1910, he was from the old school with some very Confucian ideals in child rearing, with a touch of Western influence from his education in the English medium. I saw Shakespearean humour when he named my two sisters Rosaline and Celia, an inspiration from 'As You Like It'.

I saw in him a husband who always treated my mother with tender loving care. He was always there to protect and provide for her. My son once reminded me to treat my wife well, saying, "Be nice to your wife - she's my mother, you know!" The lesson is being passed down through the generations. Truly, my father was a gentleman and a gentle man.

He lived by the principle "Correction does much, but connection does more". I was quite good in Mathematics while in school. I attribute this to my father spending countless hours playing solitaire, gin rummy and numerous card games with me. Only later did I realise it was father's unique way of bonding with his children. I began to apply this valuable lesson with my three children. They grew up acing their Math examinations. My bond with my children is ever strong because of card games!

In time to come, he became a very blessed grandfather of a small brood.

I am now a grandfather of a growing brood. My father first taught me how to be a good husband. Then he taught me how to be a great father. And he also taught me how to be a good and great grandfather. Amazing how good lessons taught by example and in truth always pass the test of time.

What people see in me now, I saw in my father then. My father may have left us for eternity in 1987, but his lessons remain in me even in 2016!

Simon Sim is the author of 2 books, The Family CEO 1 & 2. He is a father of 3, and with 2 grand kids he is now elevated to being One BUG, One Busy Uber Granddad.

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