Many knew our father as a retired Deputy General Manager of the Bank of Ceylon, but to us he was first and foremost a wonderful family man who epitomised what a good father (and husband) should be.Our parents had three daughters. Thaaththa never expressed disappointment that he had no son. When we were children, living inside the Galle Fort, Thaatha would take us for brisk walks every morning along the ramparts.
He took a great personal interest in our lives. When we hurt ourselves, he bandaged our wounds. He cleaned our jewellery, recorded our piano duets, and preserved our poems and birthday cards. Whenever we came home, whether it was after a day’s work or after a lapse of several years, from overseas, Thaaththa would be at the door to welcome us with his broad smile.
Thaaththa worked at the Bank of Ceylon for 36 years, and retired as a Deputy General Manager. He had a strong work ethic, and taught us by example to do one’s duties with responsibility, diligently and scrupulously, to be loyal to one’s workplace, and to act with integrity, whatever the cost.
He was very much a family man. He loved nothing better than to spend time with his wife and children, and later with his sons-in-law and grandchildren. His family was his priority. He would attend to all aspects of family life, from taking care of financial matters and doling out medicines and vitamins to listening to our stories and helping us with our homework.
He had endless patience. When we went shopping, he would patiently wait while his “girls” tried on clothes, shoes or jewellery.
He and Amma never missed a parent-teacher meeting, a sports meet or a prize-giving. A loyal past pupil of St. Joseph’s College, Maradana and a graduate of the University of Colombo, he valued education and encouraged us in our academic pursuits. Thaaththa was the “great provider”, playing Santa Claus during and outside Christmas. We remember the time when, during the era of import restrictions, he attended a six-week training in Indonesia, and returned with a wonderful array of gifts, for the immediate family and the extended family as well. We later we came to know that he had lived frugally during his stay overseas, in order to save money to buy these thoughtful gifts.
He had a special rapport with children. When his overseas-based grandchildren came on holidays, he would listen to their news and play with them. Just a month before his death, he was playing games with his youngest granddaughter Rushika, and even let her plait his silver hair and decorate it with colourful ribbons.
Thaaththa was very organised and methodical. Records were meticulously kept and documents neatly filed. He maintained extra supplies of everything, whether it was toiletries, batteries or stationery. When we needed something, all we had to do was ask.
He was not much of a talker, but he was a great listener. His memory, to the last, was remarkable. He could remember incidents down to the last detail.
Thaaththa loved anything sweet. He was lucky in having married a superb cook. Although he battled with diabetes, he could not resist chocolates, cakes or puddings. With a twinkle in his eye, he would ask for a second helping. Indeed, the last thing he ate was ice cream.
He loved reading newspapers. His mornings were not complete until he had perused all the daily newspapers from cover to cover. He took a childlike delight in household gadgets. He was always well dressed and well groomed.
He was a man of deep faith. He would start each day with Holy Mass. He attended Mass on the last day of his life. He was a familiar sight at church, missal in hand, at daily Mass with my mother. He prayed the rosary often, sometimes reciting several rosaries during a journey, and he would assure us that he prayed every day for us. He was an active parishioner of St. Sebastian’s Church, Moratuwa, and ever ready to help in charitable causes.
Thaaththa’s trust in God’s goodness and mercy is exemplified in the final paragraph of his memoirs, which he completed last year:
“So now at 82 years of age, though my family may think it sounds morbid, I have only to await the call, and when it does come, I shall answer it with equanimity, thanking God for all His blessings.”
Thank you, Thaaththa, for all you have been to Amma and us. We love you, we miss you, and we pray that God will grant you eternal joy.
Rosanne, Carmeline and Mary