The time: slightly after 4pm. It was a breezy, slightly warm Saturday afternoon in Cyberjaya. The sun was out but there were clouds that provided some nice shade.
We were greeted by this sign, “Happy 90th Birthday, Cik Ani Sayang; 15th October, 2022” at the front of world renowned celebrity Chef Wan’s residence.
There were many guests of all ages, which mainly made up his family members, friends, business partners and work colleagues.
Chef Wan was his usual self – entertainer extraordinaire. Datuk Redzuawan Bin Ismail, better known as Chef Wan, is a world-renowned chef.
Jeannie got to meet with many she knows in the food industry, many of whom she had worked with in tv production shows and commercials.
The very regal Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom D.K., the Sultanah of Pahang; helped lead the way on the dance floor, too. She showed the ladies some smooth moves.
Chef Wan was the perfect host. He went around making sure that the food, was displayed attractively, was made to his highest standards and there were no empty serving plates, that the food was replenished even before the plates were empty. Chef was was assisted by his son, Chef Nazri.
Everyone had immense enjoyment – the evidence was the smiles on people’s faces, laughter that could be heard everywhere in the house, the enormous spread of good food…I can go on and on. We can all agree this event was “Signature Chef Wan”. Fantastico!
How can you give when you’ve given all you’ve got?
You’re giving is not a bottomless pit, or an overflowing endless waterfall, though it may seem like that it is one.
During that time of giving, you did not spend much time in replenishing your giving, all that was out.
It was Uncle Gerald’s (mum’s brother) birthday yesterday, September 19th. Jeannie and I paid him a visit. As we got near the home, we actually overshot it by a few doors. I think it was because the familiar sign “No visitors allowed” was not up any longer.
We were told by one of the caregiver’s to go in straight to his room. This is a fairly new term to me – “caregiver”. I was first introduced to this term when dad came out of hospital after the accident he had over a year and a half ago, where he slipped, fell and injured his leg. The hospital had a metal plate bolted on him with screws, I think.
Sorry, I took a short ice-cream break – I had a Magnum “Belgian Chocolate Luxe” – Magnum’s best ice-cream with rich, dark chocolate ice-cream inside. The outside is Magnum’s signature chocolate body. This one is dotted with crisp rice pops. I love it! The dark chocolate ice-cream is supposed to be the consoling part – dark chocolate…healthier than normal chocolate. Whatever…! It was madnessly sweet.
It just so happened that I passed by a mirror after finishing the Magnum “Belgian Chocolate Luxe”. Deng! Deng! Deng! For a few what seemed like very long milliseconds, I could only see my stomach. Like an after thought, the rest of me followed. I am trying not to feel too guilty here. Like most days. I skipped breakfast and lunch, went for my brisk 10km walk (clocked a favourable time), weighed in at 72kg (1.5kg overweight), picked Jeannie up from work and had two roti canai with some fried chicken at The Taj Curry House. So, it should be good, right?
Uncle Gerald was so happy to see us. He told us that my brother Malcolm, our cousin’s son, William; and a few others had visited him. He also had many calls come in, even while we were there.
At 87, he had resigned himself to a small room with his bed, a 2-door wardrobe for his clothes, and a small sort of cupboard for his valuable and other belongings. He had a small Samsung Tablet and his smartphone to keep him in touch with the world; just like his father, Oli Papa, my grandfather on my mother’s side.
Oli Papa had been blind for about 50 years. Everyday, he would sit by his PIE radio and tune in to the radio stations around the world to keep him abreast with the latest that was going on in the world.
Uncle Gerald donated his big house to the church, sold whatever he could sell and donated that money away. Now, confined to his room, he spends time on his tablet. I wonder if he stays in his room because there are quite a few eligible ladies staying in that house with him. I am sure they may want to share more than a few bible verses with him. Uncle Gerald never married. So, here’s his chance to go dating.
A teacher before, he still applies that method of explanation for most things. He throws in a few metaphors here and there. His diction of the English language, the Queen’s English, i.e.; is at its best, as usual.
Uncle Gerald longs for all his nephews, nieces, other family members and friends to visit him. He welcomes all visitors and will scratch off all his scheduled plans for the day, just to spend time with those who visit him. His mind and memory are still sharp so he will know you are when you visit him.
Should he have gone to stay in a home? I don’t think he should have thrown in the towel just yet. He probably did not explore all avenues before he did so. This is only my view. I may not have delved deeply into the underlying factors as to why the old folks home. There may be a fair maiden there, we never know. He may just pull a rabbit out of the hat.
NOTES: Founding Member of “The Gomes Kids Of Lorong Hicks Road” – 1930s, Japanese Occupation of Malaya: WW2, 1950s
Mum turns 85 years old today, June 14th. Woo hoo hoo! And Dad just turned 90 last month. Bee bup a lula…
We, (mum’s children in case you may be wondering who the “we” are. Not the French meaning for “yes’😉) that is Terence and his wife Mabel, and their daughter, Ashley; Malcolm and his wife Uma; our sister, Jennifer’s (deceased) husband, Ray; our brother Nigel’s (deceased) wife, Shirley and their daughter, Sarah; me and my wife, Jeannie; gathered (better word than “assembled”😏) last Saturday (June 11th) with dad and mum in Klang; to have an early birthday celebration for mum. As for the rest of the family – Laura is in the U.S. (She will be calling mum today to wish her); Alana, Tim and Jay were working.
While dad potters around with things to do and looks for every (I could be overly dramatic here) excuse…reason… to run on an errand, no matter how small it may be; mum busies herself with cake making – the lady that makes the best butter cake in the world; umpteenth year running 🏆💖. Woo hoo hoo…Do the walk…
Mum quite often reminisces her younger days, especially when she was very young and a few years later, in school.
When she was around 5 years old, the Japanese defeated the British in Malaya, who at that time occupied Malaya (part of the British empire) which is current day Peninsula Malaysia. Thus, they, the Japanese; took over occupying Malaya. This was the period during World War 2 (WW2). Mum, together with her elder brothers and sisters, and their neighbourhood friends; were the kids of Lorong Hicks Road.
They used to play in the street. When the air raid sirens sounded; all the kids would run to the nearby Bukit Nanas hill forest, jump into the dug-out trenches and stay there until the air raid sirens stopped. She said the braver boys would run up to the top of the hill to watch the British bomber planes (aeroplanes / airplanes) bomb parts of KL (Kuala Lumpur) which presumably would have been where the Japanese military army were and perhaps the railway station and tracks in Bangsar, and also the railway yard in Sentul.
Mum remembered how the Japanese soldiers would come to their house, as well as other houses in the neighbourhood; looking for girls to take away to fulfil the lust and other unimaginable deeds of these said soldiers. Her late father (“Oli Papa”, my grandfather), would hide her and her sisters under his king-size bed, and cover the bed whenever the Japanese soldiers came to their house. Oli Papa’s bed was one of those beds which was quite high off the ground.
At the end of WW2, the British recaptured Malaya from the grasp of the Japanese occupation when the Japanese surrendered. Mum said the same Japanese officers and soldiers that used to terrorize them, were made to cut grass with small scissors by the British soldiers.
Mum was a student of the famed Bukit Nanas Girls’ school, which was near her house. She, her sisters and friends used to walk to and from school. Over the many years since leaving school; she had managed to connect with some of her classmates. Her most recent connection is one, Ms Stephanie Pinto. “Recent” means, August 2020.
“Hi Alan, tq for your prompt reply. I was going to call Mum, but glad I waited a while. Now I have more news to share with her. Yes I knew Mum’s birthday was on Sunday, 14th June and that she just turned 83. I will be 84 in August and Mum never fails to call me on my birthday. Your Mum always was and is a very sweet lady and a dear friend. Mum was a very good dancer and had many, many friends, but Dad was the lucky chosen one. We had many good times together and we laughed and a lot. Those were the days when we were so carefree, happy and enjoyed innocent fun.” ~ Whatsapp message from Aunty Stephanie; June 17, 2020.
There will definitely be more wonderful memories and stories from mum to come soon.
All of us, her family, wish mum a very happy 85th birthday; with God’s choicest blessings on her. We love you mum💖.
NOTES: KL Sentral which is in today’s Bangsar; is the central hub where the various main forms of land transport converge and connect to the rest of Peninsula Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur railway station is very nearby to KL Sentral, but it has lost its importance as a centre for railway transport activity. The railway yard in Sentul, still plays a very role for the railway. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May the peoples of this world strive to be at peace with each other always. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The photographs of yester-year is courtesy of dad.
“Alan, don’t send the stuff yet bcos the nurse said I can go home for the rest of my quarantine and that op will be done by Jabatan Kesihatan (1) near me.”
“I was told that since mine was Stage 1, I had to go home to make room for those who were in Stage 4 or 5.
So, the only problem is how am I to go back with the pink bracelet on? The nurse suggested that someone drive my car to the hospital and leave the keys at the reception. They will send the keys up to me. Then, that someone could follow my car till I reached home.”
I called Shirley and asked her to get his car ready. I would be over in half an hour to pick it up.
I was kind of nervous as to how to deal with this matter when I got to the hospital. On one hand, I did not quite like the idea of handing the car keys to a stranger at the hospital reception. On the other hand, I only had my 1st vaccine jab; my second was over a month and a half away. I did not want to have direct contact and be exposed to the virus myself and possibly spread it to others that I come in contact with.
I parked his car as close to the designated entrance / exit for covid-19 as possible. I left the car keys on the top of the car and waited for him.
As he came out of the exit, which was like a side door or rear of the hospital (this section of the hospital was specially cordoned off as a unit to receive and discharge patients in relation to the treatment of Covid-19); I was happy to see him. We kept a distance of about 5 metres apart and talked for a bit. “I am getting a ride back from Ganesan, (who was parked a couple of cars away). We will follow you back to Subang Jaya to ensure you get home safely, I told him.”
All this took place on July 29th, 2021 – the second last time I would see him. At this time, he was sporting a pink hand band; not by choice but a requirement to identify people with Covid-19.
A few days later, I realized that the Discharge Note from the hospital was still with me. I texted him to let him know that it was with me.
Wednesday, August 4th, 2021; was pink-band removal day. Mid-morning, I get a phone call. “I am at the KMM (3) centre in Shah Alam. They want the hospital Discharge Note as proof of when I was discharged from the hospital.” He sounded quite irritated. I told him that I was at home, that he could come over to pick up the Discharge Note.
He was at my gate in twenty minutes. I put the Discharge Note in an envelope and placed the envelope on the top of the gate’s pillar. Then, I stepped back from the pillar. I did not hand it to him directly as we were maintaining a safe distance between us. He took the envelope, showing his irritation that he had to wait quite a while at the centre before he was attended to; then to be told that he needed to provide this Discharge Note before he could have the pink band officially cut off.
As I watched him walked to his car and get in, I noticed that he grimaced with pain. As he drove off, I never would have guessed that it would be the last time I would see him…ever.
Celebrating his birthday last Sunday (April 24th) in a small way, was special for Jeannie and me. Nigel loved family gatherings, and he loved simple food with a condition – it had to be local and savoury. So, we celebrated his birthday at Tokyo Secret, a restaurant in Mid-Valley Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur (5).
Tokyo Secret is known for their Hanjuku cheese tarts. I deliberately did not use that phrase “people say that it is …ok ok, I will say it “famous”. Who are these “people”? I did not think much of the cheese tart, but that is just me. Nigel would have liked it, after he had his nasi lemak.
Happy Birthday, Nigel! We can hear you say “Goooddd times!” We celebrate this occasion with one of your favourite songs.
Jabatan Kesihatan is Bahasa Malaysia for Health Ministry in Malaysia.
Part of this article was written at the motor workshop while waiting for my e46 engine to be repaired. Something about another coil konking out, having replaced 2 coils earlier on. This time it was #2 coil.
“Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia” is Bahasa Malaysia for Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
Subang Jaya and Shah Alam are cities in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
28 years ago (actually, a day to 28 years); on January 19th, 1994; I was in Subang Jaya and I called up this lady / girl / gal and told her I was nearby her office, just around the corner. Her office was then in MUI Plaza, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur. As those of you who are familiar with Subang Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, know that the distance between them – definitely not a stone’s throw away. But heck, I wanted to get a date with this lady. I asked her out for lunch and she said, “yes”!
Now, I was in a bit of a fix. It was about an hour to her lunchtime and I had to maneuver through what Kuala Lumpur was notorious for: it’s massive traffic jams.
Somehow; this lady had magical powers
as I managed to get to her office in time that was thinner than a strand of hair. No coincidence that her name was Jeannie. I don’t believe in coincidences.
By the way, lunch was at Macdonald’s at The Weld, which was the building just next door to MUI Plaza. We had prosperity burgers (Chinese New Year, ma! Got to throw in a few “ma”s and “meh”s to flavorize the sentences – Chinese style). I still remember the dress she wore that day.
Though I knew a lot about things at that time (I was a life insurance agent and was supposed to know just about everything. The truth is I didn’t, and still don’t. I am trying to figure out how an atom is formed [nah! At one time maybe, no longer now]); I didn’t know it was her birthday. And, she didn’t tell me until I found out several days later.
Jeannie and I started dating and the rest as “they” (not sure who they are) say, is history.
As you can see, our lives are surrounded by family and the many celebrations like birthdays.
Jeannie has always had the Jeannie’s touch with people – with family and friends; with people from the world over. She is very approachable and adapts and assimilate with the cultures very easily.
As you may have guessed by now, it is Jeannie’s birthday 🎂 today. Laura video-called from the U.S., 3 minutes before midnight of today, to bring in and start the celebrations. She and I, together with our families; have been blessed with Jeannie in our lives. May Jeannie be blessed with God’s choicest blessings🙏 today and many, many more awe-inspiring years to come.