There is a battle in each of us every day. Do we listen to our fears, doubts, and insecurities? Or…
The Most Precious Gifts From My Father
It is with a heavy heart that I am back home in Thailand. My relatives called yesterday to let me know that my estranged father suffered a major stroke and is unlikely to survive. I met with the doctors today, and the prognosis is bleak. He is on life support, and he cannot move at all. He is in and out of consciousness. On the outside chance that he does survive, he will be completely paralyzed for the remainder of his life. My relatives have asked me to make the final decision on whether to do everything we can to prolong his life or to let nature take its course to end his suffering. Never in a million years did I think that I would be the one to decide my father’s life.
I am completely devastated and heartbroken. Everything happened so unexpectedly and so suddenly. Since last night, my mind has been racing through a kaleidoscope of childhood memories. Despite everything, I want to remember the good that he did. He was the one who gave me my name (which means warrior in the Thai language). He was the one who introduced me to Muay Thai as a kid by bringing me to Lumpinee Stadium. He was the one who ignited my love for the ocean by first taking me to a deserted island with crystal clear waters and baby powder white sand in Pattaya. He was the one who gave me a blessed childhood. He was the one who brought me to Sityodtong Camp for my first day of Muay Thai training when I was a child. He was the one who inspired me to be a dreamer in life. In many ways, it is a fitting end that our last photo together would be with so many Muay Thai World Champions. This is how I would like to remember my father – always.
It is too easy to focus on the negatives in life. Many years ago, my father abandoned me, my mother, and my younger brother during the lowest point of our lives. I held onto so much anger for decades. I often wondered in disgust why he threw us away like garbage. Towards the end of 2015, I reached out to relatives to search for my father after many years; I found him, and it was painful to see that he was both completely broke and broken – and alone. I was shocked at how old and frail he had become. He was a stranger. Still, I wanted to open the doors of communication, to forgive him, and to find peace for both of our hearts. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a small step towards healing for us. He even came to visit me in Singapore (where this photo was taken). I don’t want to sugarcoat things and pretend that everything went back to normal. It did not. It had been too long and there was too much damage. The saddest part though is that I thought we could take our time to heal and mend the relationship. I thought we had time, but we did not. Now, only 18 months later, everything is gone.
Life is precious. Don’t wait to say I love you. Don’t wait to say I am sorry. Don’t wait to say I forgive you. Don’t wait to say thank you. You see, I have learned (again) that love is everything in life. Treasure your loved ones. Make them feel loved and special every day. Don’t hold back out of pride, anger, fear, or anything else. And always remember that forgiveness is the elixir of the soul. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Life might be full of suffering and tragedy, but it is also full of beauty and love. Let us always remember the good in each other.
Thank you for everything, Dad. No matter what happens, I will always be full of gratitude for the precious moments we spent together.