Either we are moving too slowly and time has caught us off guard, or time is moving at a relentless, breathtaking pace.
We celebrated dad’s 70th birthday. That was not too long ago. Then, his 80th came along and we all celebrated with him. All his siblings were with him. Aunty Maureen and Uncle Ronnie (& Aunty Maryjane) in Malaysia. Uncle Pat, Uncle Al and Aunty Val, all residing in Perth, Western Australia; made the trip for that very special occasion. At the end of his celebration on that day; we said we will look forward to his 90th. Phew! That seemed like (like?. Oh no… my English is like getting infiltrated like by the looks of things) only yesterday.
Childhood years were spent growing up in Ipoh (1). A lad of St Michael’s Institution, he was known for his skills at cricket.
In the picture above, he was already in the army and was doing a stint in Sandhurst.
Their Silibin home (the picture above) was their last home in Ipoh before they moved to Kuala Lumpur (2) in the mid-1950s.
Their move to Kuala Lumpur was not without fanfare from what I hear from his cousin, Percival (Percy) Reyes and my cousin, Dato’ Seri Jeffrey Raymond.
The Atkinsons moved in with the Reyes on Lorong Hicks, next door to the Gomes residence. Uncle Gerald Reyes (Percy’s father) was my grandmother’s (dad’s mother) youngest brother.
On several meet-ups with Percy and Dato’ Seri Jeffrey separately, they would fondly reminisce on the past when they stayed in Lorong Hicks. Percy would have been in his teens at that time. Jeffrey, much younger; is the son of mom’s elder sister, Aunty Flory. Now, Percy and Jeffrey most probably have not met up for decades, even till today. But they both talked fondly about this young army officer in his spruced up uniform that would stop the world in its tracks whenever he came home from his postings.
Hence (a very old English word), mum and dad got married in 1956. If that did not happen, then my siblings and I won’t be here. Naturally, the Gomes family approved of him immediately because he had a couple of aces up his sleeve – he could sing and read music. I think that was more important to them than knowing the ABC alphabet, as “music” and “Gomes” were more often than not, in the same sentence.
Jennifer, Nigel, Terence, Malcolm and I; grew up with music almost 24 x 7. Classical, western, rock n roll, choirs, music bands. And music is very much with Laura (Jeannie’s and my daughter) and her cousins, too.
Fast forward…. May 10, 2022. Dad’s 90th birthday. Dad turned 90 today, marking the beginning of his 91st year. Papa (my grandfather), dad’s father; always looked at birthdays that way.
The fourth generation Atkinsons (the grandkids); organised a birthday celebration last Saturday (May 8th) at dad’s & mum’s home in Klang. Aunty Maureen, Uncle Ronnie and Aunty Maryjane joined in the celebration, too. Terence was not well, so he and Mabel could not make it. Latest update today: he has almost fully recovered.
Dad gave an articulated, off the cuff speech. His mind is sharp. He thanked all of us, especially the organisers for that evening, for being there on that day.
Now, into his 91st. He still phones his siblings here and in Australia; us – his children, our spouses and his grandchildren; regularly, to find out how we are faring. He may not be able to waltz the whole ballroom away with mum, now; but I won’t put it past him, that he may do the famous “Eustace Atkinson twist” if prompted to.
We, his family; are looking forward to his 100th. Cheers, dad!
- Ipoh is a city in the state of Perak, Malaysia
- Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia