GOODBYE, MR. BASS MAN
For my father, Moses Tay (September 8, 1940 — January 23, 2010)
It has been a little over a week since Dad left us & I've finally managed to sit down & begin writing this post.
Like death, this blog entry has always been inevitable. It was just a matter of when & how, though I know I could never truly have been prepared for it. I suppose that is why I'd been procrastinating — I couldn't & didn't want to believe he was gone for good but, during mass last Saturday evening, it hit me.
Just two Saturdays ago, around two in the afternoon, I returned home from the gym, only to find Mum pacing about worriedly, telling me that something was wrong with Dad. Thinking it couldn't be anything serious, I assumed it was just fatigue from him having worked on his motorcycle the day before & that Mum was simply being her usual excitable self.
Upon entering his bedroom, however, I knew I'd been mistaken. He was lying in bed, weak, restless & semi-coherent. I called for an ambulance but by the time the paramedics arrived, Dad was already unconscious, with only a very faint pulse. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to revive him but after he flatlined a few times, I knew he had left us. And to think, just hours before, as I was getting ready to leave for the gym, Mum & I were in the kitchen, discussing how we would celebrate Dad's 70th birthday this year.
I then experienced firsthand how cruel a master of irony death is. It leaves you no time or opportunity to grieve when a loved one dies, instead requiring you to stay calm & controlled throughout, so you can deal with the many strangers who have to be contacted in the aftermath of the deceased's passing — the police, the doctor, the undertaker, the dailies & your friends & family.
Still, in the days that followed, there were moments, both private & public, for all who had known him to reflect on his life, his relationships with them & how his death had affected them. Personally, I was on autopilot (as I'm sure my mother & brother were), seeing to the funeral arrangements & meeting the countless people who had turned up to pay their respects. But whenever I had a moment to myself, an almost overwhelming mixture of emotions would come upon me: nostalgia, pain, loneliness & disbelief.
As the writer in the family, the obituary & eulogy became my responsibility & I had barely enough time to sit down & write the latter. It wasn't until a few hours before the memorial service on the second night of the funeral wake that I actually started on the eulogy. As I whiled away the first half hour or so wondering how I could write a relatively short yet fitting tribute to Dad, it occurred to me: Dad had played different roles to different people & maybe, just maybe, I could capture that essence on one A4 page of foolscap. So I tried:
"Even as we say 'goodbye' to Dad, we hold on to the many fond memories we have of him. As a father, he was gentle, affectionate & generous. He was happy as long as everyone at home was happy & would always go to great lengths to ensure that we had what we needed.
As a husband, he was caring, loving & responsible, always making sure our mum was well taken care of in every possible way. He never had a harsh word on his lips & was often on hand with a massage or a meal to ease any physical discomfort on our mum's part.
As a friend & musician, he was lively, entertaining & multi-talented. His limitless supply of jokes, countless stories, singing & dancing made him the life of every party, while his excellent musicianship made him the man to call for many gigs.
Dad was many things to many people but the one thing we all know about him is that he was a genuinely kindhearted & good-natured man & we will all miss him dearly & remember him fondly.
We are comforted that he is now watching over us from a better place & he is with God.
Dad, we love you & miss you. Thank you for being a wonderful father, husband & friend.
"I had to get my brother to read it, for I was quite sure I wouldn't be able to make it through the entire eulogy without breaking down.
Even now, I doubt I managed to truly summarize in that eulogy what Dad was all about. Then again, words can only do so much, even in the hands of the most skilled wordsmith.
I know what I miss about Dad. I miss his jokes, no matter how cringeworthy many of them were. I miss the delightful sounds of his piano- & bass-playing, his singing & dancing, his good heart, his constant patience.
I miss making breakfast for him, watching television with him, taking rides on his motorcycle & singing with him. One of my earliest memories with Dad took place in his car, listening & singing along to Nat King Cole's & Natalie Cole's father-daughter version of Unforgettable, a memory I undoubtedly miss.
Those close to me know that what I will miss most, however, is not the memories I have had with him but the memories I'm unable to have with him. I will miss him on his 70th birthday, when I should be throwing him the celebration of a lifetime. I will miss him at my eventual wedding, where he should be walking me down the aisle & giving me away. I will miss him when I have my first child, when he should be carrying his grandchild & beaming with grandfatherly pride.
There are many other events during which I will miss him but, as always, I will take comfort in the knowledge that he is now in a better place, free from all worldly cares & concerns.
Dad's funeral was attended by many & there have been tributes to him in the media, thanks in no small part to his longtime friends who wanted to remember him as best they could.
To everyone who showed up or helped out in one way or another, thank you.
And to Dad, thank you for being the best father I could ever have asked for. I will love you & miss you for as long as I live.
*Moses Tay was the bass guitarist with Naomi & The Boys, Sing60sMusic.
Image/Original article: Cheryl Tay Collection.
(Note: Please request writer's permission to reproduce this letter.)
Cheryl Tay's Blog: http://dramaticmusings.blogspot.com/