“Dear, don’t bother to come home”

Elaine in the centerI have followed English football since I was in secondary school. I was even in Bolton, England. The closest I got to a football match was shopping at Tesco under the Reebok Stadium. My daughter Elaine does not follow football. She asks the odd question and get answers from me (Arsenal fan), Joshua (Chelsea fan), and Matthew(Liverpool fan). Yet she has entered the Old Trafford of the Manchester United in front of RooneyFootball Club and watched a football match where the host played West Ham Utd. You can call this grace! The person who worked got nothing; the one who was not even looking experienced the Old Trafford atmosphere. I sent her a terse message on her wall in her Facebook, “Dear, if you decide to become a Man Utd fan, don’t bother to come home. Love, Dad” 🙂

Off to Manchester for a semester

bye-bye dinnerMy daughter Elaine went to stay with my wife’s sister and husband, Amy and Mike in Bolton, England. This is the coldest in England in perhaps two decades. All of us are going to miss her but she is all wrapped up in warm comfort and care.

She will be an exchange student in the University of Manchester for a semester. How the Lord opened the way and provided the funds for her to go there is a testimony in itself. We are grateful to God for his undeserved blessings, and theAmy and Mike generosity of friends and family.

We were with her on skype and she looked happy and spoilt! She showed us a smart jacket and some warm turtleneck from sales there- snazzy stuff. We were happy for her and appreciated the Blyths for the love and generosity in hosting her for the period.

As all football fans know, Manchester is the home of the world’s second most famous football club: Manchester City FC. In case you wonder which is the most famous, and greatest, it is Arsenal FC.   🙂

They’re all growing up fast

Christmas event photo
L to R: Joshua, Elaine, Kenny, Wen Mun, Matthew, Wen Por

Wen Por and Wen Mun live in Bangkok and study in an international school there. Their mum, Baby, is my wife’s younger sister, a Singaporean who has worked there, met her husband and now has her home there for over twenty years. Her husband Jack, is Taiwanese, and they run a trading business there. They have visited us over more than a decade now, usually during the Christmas season and they are great to have around. They are very well brought up and well behaved and this time it struck me that they are mature young folk and love doing things young people love doing. They are no longer young kids. So my son and daughter who were on vacation brought them to an overdose of shopping, church events, and activities and I am sure it built strong bonds of love.

My grandparents were from Sarawak

my mum's family of origin: Law family

My wife and I were tidying up our drawers recently and we found some old documents like this photo above and my mum’s family tree. My mum Ada Law, is the girl on the extreme left, next to her frowning mum, my maternal grandmother, Beatrice Kho. The father John Law was probably taking the photo. The interesting thing were the two boys in the front wearing shorts. One was James and the other was Harry. Both went missing during the Japanese Occupation, presumably taken away and killed by Japanese soldiers. My mum before the onset of Alzeihmer’s disease, harboured bitter memories about their deaths.

I also learned that my maternal grandparents and great-grandparents were from Kuching and there are relatives I do not know who still live there. They were all Sarawakians.

Among my aunties was one who married a Malacca man, an Ahmad Derus, who had ten children and twenty-nine grand-children. The aunty, Mable Law, married him, and had one son, Johan, before she passed away. The rest were born to the second wife, a Connie Jacobs. We still have contacts with Johan who married a Japanese woman, lives in Malacca, and owns and runs a Hotel Johan there.

Knowing this also made me think: I must try to visit Sarawak one day. Even if I cannot meet my relatives, I am sure there is a mountain to trek there. 🙂

(This blogpost was first published on August 17th, 2006 and I want to make available this information for myself and posterity by republishing it.)

In memory of my mum, Ada Law

Thanks Lord, for a wonderful mum!No man is poor who has had a godly mother. -Abraham Lincoln

Gathered around hospital bed

One year ago, mum went home to be with the Lord on the morning of 28th October 2008 (Tuesday) at the Salvation Army Peacehaven nursing home. Mum suffered a massive stroke the previous Sunday, and the doctors told us that at age 85 she could not survive an operation, and that she did not have much time left. They were right. We were ready as a family to see her go, and together with our sister who flew in from Germany, and the grandchildren, we gathered around the hospital bed and one by one expressed our goodbyes with words, tears, gestures and prayer . We now thank the Lord that she slipped into glory peacefully and with dignity.

Well-kept home

Mum was an organized woman. She kept O Lord by your grace its possible to raise 4 boys!the home very well. She knew where to find every kitchen utensil and the home always looked neat and clean. The linoleumed floors were handwashed and  the windows were cleaned regularly.

She also enlisted everybody at home to do all the household chores and I guess with five kids, four of them boys, she needed management skills to survive. There was a regimen at home and we had homework time and play time that had to be adhered to. The This daughter and son will serve Me! says the Lordcarrot and stick worked well to maintain discipline at home.

Whipped up fantastic dishes

The kitchen was full of savory scents that made us salivate. We looked forward to mealtimes as she cooked and whipped up fantastic curries, ngoh hiong, chili crab, roasted meats and chicken stew to name a few. Her signature pineapple tarts and butter cake were popular fare among relatives and neighbours as well. As children we delighted in her homemade kaya, coconut candies, tapioca kueh and jelly desserts. All these she managed on a tight budget.

Home-based industry

She was a fine seamstress and used to tailor-make dresses for clients. This was a supplementary source of income for the family. She held dressmaking classes in her home for some rich tai tais of the Shaw family. Besides seeing her over the stove, an not uncommon sight is of her with a measuring tape over her neck, bending over a cloth with a scissors. Later on her skills were put to great use at St Andrew’s Cathedral where she embroidered and maintained the various stoles and linens used to dress the sancutary for the various Christian seasons. That was her ministry with the Thursdayladies fellowship.

I remember how she even made curry powder and sold them in packets. She didn’t make much from this but she took pride in it and was meticulous about the quality and cleanliness of the spices and ingredients. On occasion, I grudgingly helped her carry big packs of dried chili to the Indian grinders and mixers.

She was thrifty and saved and maximized whatever she had. We always had enough for the basics, including tuition for Maths and Mandarin(which did me no good). Her life was generously poured out in the endless sacrifices she made for her children, even after we got married.

Silk and steel

Mum had a pleasant disposition. She was characterized by quiet and calm, patience, and longsuffering. However, she disciplined us with firmness tempered with flexibility, giving us space as we grew into teenagers. Her love could be too tough to the point of frustration. I wince with embarassment when I recall how she once went to the community centre basketball court and in front of my friends, called me home for I was skipping dinner to play ball.

Lord thanks for my parents. Without them where would I be?

An Anglican piety

Her dad was an Anglican and she married my father, Andrew Chee, in St Andrew’s Cathedral but they were not churchgoers though they allowed the children to attend the then Bukit Timah Evangelical Free Church Sunday School when we were young.

When the marriage hit turbulence, she experienced a turn of piety and used to go to Novena on Saturdays to pray. Besides recourse to prayer she had wonderful relatives from both hers and fathers side who generously gave her support and practical help, and this helped her to persevere. Later, she joined the St Andrew’s Cathedral ladies fellowhip, which met on Thursdays, and this was the period where I was pleased to see her faith in Christ renewed and deepened with Bible studies, ministry and the warm fellowship there.

Triumph of faith over dementia

She was also a regular in the St Andrew’s early morning services and even after the onset of dementia, she still went to church regularly under the watchful eyes of Amy the domestic helper, and Lily her sister.

Even when she couldn’t recognize us she would still say, “God bless you”, or remember songs like “Jesus loves me this I know”. Even after the geriartician said her memory has gone zero, her helper Amy saw her woke up in the middle of the night and prayed the whole “Lord’s Prayer” and on another night witnessed her looking out the window and praised God, “I love you, Jesus, I love you Jesus.

Her faith in Christ, and her temperament made her Alzeimer dementia a sweet one. She would often brush her hands on our cheeks and greet us and strangers with a “You are so pretty”. With this kind of temperament, the great caregivers at Peacehaven’s Flamingo found it pleasant to care for her.

Lord, may the seed of the godly receive your blessing

Left behind

Mum left behind four sons, Colin, Julian, Victor, and myself; three daughters in law, Linda, Ai Lee, and Jenny my wife; and one daughter, Beryll (Joyce). And seven grandchildren: Olivia and Keith; Noah and Nathan; Joshua, Matthew and Elaine; all of whom were cared for by her during the early months of their life.

How do I feel now after a year? Less in pain than when her condition was deteriorating rapidly a few years ago. Maybe the grief from her death has been deeply repressed. Memories of her remain strong though. I am grateful for the legacy she left us.

I rejoice knowing of the hope of resurrection we have in the Christian faith. I will see her again face to face.

Her children rise up and call her blessed. – Proverbs 31:28 (RSV)

Off to trek in the Annapura trails in Nepal

nepal

Early this morning I sent my wife and two trekking friends to the Changi airport.Together with nine others they flew off to Kathmandu.

She had been packing for close to a week and even then last night she was at it past midnight, and this morning she was again at it before we went off at 6.20am.

Are women different from men in the way and the amount they pack? Or is it just that my wife would be in the scenic and cool mountains for many many days? When I went two years ago it was for a less than a week. This time they would be trekking about ten days.

How many days would it be before the fun and sense of wonder evaporates, and the drudgery and hardship and longing for ease and laksa kick in?

For me it was the connect with the Creator, and the good company of friends that sublimated the hardship, sacrifices and weariness.

A great incentive was to become toned, healthier, and to have achieved it while enjoying a holiday.

As I waved goodbye to them I felt a tinge of longing to be with them. Nostalgia descended as I viewed slides of two years ago.

Have a look, and consider planning a different kind of vacation one day.


Jewels of Nepal from Blogpastor on Vimeo.