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February 9, 2011

On Being an Ancient Father

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I guess being a father at age 60 is like having a grandson except the child never leaves. Dzul, sleeps, eats and poops around here all the time, morning, noon and night. I really don’t mind because my wife has the equipment to feed him so I am relived of sterilizing bottles.


I have lost the job of changing diapers. While working on the computer, Dzul told me in no uncertain terms his pampers need to be changed. In mid-thought while writing, I rushed through the process. My wife could not figure out how I left one cheek exposed.


While in the states, we purchased a halter where Dzul, strapped to my wife’s front, enjoys our walks. Being a guy, I insisted I would perform this task. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, I had trouble because I need to see my feet because of an illness I acquired some years ago. Balance became a problem. Now, my wife has taken over that task. I am good at hauling the diaper bag around, though.


When we wander, everyone wants to see him because the mix of occident and orient genes produces a physically magnificent child. Most agree he favors the occident side of the gene pool except his skin has a built in tan. His eyes are huge and sometimes, brown, then blue and then my father’s green. It’s like they can’t make up their mind.


When I think of the future, I realize that when I am 70, he will be 10. What a great impetus to take care of myself to live as long as possible and enjoy him and my two girls. I have taken a teaching job on something I know nothing about, Literature in English. I try and exercise as much as possible. I am on my feet while in the classroom, begging, questioning, and cajoling answers out of the students.


They gave me the worst group of students in the school. “Here see what you can do with this bunch,” they said. But not in so many words. I have no problems because I threatened to throw them off the balcony if there was any misbehavior. I was just kidding, of course, but I think they took me seriously. Because of the media and cinema films, Americans have a reputation of extreme violence.


But I digress. We are speaking both English and Malay to Dzul. We have been told that he will sort it out in his brain, separate the languages and be fluent in both. I am afraid he will speak English like the locals, a mixture of Sarawak Malay, Malay, Iban, Chinese, English and a few Tamil words. A beautiful concoction understood by all here but would not pass in the states or any other English-first language country. We shall see.


Regrets? Just one. I have started to think of mom more often now. She so loved her grandchildren. But, I know she is looking down with love. In my minds-eye, I can see her smiling at Dzul.


…Life is good


For other articles on Borneo, see Tom’s Blog at All are welcome on Face Book at Borneo Tom


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