Lim: Only for love

Wide awake

ON THIS day, exactly a year ago, my parents celebrated their 62nd anniversary.

My father was far from a perfect husband. And among his faults was his propensity to put his foot in his mouth. He was also the original TMI (too much information) guy. My mother, prim and proper, could not stand his spontaneity.

But we never doubted their love for each other.

My mother lived for him. And she was the light of his life. In their twilight years, my father never stopped my mother from travelling but even when she was away for only two days, he would lose his appetite and sleep all day till my mother got back.

The moment my mother returned, however, they would be at it again. They would sit side by side at the dinner table, fight over the news on TV, yell at each other and all because they were both hard of hearing.

Last year, on their 62nd anniversary, we grilled them about their love story. Despite her ailing health, my mother’s eyes lit up when she described to me what my father wore every time he visited her.

He had to cross an ocean every weekend to see her. He had to take a slow boat, then take a long bus ride, take a shower at a friend’s house and then rent a private vehicle and driver that would finally take him to my mother’s house. My mother giddily told me that “whatever the weather—signal #1, signal #2... if my father said he’d be there—he’d be there.”

And the princess fell hard for the brave lad who only had stories to bring her.

We used to ask our father before what gifts he brought my mother and he always said, “none.” We thought he was kidding but through the years, his answer never changed. Turns out, he wasn’t kidding.

No wonder my mother would never let it go—she always nagged my father about never giving her any flowers. My father would always retort, “It was not the custom in those days to give flowers.” And my mother would always beg to disagree.

I consoled my mother with the thought that my father probably used up all his money crossing an ocean, taking a bus and hiring a private vehicle and driver every weekend to see her, thus, the lack of gifts.

“Why do you think she said yes? I was a nobody. She was a princess.”

“Well,” I told my father, “Obviously, you are very skilled.”

My father didn’t have a kingdom but that didn’t stop him from going after a princess. He was very confident of himself and obviously, very skilled in wooing a woman.

“Do you think she regretted marrying me?” One day, I finally said, “Pa, if she could put up with your snoring and obnoxious self for 62 years, she must have really loved you. And if she loved you that much, she can’t have regretted marrying you.”

Lying next to her, my father held her hand throughout the night. The following morning, my mother passed.

Only for love.


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