IT’S Father’s Day again and my Facebook’s newsfeed is being flooded by happy pictures of children and their dads.

Lovely wishes and praises fill the screen and I can’t help but smile when I see my friends, the “newly-crowned” dads, having little presents made especially for them. Certainly these are significant moments but they are also moments I may never get to experience.

Growing up with a single mum, who adopted me since I was a baby, and grandma in a fatherless household, I used to find it perplexing when other kids talked about how heroic their dads were.

They would enthuse about how dad saved them when they fell down the stairs or protected them from mummy’s wrath.

The only place I could run to when my mum decided that Mr Cane needed to make an appearance was behind my grandma. Even then, I’d still get an earful after she had fended off mum’s anger.

My friends’ experiences with their dads will always sound like some fairy tale. I guess that’s why they say that girls grow up to marry men who mirror their dads.

Does that mean I’ll find a man who’s like my mum then? While it may sound like I had a sad childhood, trust me, it was far from woeful.

Two in one

Living in a household with two women who embody the ultimate in Wonder Woman resilience, it’s not hard to see why I grew up to be so independent.

Recalling once when our roof started leaking during a terrible thunderstorm, with quick reflexes, both ladies set up buckets in multiple places.

When the storm subsided, my grandma took out the rickety wooden ladder and went up to the roof while my mum brought out the tool box. To my amazement, they had the roof fixed in a matter of hours like it was something they did every day.


Mum (left) the pillar of strength in my life.

I noticed how my neighbours, beset with the same predicament, would have the man of the house settling everything. And then there was my household. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my grandma’s and mum’s attitude, it’s the importance of looking for solutions instead of at the problem, and to be creative in one’s approach.

I was raised to be logical and analytical in thought as there was no room for error. Mum’s perpetual reminder of “do it yourself” continues to reverberate into my adulthood and has become my mantra to this day.

After my grandma left our home to live with my aunt, I saw how my mum cooked and cleaned, worked to bring home the dough and played the role of driver to get me to school and tuitions.

All that and she still made time to read me stories before bed. She was everything — the good cop, the bad cop, the villain and the angel, and she continues to be so.

Uncles to the rescue

I was also fortunate to have many loving uncles who assumed the father-figure role. My late uncle, whom I affectionately called “baby’s uncle”, was a constant in my life until I moved to Kuala Lumpur for my studies.

He was the one who took me on hikes and taught me to fish. He bought me pets and educated me on how to take care of them. He was always good with his hands and showed me how to be resourceful with simple materials around me.

I remember him building a tree house for me, guiding me patiently on how to nail the wooden pieces together.


Baby’s Uncle who brought her everywhere on his trusty motorcycle.

Most significant of all, it was he who instilled courage in me to do whatever I wanted such as climbing a coconut tree if I wanted coconuts for tea.

My mum still laughs when she recalls the time when my uncle’s colleague became puzzled why my uncle would suddenly put me in a dress for he always thought I was a boy.

Then there was my other uncle who took me in as part of the family as I grew closer to my Chu cousins.

His love for F1 and cars rubbed off on me and today I know the difference between a dead battery and an overheated engine!

That knowledge has come in handy on numerous occasions when I’ve found myself with a car that wouldn’t start.

Blessings aplenty

There are many things I might have missed out, and perhaps I’ll continue to miss out as time goes by. Such as not having a dad to walk me down the aisle or person to run to for sound advice should I ever find myself in strife with my future husband.


The Chu family, we’ve shared everything from laughters, tears and even our ‘chou chou’ pillows.

That said, it doesn’t change the fact that I have a mum, an awesome one at that, who plays her dual role so amazingly and that, despite not having a real father, I still have loving father figures around me in the shape of my wonderful uncles who help to fill the holes so well. And for that, I’m truly blessed.

So here’s to all the single mums out there and the wonderful uncles: Happy Father’s Day!

Su-lyn@nst.com.my

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