Tribute To Death

NOT TOO LONG ago, I came across the news of the demise of a journalist from my former workplace, The Star. I don’t know RG personally but have seen her bylines before. RG died of a heart attack in August. She was only 48 and left behind two teenage children.

This brought me back to April 2011 when I stumbled upon an obituary of an acquaintance I made in 2009 in Macau. Though we only met once, Dr. Faustina – a dentist by profession – left a lasting sweet impression. Sadly, two years later, she’s dead at 48 and left behind two young children then.

And also recently, I read that a cameraman from another former workplace (a TV station), died in a freak accident. He was 48 too.

I am not too far from 48. I have two kids too. Silly to be saying this, but “Will my time be up soon?”

Star2 paid tribute to RG in a news article in September, overflowing with beautiful and kind words about her. Sadly, she will never get to read them.

I turned to my girls and shared with them this piece of news. And I told them, “If you have anything nice to say about Mommy, please tell me when I am still alive, not when I am dead!” To which, Little Em immediately responded, “I always do”… which is true.

That evening, Big M – a teenager with few words and normally hibernates in her room – remained next to me. She even took the other half of my ear plug while I was listening to Seo In Guk’s “I Can’t Live Because of You”. Together we listened to it, over and over and OVER again (it was on replay mode), as we read some online news. She even agreed that it was a catchy song; while Little Em hugged me tight as always.

(PS. At this stage in life when a teenager and a mom rarely see eye to eye, an agreement on a song choice – a Mom’s choice at that – is akin to striking lottery!)

Often, when the time comes to pay tribute to a dead friend, one finds it hard to express one’s thoughts on the spot. But over the years, tributes have come in the most unexpected form and even at times during common conversations. I have saved letters, emails and phone messages friends have sent me through the years, and thought they would make nice tributes when I am gone. It also saves them the trouble of thinking what “nice” things to say about me when I am really dead!

Here’s one I treasure…

“I was reading a copy of Calvin & Hobbes today. When I came to the last page, I realised then that it was a birthday gift from you. You wrote a lovely note: “Unlike Hobbes who is an imaginary friend, we are real friends. Thank you!” Its pages are yellowing a bit but it is most precious to me, esp now that the years have gone by. It’s such a wonderful, wonderful keepsake now.” … A wonderful “keepsake” phone message from FYP, 18 Nov 2013.

Others that I treasure are keepsake cards from my schoolmates of four decades, whom I paid tribute to in The Best of PESS.

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September in Accra, 2014

MEMORIES OF SEPTEMBER in Accra included a visit to the museum and art centre, three birthdays, several clinic/lab trips, a farewell, lots of reunions and a long-lost friend found; and countless hours on WA chats; a broken water pump and alarm (no thanks to the rain and constant electricity cuts/surge).

Medication madness from our clinic visits… Little Em was down with fever early in the month and skipped school three days while Big M battled with severe eczema this month, a second dermatologist was consulted, and several visits followed. (Sept 2014)

Medication madness from our clinic visits… Little Em was down with fever early in the month and skipped school three days while Big M battled with severe eczema this month, a second dermatologist was consulted, and several visits followed. (Sept 2014)

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As soon as she recovered, Little Em hosted her first playdate. (6 Sept 2014)

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Little Em with her favourite My Little Pony’s Rarity (6 Sept 2014)

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The spouses’ group bade a tearful goodbye to member Koko (who was cross-posted to Chile) on an afternoon that saw all of us sporting Nigerian headgear gele. (9 Sept 2014)

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On Malaysia Day, we were in the news. (16 Sept 2014)

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Food blessings… a friend gave me these huge bitter gourds which her husband grew in their garden (17 Sept); fresh oyster mushrooms from a local friend who also grew them on her farm (18 Sept 2014)

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Made a trip to the National Museum with two ladies (entrance was GHC20 each for foreigners; GHC5 for locals); Gloria the guide took us through the history of Ghana. (25 Sept 2014)

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Prior to that we checked out the Arts Centre, Accra for local souvenirs and handicrafts. (Sept 2014)

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Little Em celebrated her birthday in school with Frozen cupcakes (Sept 2014)

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Back home, September birthday gals included AhYee who turned 50 (15 Sept 2014), photo of her birthday cupcakes with luxury items were from last year; while Kim Kim had a fiesta with the kids on her birthday (26 Sept 2014).

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Back home, September was a winning  month for Mel and Ian who participated in two contests and won prizes. Well done!… reminds me of my contest-craze days too.

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Mel and Ian with their certificates and voucher prize.

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Back home, a school turned 100 in September 2014.

September was a walk down memory lane as my alma mater celebrated its 100th birthday in the SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner on 20 September 2014. The reunion of old friends back home led me to find a long-lost Standard One friend, our last contact being 33 years ago.

More Reunion Rounds

THE SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner may have been over last Saturday, but the reunion mood is obviously still in the air.

Last night, there was another round of reunion amongst my friends over dinner, this time with three former teachers – one from Standard One (38 years ago), and two others from secondary school (29 years ago).

The teachers have obviously managed to keep well and young too, while the students have matured gracefully.

In the Grand Imperial Restaurant, 1Utama, a grand reunion took place. Who are the teachers, who are the students? (27 Sept 2014)

In the Grand Imperial Restaurant, 1Utama, a grand reunion took place. Who are the teachers, who are the students? (27 Sept 2014)

Earlier in the day, my four older siblings made a trip back to their primary school in Jalan Ipoh. A school that was opened in 1963, it is now in dire need of funds to upkeep it.

My older brother naturally have a special bond with the school as he was the Head Boy in Std 6 (over four decades ago) before going to Victoria Institution. My eldest sister completed her primary education there while the other two did mid-way before transferring to PEPS and eventually PESS.

This is the WHOLE school population, including the ex-students who paid a visit to the school. The student population stands at 69 only! (27 Sept 2014)

This is the WHOLE school population, including the ex-students who paid a visit to the school. The student population stands at 69 only! (27 Sept 2014)

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Former students meet current students… they also did their bit giving back to the school and handed out goody bags to the students.

Meanwhile, in two continents, three locations and eight hours apart… Accra – Petaling Jaya – Port Dickson… another little reunion took place among three Standard One friends (one was the long lost friend from 33 years ago) via WA chats. And just like a fairy tale, they chatted happily ever after. 🙂

WAN Great Scientist

FRANKLY, AN ARTICLE entitled “How one resourceful team of scientists coordinated their attack on a chicken bug” wouldn’t grab my attention.

The Star Features, 24 September 2014

The Star Features, 24 September 2014

But a face like this would!

The Star Features, 24 September 2014

The Star Features, 24 September 2014

That’s WAN happy professor and understandably so, with a decade of research and hard work finally paid off and sowing results. This is no chicken feat and poultry farmers owe him (and the team) big time!

We are proud of this WAN great scientist, and that goes for the whole WAN siblings, all very terror WAN.

Besides a great scientist, this prof is also an avid photographer, seen here taking pictures of the WAN clan and their other halves… 25 Jan 2012 

Besides a great scientist, this prof is also an avid photographer, seen here taking pictures of the WAN clan and their other halves… 25 Jan 2012

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(L) Cousins got together in this CNY 2012 pix; (R) The ladies – including the wife and another terror WAN.

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(L) Even these little ones felt at home at the chicken coop but Little A didn’t think so (R)… 25 Jan 2012.

Vandort Shield Winners

The SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner held last Saturday 20 September 2014 was a night to remember. I was glad that all four of my sisters attended the historic occasion.

Photos are still being shared by thoughtful friends, and as I was looking at them, I was able to pick out five past Vandort Shield winners.

(L-R) Ms. Lee Chii Nuo (1972 recipient, who became a teacher and dedicated her life to PESS and will retire next year) with my classmate SQ;  Lim Ooi Meng (1985 recipient) with my classmate NC; Kong Soke Yue (1987 recipient) with SQ, at SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner, 20 Sept 2014.

(L-R) Ms. Lee Chii Nuo (1972 recipient, who became a teacher and dedicated her life to PESS and will retire next year) with my classmate SQ;  Lim Ooi Meng (1985 recipient) with my classmate NC; Kong Soke Yue (1987 recipient) with SQ, at SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner, 20 Sept 2014.

(L) My dear friends - NC, LL, WK and BM - in another photo with Ooi Meng… I suppose this made up for missing OK, another one of our good friend who is in Australia. And now I see the lovely shades of pink and purple, and black too :-) ; (R) From my sister’s batch, 1981 Vandort Shield recipient Miaw In (left in pix) with a friend, at the SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner, 20 Sept 2014.

(L) My dear friends – NC, LL, WK and BM – in another photo with Ooi Meng… I suppose this made up for missing OK, another one of our good friend who is in Australia. And now I see the lovely shades of pink and purple, and black too 🙂 ; (R) From my sister’s batch, 1981 Vandort Shield recipient Miaw In (left in pix) with a friend, at the SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner, 20 Sept 2014.

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(L) A family of four librarians, three school chess players, three prefects, two assistant head girls and a Vandort Shield winner (Bee Buan, 1984 recipient). (R) And the 1986 recipient shared their moments from Africa.

The list of Vandort Shield recipients in the school hall. (Taken on 21 Sept 2013).

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The Vandort Shield (named after Mrs. Murial Vandort) is “an annual school award presented to a fifth former student who not only excelled academically but is also active in extra-mural activities. Any fifth former student who is outstanding (excluding the school captain) is eligible for this honour. Miss Chin Kwee Thai, an outstanding fifth former, was the first student to receive this award in the year 1969.”