Giving a tribute to fathers is not easy, especially since there are countless ways to celebrate their love.
Compelling stories that make us think about our own experiences, as sons or daughters, and as fathers, real (biological) or pretend (adopted), move us to reflect on learnings we have received, and learnings we have taught.
Our own father is definitely our most favorite, gaining an immeasurable knowledge about life, unconditional love, tough love, endless love. And here we would like to share some other favorite fathers or sons we have encountered and have inspired us too:
Singapore Prime Minister and Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew
His demise earlier this year brought many to tears especially remembering how he has fearlessly placed Singapore from being a third world country to a respected first world nation, prioritizing its economy, national security, and even the state of public housing, surpassing obstacles and successfully implementing its policies.
Singapore, celebrating its 50th Founding Anniversary this year, fittingly has as its Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who took over the helm in 2004 from Goh Chok Tong. Also a well-respected political figure, people were clearly touched when PM Lee Hsien Loong announced on national television the death of his father, who “inspired us, gave us courage, kept us together and brought us here..” But on the days leading to Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral, we learned so much more about him, not just being the Founding Father of Singapore, but being father to three, being a loving husband, and a doting grandfather, as shared by his second son Lee Hsien Yang in his eulogy.
US President Barack Obama
Completing his second and last term as President of the United States of America, Pres. Barack Obama will most likely leave a lasting legacy, which, in his own words, says that there are three accomplishments he is most proud of as President: the economic recovery, Obamacare, and his foreign policy. But clearly the most important of all, is his being a father to two daughters: Malia and Sasha, who he says, consider him a “fun” dad though he can teeter on the edge of being embarrassing, as he related to a Today interview. Despite his very busy schedule, he says he would attend parent/teacher meetings, ballgames and recitals. He may be the most powerful leader of the First World, but to his daughters, he is just their dad who is constantly present, unabashedly cheerful and definitely “cool” (he has read every Harry Potter book, collects comic books, and enjoys Scrabble and poker).
While we eagerly await and wonder if dear old George will be a father anytime soon, many of us have seen his being a loving son to his father, Nick Clooney, a former journalist and talk show host. George’s father admits to thinking his son would end up being a stand-up comic, given George’s knack for being a clown, spontaneous in his jokes, and years, later, even with being a famous actor, would pull stunts on his friends and co-actors. The father-son relationship is something worth admiring, and it speaks a lot about both men’s family values: one of loyalty, love, and respect.
During the wedding of George to the famous human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, Nick Clooney gave a toast to the newlyweds, saying “love is alive and well,” admitting that his son was a nervous groom. He welcomed the beautiful bride Amal, and was obviously thrilled for the union. Nick Clooney has been married to George’s mom Nina, for 55 years. The father and son tandem have figured in fighting for political and social causes in Washington DC, opposing the Iraq War, donating to Hurricane Katrina Fund, and speaking about the Darfur crisis.
Not many may know Christopher, a highly-regarded British actor known for the television series Cracker (1993) and twice nominated for the BAFTA Television Awards. A few weeks ago, Christopher wrote this moving piece in The Guardian about his father’s bout with dementia, wherein instead of trying to understand the debilitating brain disorder, chose instead to understand the world his father was in. He did not insist on his father remembering him as his son, but instead continued to care for him and relate to him as a friend. He grieves for the loss of his father who died in 2012, but is now a staunch supporter of Alzheimers Research UK, sharing his moving story for more awareness on this disease which now has almost a million people in the UK living with dementia. The cases are rising, with worldwide statistics of 47.5 million living with dementia, a brain disorder which, if caught early, may be treatable. Brain training is an acknowledged habit that may help us strengthen our memory as what has been written here.
These stories of several fathers’ strengths, or their sons’, are indeed inspiring. We also share two videos that are touching, sad and funny, but very real.
Here is one from International Christian Concern on kids being fatherless then becoming “fatherfull,” becoming “really daughter” and “really son.” Two kids who have found homes full of love from their mothers and fathers, and sharing their stories, that being loved by a good dad is wonderful.
Another video is about a little girl and her daddy who “lies.” She is so proud of him, loves him so, as he continues to shower him with his time and his affection. But she knows he lies, because all he wants is for his daughter to be happy. You might need some tissues here.
We all want to make our fathers proud, and we all want to cascade our strengths as fathers to our children, the way they have given us the same strength, love and compassion. Our own dads may be like Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — strict yet respected; or President Obama — optimistic and invigorating; or we may be like George Clooney who, together with his dad, is unafraid and outspoken. And finally, we may be like Christopher Eccleston, who, up to his father’s last breath, stayed by his side, proving that family love prevails.
(Author is a proud daughter of his 82-year old revered father who is a much better writer, sweet husband to his wife of 60 years, grandfather of 22 and great grandfather of 13. She believes she inherited her father’s strength. She says her dad has the kindest heart and the healthiest mind, and is a staunch advocate of handwriting, which inspired her to write about the importance of it).