Following in father’s footsteps

Dr. Kumar Weerasekera

It is three years since my father Dr. Kumar Weerasekera passed away. I am not sure whether the emotions I feel are those normally felt by a person who has lost a parent. Certainly, losing a parent must be one of the most traumatic of experiences.

This appreciation is a humble attempt to capture the essence of a man whose sheer presence and impact cannot be evoked in words on a piece of paper. I am sure my sentiments will be appreciated by all who knew him.

My father died on March 20, 2006, of a heart attack, at Katunayake International Airport, on his way to attend an overseas conference. When my daughter was born four months later, I realised how much strength it took to be a parent. You raise your child according to your instincts. As a parent you have to put away your fears and insecurities, all the while being careful not to make mistakes. And you are forever trying to protect your children, knowing that you have to give them the freedom to find their own way in life.

I am where I am in life because of my father, and I am who I am because of my mother. I am sure my brother and sister feel the same. Thaaththi taught us to believe in ourselves. He never had to tell us how to live our lives, or what to think or say. Rather, he set an example for all to follow.

As a senior clinical oncologist, Thaaththi spent his whole working life trying to save and improve lives afflicted with cancer. Whenever he could, he would involve us in his work. He taught us the value of the human connection.

He treated every person with care and respect, regardless of rank or status. He believed in the healing power of kindness, and that laughter was the best medicine. There were times when Thaaththi’s passion for his work took him away from us too much, but we learnt to accept this. After all, he was helping others.

Thaaththi strove to bring out the best in people and ensure the best for each individual. He took on further responsibility when he became president of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) for four years.

I have felt Thaaththi’s absence countless times over the past three years. However, he lives on as I continue in life as his daughter, trying to be true to all he taught me.

If I could achieve half of what Thaaththi achieved, touch half as many lives and hearts as he did, and be half the person he was, I would feel fulfilled.

Dr. Erandi S. W. De Silva

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