Monday, January 28, 2008


Just retired, he quit smoking (went cold turkey just like that) and offered to babysit when his eldest grandchild a.k.a. me was born.

He travelled the world to see the sights and never failed to bring back with him a sling bag for me, representing almost every country he visited. Being the tomboy I was (and still am), I didn't care much for these purchases. But distinctly, I remember my top 3 choices when I had no option but to attend family dinners in a dress - the rubbery red-indian-girl-with-feather-in-her-hair tote, the round faux pas fur bag with a golden chain and the rattan bag of a girl's face with green plaits.

During my kindy days, he would wait for my school bus to drop me off after school. To make sure I was safe, as well as to warn and wave his finger at the bus bully who used to love picking on me then.

When I was six and, substantially rounder than my peers, he was the one who told me to remember that it was inner beauty and personality which mattered more, as opposed to physical looks alone.

In my early primary school days, he used to chop up char-siew and other meat into bitesizes and mix them in my rice with gravy all over - so that I could chew with ease and finish my lunch quickly so as not to miss my school bus which would pick me up at 11:30 every afternoon.

He would help me straighten my tie or bow so that I would look smart in school.

He helped me make all the kites I needed to pass up for my art classes - starting from the basic diamond-shaped one in Standard 1 to an impressive wau bulan in Standard 3. Having assisted to make the frame and glue the rice paper, my task was reduced to decorating and painting the said kites.

He occasionally allowed me to tag along with him to run errands in town. We would take the local green or yellow bus (I used to regard this as great adventure when I was a kid) to Komtar and after ticking off the to-do list, he would take me to the Keat Seng coffeeshop on Penang Road for a durian ice-cream ice-kacang, before we hopped on the bus to return home. We would also stop at the hawker stalls opposite Shang Wu to buy laksa or wanton noodles for grandma on our walk from the bus stop back home.

I remember the annual trips to Singapore with him and grandma to visit my uncle. We would take the train which was not equipped with air conditioning back then. Trips would take an entire day with smelly yucky toilets on board. Grandma would boil eggs and buy char siew paus for the journey. But grandpa would inevitably purchase a cup of coffee and maybe some meehoon from the kitchen cabin during the stop in KL and share it with grandma and me. He took me to places of interest such as the science centre, the zoo, the bird park, sentosa island and many more. Again, ice kacang treats were aplenty during my holidays down south. Later on, when my uncle migrated to Aussie, both him and grandma brought bro and I along for a visit as well.

He used to wake up at 5am for his daily walks and marketing - mostly to Rifle Range, but sometimes trodding all the way to Jelutong on foot! He would buy brekkie for grandma and I - making sure that the menu was suitably varied every day - and he was never back later than 8am so that grandma would not be starving and/or overly worried.

He would take his daily afternoon naps and we had to tread around the house with care so as not to disturb him from his rest.

Every 1st and 15th of the Chinese lunar calander, he would faithfully head to the temple in town to offer his prayers. His prayers were so detailed to the extent that if any of his grandchildren were sitting for exams, he would communicate details of the subject, the date and the time of the paper to the gods for their blessings.

He was strict with his diet in his bid to stay healthy, particularly after his heart bypass 14 years ago.

He would make agar-agar, red bean soup, sweet potato soup and other yummy desserts for the family.

He pottered in the garden, tending to his flowers and mango/ papaya trees, despite the numerous protests from grandma to just cut everything down.

He loved to carry out DIY projects, even if it meant doing it behind grandma's back and risk incurring her wrath. This included constructing the prayer alters at home, painting the house and gates for CNY solo even though he was then already in his sixties/ seventies and putting together the doorbell which has been chiming in the house for the last 15 years. Come January every year, he strung up lights and decorated the house with homemade angpow cum new year card decorations and mobiles . And they were truly works of art indeed, which further heightened the atmosphere of the CNY festivities at home.

He religiously kept track of everyone's birth dates every single year.

He was a true gentleman, who wrote beautiful cursive and speaks the Queen's English the colonial way.

He was a staunch supporter of Dr M and regarded the man with much respect.

He took pride in corresponding via letters - I remember writing on behalf of the family to update him on news in Penang whenever he was away on holiday in Aussie. In return, he would always write back and I would then try as best as possible to translate the letter written in English, into Cantonese for my grandma's benefit.

However, he learnt about the internet in his late seventies and thereafter, kept in touch with us all via e-mail regularly. In fact, when he was still well enough, he used to check my blog to see what I have been up to.

He was strict with punctuality and woe-betide those who are late.

He was absolutely devoted to grandma and loved her to bits even after her death.

He was a well respected man, even within the extended family and many look up to him for valued advice.

He was a strong, fit and mentally alert man, till of late.

Gramps passed away at 4:25am @ 22 January 2008. You are a very special person - very much loved, fondly remembered and sorely missed. Rest in peace.


Post a Comment

<< Home