Papa spent 24 years living and working in British Hong Kong and loved every minute of it. I believe that the city of Hong Kong is part of his soul, very much like it is part of mine. That’s where he met my Mum, and where our family planted their roots. Papa eventually left Hong Kong to retire in Cape Town, and then moved back to the Netherlands after my Mum passed away. Papa hadn’t been back to Hong Kong for years after leaving in 1983.
So today I’m also taking you back to 2001, which is when Greg, our close friend Karl, and I took my Papa back to Hong Kong for a Christmas holiday. At that point it had been a year since Mama had passed away and Papa was still extremely heart broken. He needed cheering up. He loved spending time with the “youngsters” as he called us, so this trip was therapeutic in many ways.
During our trip we walked down memory lane revisiting Papa’s old hang outs, the schools my brother and I attended, the apartments we lived in, the hospital where I was born, and the offices where Papa worked. We met up with local friends, discovering all sorts of new nooks and crannies in this beloved city. We also ate lots of delicious and familiar food. It was an incredibly fun holiday, and the first time that I had seen Papa laugh from the heart and belly since Mama’s illness and passing. Priceless.
My Papa is a very kind, generous, strong, disciplined, gentle, practical, patient and academic soul. He is also very sentimental and slightly stubborn. The stone jacket that you see Papa wearing in these photos was stained and a little worse for wear. There is no way that my late Mum would have allowed Papa to wear a worn and stained jacket. I desperately wanted to pass it on, but when I tried Papa said in a firm voice, “No. Way.” And that was that.
Mama had bought the jacket so he could not bear to part with it. He wore it every day on our trip because it comforted him.
Papa still speaks of this trip with fond memories. Greg, Karl and Papa were like the three musketeers, laughing and enjoying their beers and each other’s stories like old mates. As a daughter who only wants the best for her wonderful Daddy, I was very touched by this dynamic.
We see my precious Papa about once a year. He’s coming to visit Seattle at the end of June and we are extra excited to share our stories of Japan. We’ll also see familiar friends, eat lots of Asian and French food, see the odd movie and visit many a bookstore.
Papa will be sporting a much newer Summer jacket when he visits. As the years went by, the sentimental stone jacket became even more stained, worn, and tore at the sleeve and side seams. So we bought Papa a taupe jacket from Nordstrom a few birthdays ago to replace the one that Mama had bought. Papa was finally ready to exchange one sentimental piece for another, and I know Mama wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
I love you Papa, and wouldn’t change you for the world. You are a role model and very dear to my heart. I wish you many more happy and healthy years with your kids, grandchild and our doggies.
We at YouLookFab wish all the dads a very happy Father’s Day on Sunday.