My husband Philip recounts the loss of a father.

D. Johnson Thangaraj
D. Johnson Thangaraj

When my dad died this day in 1968 I was just 7 years old.

To be honest, my memory of him is quite faint. He was one who spent a lot of time and energy in his pharmacy. He would come home quite late every day after closing his business, and it would have been past my bedtime.

My father at work in his pharmacy
My father at work in his pharmacy

I do have a few memories. I remember him picking me up from school one evening, when a school picnic ended quite late, and taking me home on his bicycle. I also remember the excitement in our local CSI church, when he was outbidding everyone in the harvest festival auction. I also remember once being slapped for doing something forbidden.

I faintly remember the day he died. He had suffered a heart attack on the way to the train station, and someone had accompanied him home. I remember his personal items like his wallet and watch being handed over, although I do not remember to whom they were being handed over. I also remember being woken up the next morning by my cousin with the news that my father was no more. He was 46.

I do not think I had experienced death in the family before this, although I had observed many a funeral cortège go past our house on the street. The tragedy of losing my dad did not strike me with the enormity it would have had I known what death was. Did I know it was irreversible? Did it register in my mind that I would not see him again? I don’t remember. Although the sorrow gradually sunk in over the years, I am thankful that it happened when I was so young. I can’t say this for my siblings who were all older than me. On the flip side, I regret not knowing my dad well enough.

My siblings at my fathers's graveside a few months ago
My siblings at my fathers’s graveside a few months ago

To some extent, I came to relate to the father-child relationship from my experiences with my children. But it cannot be the same to be on the other side, can it?

I have felt that life wasn’t fair to me. But who am I to define fairness. I am reminded of the encounter between God and Job, as recorded in Job 40:2-4.

2“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
Let him who accuses God answer Him!”
3 Then Job answered the Lord:
4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to You?
I put my hand over my mouth.

Thanks be to God, my Heavenly Father, who has always been there for me. Thanks to my godly mother and my three siblings. We were and still are a close-knit family. Thanks be to God for my maternal uncle Dr.G.C.Anbunathan, who was a great support to us in those difficult days.

My mother, Flora Johnson
My mother, Flora Johnson
My uncle, Dr. G.C.Anbunathan
My uncle, Dr. G.C.Anbunathan

Romans 8:28 is a sure promise.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

I cannot explain how the death of one’s dad can be something good. But I understand that God has not promised that I would see all of the good promised within my time on earth, and therefore I do not doubt that promise. I surely believe that God has used that experience of losing my dad to mould me in some way. I do not yet understand the whats and whys, but one day I will.