My father was a difficult man to love.
But ask anyone who knew him and they’ll tell you he was an equally difficult man to hate. It just wasn’t possible to be angry with him for too long. And there was bloody good reason for this.
They say to forgive is divine, but from my father I learned that asking for forgiveness was a far greater act. And he lived by this philosophy, being the first to acknowledge his mistakes and be humble enough to say he is sorry. And in that humility, I saw a powerful man.
Unlike most women, I wouldn’t call him my first love or that I fell in love with someone just like my Daddy. Instead, I saw my father as a force to be reckoned with. He was always this giant, larger-than-life presence in my life. I saw a titan; a god-like figure who had the power to stand in the way of everything I wanted. To take him on, I too would have to become a giant.
And so began a lifelong rebellion of broken rules and having it no other way than my own. Our battles were of epic proportions, putting even the Olympians to shame. His voice would bellow out commands for everyone in a 5-mile radius to hear. I was having none of it.
What we both probably failed to realize at the time was something the rest of the family would constantly point out to us over the years; we are exactly alike. My father and I were twin flames. We were born with the same fiery spirits and that means nothing could bring us down.
As I grew older I began to see what everyone was on about. I am very much my father’s daughter and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I embrace the loud mouth, the impassioned spirit and the larger-than-life heart I have inherited. Every part of him I battled with was already a part of me. And everything he wanted to pass on to the son he never had, he has unwittingly passed on to me. I am Tony Soysa’s daughter, the blood of his blood and his spirit that lives on. I take no man’s name but his and I will carry it with honour all the way to my own grave.
Despite how much I fought him, when I was hurt, wounded or in trouble, it was always him I would turn to. I needed my Daddy to hold me as I cried and tell me everything would be ok. And he did. Time after time. The moment’s when I’ve needed him over anyone else in my life have been innumerable. And I will never forget them.
Cancer is a dirty word; a vicious, ugly beast that takes and takes and takes. Seeing him disintegrate into a shadow of himself in those last few weeks were the hardest to bare. But it is not those days I chose to remember him by. I will remember him as he lived – the life of the party, the loudest voice in the room, the most generous of hearts. The Legend.
This passionate, violent, overpowering man has left me with nearly four decades of memories, both good and bad. Each memory with so much life and fervor that it was never possible to doubt his lust for life itself. If I go about things impassioned, it is only because of him. His loud, boisterous ways are very much a part of who I am today.
Tony Soysa was an adventurer. There always seemed to be another mountain to climb, another story to tell. I am a traveller like my father and I learn more from my journeys than I do at home. I will see him every sunset I capture, in every rising sun I drive by. I will remember him with every new voyage I embark on, every ocean I cross and every story I live to tell.
I love animals more than humans – yet another thing I’ve inherited from the incorrigible Mr. Soysa. Together we have been midwives to the birthing of a few dozen puppies; fed them, loved them and learned to let them go. We raised dogs, eagles, tortoise, rock squirrels, a cock bird and a mongoose named Rusty who would sit on Daddy’s shoulders and share his morning cup of tea.
Perhaps the greatest gift he leaves me with is honesty. My father believed in saying what he had to say, straight to your face. There were no hidden agendas or duplicitousness about him. While he may not have had much tact in his approach, he always said what he had to say. He didn’t believe in keeping things unsaid or harbouring grudges. In world full of lies and deceit, this is the most honourable way to live.
He wanted a son to carry on his family name, but as life’s ironies go – he was given daughters. But in his oldest daughter’s rebellious choice to be a single mother, his name lives on. Like me, my son will carry no other name than my fathers. We are all proud, fierce spirits from father to daughter to grandson and we will honour this spirit by bearing the same name.
Daddy you are the blood of my blood and your legacy lives on in Lucas. This, I promise.
My father was a giant because of his giant-sized heart.
I have stood on the shoulders of a giant, overwhelming man and it is only in doing so that I have become a giant. Nothing, no body and no circumstance will bring me down. We have both lived through hell and dragged ourselves all the way back into the light. The lessons I have learned from my father, I will pass on to my son: be an adventurer, love all beings, admit your mistakes and most of all, be honest no matter the cost.
Let’s carry his name with honour Lucas, all the days of our lives.
My father’s passing leaves a giant void in my life. All I can do now is remember that I am his daughter and honour him in a promise that will live on long after we are all long gone.
I am Tony Soysa’s daughter and his blood still flows with every beat of my heart.
Dear St. Peter, I apologize in advance. He’s probably giving you hell.