LAURA ATKINSON: In Search of the American Dream


For those of you who don’t know, I graduated from Millikin University with a degree in Entrepreneurship in December. I am an international student from Malaysia, on an OPT visa, available to start immediately, and will not require an H-1B visa sponsorship until next February. I have spent the last five months furiously applying for jobs in Illinois and so many other states in the US. Each week, I complete an average of 2 to 3 interviews for various positions. Despite graduating with a 3.84 GPA, being involved in student-run ventures, multiple organizations on campus, and being a collegiate athlete for Millikin, I have so far been denied for many positions and have yet to hear back from many positions that I have applied/interviewed for.

Most of the positions I have recently applied to are part-time and pay minimum wage. They do not require high school diplomas or skilled experience.

Just over 3 and a half years ago, I took the risk of flying to a different country, almost 10,000 miles away from my family, my friends, my home. I was raised hearing that America was the Land of Opportunity, that if I rollup up my sleeves and put my nose to the grindstone, I could find a job that I love and a place to call home. I came to find the American Dream but am still searching for it. I am putting myself out there and applying for hundreds of jobs. I want to be able to give back to this country by working here, and my parents who are back home in Malaysia.

All this is to say that

A) I am in immediate need of either remote work and am willing to relocate to any state and

B) Many fresh international graduates want to work.

We are applying tirelessly to work and are getting rejected because we would require a visa sponsorship in the future. Even with jobs that do sponsor a visa, they require 8-10 years of experience. If you or someone you know is in charge of hiring at a workplace right now, I encourage you to consider hiring a young international person. We work hard to achieve our goals and now want to get hired.

Hire me, you’ll thank me later.

NOTE: Please help make this viral.

The Swim Athlete’s Future

Lap after lap. 3, 4, 5 kilometers a day in the pool. Day after day…week after week…month after month.

At 9 years old, wanted to be world champion. Forgoing parties, events and other fun things.

In the water, lap after lap after lap. 20 meters…50 meter lengths.

School holidays and other holidays – the same.

Personal times for her 50 meter and 100 meter pet events kept dropping… So did the times of her other events. Kept on improving. Kept moving up the heats… From the 1st heat in the very beginning… Kept moving up the heat charts. When she reached the last 3 heats in her events at each championship race, the state athletes at that time started paying attention to her. A new kid on the block as competition.

13 years old. A big responsibility added on. Selected to represent the state team. Swim and training was now an average 9 times a week (twice each on Saturday and Sunday).

Kept on at it. Times kept improving. Was a contributor towards the team’s many championship wins. Within a short period of time, reached the top 3 in the country for her age group. Broke individual and relay records all along the way.

Graduated from high school. Went on to further her studies in the U.S.

Was on the university’s swimming team. Helped the university move up the swim charts. Set individual and relay records for the university.

There were many ups and downs, bumpy roads, disappointments, total excitement and joy throughout her swim athlete, school and university story. She held fast to her belief in herself and her goals. She had fun. It was not so much just about the “winning”. It was the “experiences” take away: winning yes, also teamwork, sharing and building relationships with various people along the way.

The role of parents? Support, love, care, support. Always be enthusiastic for your children. Driving them to 3-hour daily training and then back.

As parents, we have to continuously encourage them, even on the days they may be tempted by non-athletes to skip training. My wife and I use to tell our daughter, “your fiercest competitor will be training while you are thinking of missing it. The decision is yours. What is the end result you want?”

Be with them, cheering them on; even if it means spending 15 hours at a swim meet, each day on a three- or four-day championship.

Past and current swim athletes, when looking back; can relate to this “grueling lifestyle” during their swim career. When looking back they can smile, joke about the times their energy was completely spent and they still had 25 meters of the race to go, times when they lost and the many times when they won both in the pool and out of the pool. About the times they literally had fun.

Now, graduated – B. Sc. Entrepreneurship. Looking for a job in the U.S. With 16 years of swim athlete experience and an Entrepreneurship studies degree; she wants to share her experiences by applying them in the work that she will be doing.

Now, she takes with her a way of discipline in doing things, a “never give up” character and the bright side of things when she goes employment hunting.

~ Dedicated to Laura Atkinson

The 15th Day

Chap Goh Mei which is today, is the last day of the Chinese Lunar Year celebrations or Chinese New Year. The day is celebrated similarly to the day before Chinese New Year, it is celebrated with much joy and festivity. This is the year of the Rabbit. The rabbit (兔) is the fourth in the twelve-year periodic sequence (cycle) of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. (1) The sign of Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. (2)

On the night of Chap Goh Meh, unmarried girls will throw tangerines (oranges) in the sea or river in the belief that they will be able to marry good husbands. I don’t know how the guys could identify which tangerine belonged to which girl “in those days”. Today, maybe the girls will write their name, telephone number and Instagram or TikTok ID (Facebook is for senior citizens, so they’ll skip adding their Facebook ID) on each and every tangerine with permanent ink pen markers.

Jeannie and I decided to celebrate this last day of festivities in a small way. We went to Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre in Subang Jaya. (3)

Since Laura is away in the U.S.; we decided to stop by at one of her favorite stores in this shopping Centre – Popular Book Store. Laura loved to shop for stationery especially in this store – pens, pencils, color pencils, magic ink, glitter ink, various types of writing and note books, and drawing pads. She had hundreds of these writing instruments in various shades, sizes and color. She is quite the artist, too; follows after her mother. Me? I can’t draw two straight lines with a ruler. We had quite a good time. Jeannie and I purchased a few items.

We had coffee at the Oriental Kopitiam (4) (naturally. It wouldn’t have been so traditional if we had coffee at Starbucks, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or at the mamak (5)). We had to have Oriental Kopitiam’s signature coffee. It was pretty good. We had butter with kaya on toast bread – one of the usual eats when one drinks kopitiam coffee. I had to also have Black Glutinous Rice or in aspirated local terms, “Pulut hitam”. Simply one of my favorites. It had two sort of glutinous balls with black sesame paste inside. People: it’s worth the try.

Jeannie spent a bit of time at her favorite stores; too. I…yes; at the gadget stores. Nothing really much going on in this area. You can find loads of interesting and cool new gadgets on the web, but they hardly seem to make their way to this part of the world.

5 hours later, we were on our way home. It was a great way to spend our Sunday afternoon, relaxed and had fun.

Jeannie and I with three gold boat-shaped ingots (part of the deco).

Year of the Rabbit.

I know, I know… I am not suppose to be on the bridge, but under it, waiting to collect oranges…er.. I mean find “that special orange thrown over by a lenglui” (6). I figure that since I am already spoken for; I might as well collect as many oranges from the lenglui(s). The guys aren’t waiting under the bridge. They are at home on their phones or PS5 games.😁

1. Wikipedia
3. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
4. “Kopitiam”: a coffee house serving traditional Malay and Chinese fare.
5. “Mamak”: Mamak stalls are indoor and open-air food establishments particularly found in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia.
6. “Lenglui”: Pretty girl.


A dream remains a dream unless you act on it.

Laura was like any other 12 year old girl, back in year 2013. Maybe, a bit different than most others. She had goals and she had determination. When she was 9 years old, she declared that she wanted to be a world champion swimmer. Three years later, she was still as determined as ever in getting there.

Her coach told her that she would need to go to the U.S., to train amongst the best to have a shot at being world champion. That is what she decided she would do.

Laura quickly rose the ranks to be amongst the top 3 breaststroke swimmers for her age group in Malaysia. At the same time, she kept abreast with the latest swim developments in the U.S.

In 2019, she was focused on Entrepreneurial Studies and swimming. Millikin University was the perfect fit.

Millikin University presented her a programme which allowed her and other students to explore, grow and develop ideas and at the same time, pursue competitive swimming, representing Millikin Swimming.


Laura Kristen Atkinson; B. Sc. Graduate, Millikin University
Dec 11th, 2022
With our ever gracious hosts; Dr Molly and Dr Alan Duesterhaus
Laura, with her college mates: Pete, Amanda and Kelli
All of us

Now, as the next phase or chapter of her life begins; Laura is actively working towards achieving them.

So, if your young child has fuzzy ideas, and says that he wants to be a paleontologist, or an inventor that will come up with a control to keep all A.I. machines in check; or she wants to be a world renowned fashion designer; help them develop that interest. You may just never know…



RCIA does have its perks, so it looks. In late 1993, this young lady, attending one of the two RCIA groups; caught my eye. I was one of the facilitators for the group.

Visited Jeannie in her hometown in Kampar, Perak during Chinese New Year in February, 1994. Spent the whole day with her. She took me sightseeing to all the local spots, including the railway station.

The Kampar railway station must have done the trick.

The Mandarin ducks.
One of the countries Jeannie and I visited on our first trip to Europe, was The Netherlands. This was part of a European tour we caught from London, England. So, on this trip in The Netherlands, we toured Amsterdam and stayed for the night. Our hotel was by one of the many canals Amsterdam is famous for. Our room was on the ground floor, with a large sliding door leading out to a sort of garden and beyond that was the canal.

We saw many Mandarin ducks in the garden. So, we crushed some cracker biscuits and started feeding these ducks with the crumbs. We soon ran out of crumbs and walked back to our room. The Mandarin ducks followed us back, too. We had to close the sliding door quickly to prevent the ducks from coming in. The ducks were pecking at the glass door and only went away after a long while.

This was a bedtime story that Laura loved to listen. Almost every night for many years, she would ask for this same story. She always had the same enthusiasm about it and never got tired of it.

Laura, this is the first time, ever; you are seeing the pictures below of these Mandarin ducks. Searched high and low for them until I found them.

The story of the mandarin ducks.
The mandarin ducks coming up the porch of our room in Amsterdam, Holland.

9.15am, Wednesday, June 27th, 2001; a child was born. We named her Laura Kristen Atkinson

What joy! What blessings! Laura Kristen Atkinson

Laura’s baptism, August 2001. With us are her godparents; Dato’ Seri Jeffrey and Datin Seri Joyce Raymond.

Laura: I thought he was supposed to see that I sleep.

Anne Reburn: I want To Hold Your Hand


Camera shy. Not really.
Yes, I am cute.

With Grandma and Grandpa Atkinson


About to show her “Zhang Ziyi” martial arts stunts. She’s dressed for it. Location: A park in Perth, Western Australia.
Christmas 2007: Christmas caroling with her cousin, Sarah.

She’s up to something! ❤️
On one of our river cruises in Perth, Western Australia
Check out my shades

Freemantle, Western Australia

Arriving at Clark International Airport, The Phillipines in 2005

Beaconhouse Kindergarten. Laura was one of the 7 pioneer students for the Beaconhouse brand in Malaysia.
All of the June birthday celebrants. Laura, Kenneth de Souza and Joel D’Cruz are all on June 27th.

Graduation from Beaconhouse pre-school in 2007.

With her cousin Justin Ow.

One for the camera

…and another😏😉❤️

The competitor in her.

At the Ferrari store, opposite Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II , Duomo; in Milan, Italy.

In Venice, Italy; during the Carnevale di Venezia (Italian for The Carnival of Venice) An annual festival that ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Laura drew this with an app on my Samsung Note 2, when she was 10 years old.

Club Med beach in Terengganu, Malaysia

Cousins from the Ong side.
Cousins from the Ong side.

Music graduation.

Laura with her grandparents.
Having ice-cream at Patisfrance in Taipan, USJ Subang Jaya.

Sweet 16, with cousins and friends from the teens group at Sunday School, church and swimmers from her swim team.

With the teens from church.
Swim teammates

She’s ready to par- teh…

In Malacca, on one of the swimming championship competition weekends. Shopping for yummy stuff.

Home was more at the pool and all the swim races and championships.

Overall champion
The Selangor team


With Coach Mark Chua and Selangor teammates at the Bukit Jalil National Aquatic Centre, Malaysia.

With cousins, and Rachel Arnold (3rd From left). Tim is Alana’s husband.
Winning the Japanese International School cross-country race.

Laura’s Confirmation at St. Thomas More Church, Subang Jaya, Selangor.

With Archbishop Julian Low. “Teresa” is Laura’s chosen confirmation name.

Just a small part of her medal tally.

Fun with us, her parents. 😁

Penang, part of her holiday visit of some of the states in Malaysia before moving to the U.S. to further her tertiary studies.

In Penang.

In Brinchang, Cameron Highlands, for coffee.

Now, this is how to play billiards! About to take the perfect shot. At Arcadia, Cameron Highlands.
Leaving on a jetplane. Won’t know when I’ll be back again. Leaving for the U.S.

Swimming for Millikin University Swimming.

Hauling medals and setting records for Millikin University Swimming
Us family, celebrating with Laura (Live – streaming. Laura is on the phone in Illinois) her 19th birthday.

Laura, with Janet Jin nee Danker in New York.
Just moved in about a month ago.

With her boyfriend, James.

As you can see from all these pictures; you have touched the lives of everyone; especially us; mummy and I.

Happy 21st birthday, Laura. What a super fantastic milestone. Mummy and I are so proud of you, for who you are. We wish you an awe-inspiring life, filled with all your dreams come true. We love you.❤️❤️❤️

Himesh Patel, Lily James: I Want To Hold Your Hand; YesterdayMovieVEVO


Phew! Tiring. 24 events. Many, many heats. Jeannie and I got back from the Sports Excel Milo Junior Swimming Championship. It was a two day event held over the weekend (June 25 & 26, 2022) at the Selangor Aquatic Centre, Shah Alam. (1)

Laura, in her early days of competitive swimming. This was when she was In Girls, Group 4 (10 years and under) age group.
Laura, Girls, Group 4 (10 years and under) age group.

At the Registration room just before a race. Each swimmer has to present his or herself for registration before every race. If a swimmer fails to register during the “Calling time” before each race; that swimmer will be classified as “DNS” (Did Not Swim) and not allowed to swim for that race. The referee of the day can rule / bar that swimmer from swimming the rest of the events for that day.

Training, usually is between 5 to 8 times a week; depending on which level of competitive swimming a swimmer is at.

Laura, at her school track and field competition.
Laura, receiving a medal for one of the races she won at her school’s sports.
A common sight on most swimmers’ hands – “Tattooed hand” for the day with event numbers, what heats and which lane for each heat: Laura on one of the competitive swimming competition days.

In one of her early competitions when she was about 10 or 11 years old. Here, she warms up before the competition starts.

On one of those typical competition days. While waiting for her next event, Laura keeps herself occupied. Looking on is Mr. Foong, Elaine’s father. Elaine was in the same girls’ age group as Laura. A typical competition day can be from 6.00am in the morning until 10.30pm. The venue this competitive swimming competition was held in is the Malacca Aquatic Stadium at its sports complex.

A “must do” at any of the swimming competitions. Rush to first of all find the notice board where the official race results will be posted after the competition.

Laura, last swam in Malaysia in August, 2019. So, why are Jeannie and I still at it? Still at the swimming pool at competitions? The answer is simple. For one, the picture below says it all. Look at the smile on her face💖

Future World Champion. This was taken when Laura was around 10 years old.

Another reason is to give back to the sport in a way we can, when we can; for all that it has done for Laura in terms of being a part of her life-moulding process. The many people that have been a part of this process:
Coach Mark Chua, Coach Marilyn Chua, Coach Ong Jin Kooi, Coach Dr Molly Duesterhaus (Millikin University), Coach Mokhtar,
Parents: Richard Kok, Alan Teh, & Siew Toe, Peter & Ivy Chan, Connie & Ravi, Hannifah Yoong Yin Fah
Swimmers: Maryann Kok, Shaun Yap and all her teammates and swimmers from competitive teams, too; over the years in sport.
Squash G.O.A.T. : Datuk Nicol David, who took time to give Laura a pep talk on being champion when Laura was about 11 years old.

The list is non-exhaustive as there are many, many more people who have always been incredibly supportive over the years. We encourage this to carry on in the generations to come.

So, yeah. I guess it can be said that we can’t get enough.

Hit the “Subscribe” button for the latest writings.

1. Shah Alam is in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.

Michael Jackson: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough


Was it like a week ago that it was last year? Why is that word “like” in there? It is a good sentence on its own without the need to use that overused, meaninglessly used word most times. It sounds good or “hip”. Anyway, we can go over the cliff talking about the use of this four-letter “L” word; so, let’s not….go over the cliff.

The whirr, whirr, whirring sound of the ceiling fan, the meaningless planking and plonking of a piano with a clarinet blaring (or is it blurting?) out some musical notes; filling the void spaces of the piano’s planking and plonking of musical notes, creating lounge jazz; being played out from Google Home Mini, with its volume set at 2. After a while, you tend not to follow or try to follow the music, just accepting that it is meant to fil the sound of silence.

The main LED light on the wall with the filler LED table lamp provides illuminance.

It has been a slow start to 2022; well at least for my new year’s resolutions. Let’s review them:

Writing my book. My first attempt. It has not moved much over the last two weeks. A bit worrisome to think that two weeks have gone by and I have not made much head way.

I know the gist of what I want to write. It is tending to be more on the science fiction story line. Will it give Elon Musk a run for his money? We will just have to wait and see. Nothing has firmed up yet.

Next item on the list is to be financially free. It may be too early to gauge any meaningful results, but so far it looks like it is heading in the right direction.

Weight watching. My weight is now fluctuating in a slightly lower band range, just below 74kg. This is good.

Though there has been some improvement in all three of the resolutions, I hope to speed them up.

I helped out as an official for the Selangor Age Group last weekend (Jan 7th to 9th). Jeannie helped out on Saturday and Sunday. It was awesome to see many new faces, most of them from the Groups 3 and 4 age groups. These kids just got onto the starting blocks and did their stuff. They raced and they gave more than their best.

Among them could rise state, national and possible world champions. These kids are the future of tomorrow. Sports (I am more qualified to talk about swimming, even with my limited knowledge on the subject) requires discipline in training to bear champion results.

Watching these children as they warmed up, prepared and raced; and then warmed down gave us a sense of nostalgia when we used to watch Laura (our daughter) do the same, from when she was 9 years old right up to the time she left for her tertiary education in the U.S. Great memories.

Met a parent, Adele; a pint-size, sweet, gentle lady; whose 16-year old son, competed in the SAG. Like many other people have told me many times before; she said, “I know you because of your, ‘Go Laura Go’ cheer at all the swimming championships that Laura competed in. We know that Laura would be racing at that time. The competitions are not the same without your ‘Go Laura Go’ cheer.”

Met many old friends there, parents whose children have grown up, some studying abroad, some already working. Among them were Susan, Harry, Kamarol, June, Mandy, Alan Teh, Daphne, Bani and Peter Chan.

Bani, Peter and I reminisced the time when we went to Singapore to cheer our children on as they took part in the Singapore Open.

Jeannie and I at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Kallang, Singapore at the Singapore Open 2017

Laura preparing for her race at the Singapore Open 2017

We parents made the most of our “free” time gallivanting Singapore in search of good hawker food and shopping. We had an amazing time at Gardens by the Bay.

This was at a “famous” cafe in Johor, recommended by Trip Advisor.
The cafe served a good variety of Malay, Chinese, Indian and western cakes. Jeannie and me

At the Gardens By The Bay in Singapore. Left to Right: Ivy Kwan, Bani, Aya, myself and Peter Chan

Picture taken from the Gardens By The Bay, Singapore.
Resting by the beautiful flowers at the Gardens By The Bay, Singapore.

The Marina Sands Hotel, Singapore; behind Jeannie and Peter.

The beautiful Gardens By The Bay, Singapore.

Jeannie preparing Aya for the photoshoot at the Gardens By the Bay, Singapore

Jeannie, Ivy Kwan and Aya. Photoshoot in session, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

Jeannie, Ivy Kwan and Aya. Photoshoot in session, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

We also caught up with Laura’s former coaches, Mark & Marilyn Chua and Mr Ong Jin Kooi. We also met with Helen Chang (Mark’s & Marilyn’s mother) who like her children, encourage all parents to send their children abroad to the U.S. to further their tertiary education. “Let them learn the world from a different perspective”.

The SAG was a good meet. It is a good time as any for parents of young children to get them involved in sports. It requires commitment and dedication by parents for their child to succeed in a sport they get involved in. One good example is Victoria Boudeville. She travels from Seremban 5 times a week to & from Kuala Lumpur, sending her daughter for soccer training. That is around an hour’s drive each way when the highway does not have much traffic.

As we are heading into the fifth hour of the eleventh day of the new year; let’s keep our new year’s resolutions and goals in front of us to inspire us to get a move on. We can accomplish them. Most of all, have fun while doing so.


Date: 18th June 2016

Place: Dad’s & Mum’s home.

Occasion: There’s never a need for one when it comes to music with the Atkinson and Gomes families. On this date, it was in celebration of dad’s & mum’s 60th Wedding Anniversary.

16th June, 1956

Music has always been in our home from way before I was born I guess. Dad still has his open reel tape recordings of all of us, even at our ages of 1 year +. Listening to it has a charm that has always bonded my siblings, my late sister, Jennifer; my late brother, Nigel, Terence, Malcolm and I together, with dad and mum.

Dad and mum formed a singing group in the 1960s, with the famous band, “The Yellow Jackets” from Klang. Practices were most times in our house in Section 12, Petaling Jaya. They were also in various choirs, including the one in church. Dad was choir master in the Church of the Assumption, Petaling Jaya. I remember watching dad (I was 6 or 7 years old at that time) painstakingly write music and stencils for scores of hymns. He handwrote possibly a hundred sets of hymns for each of the choir members in his choir. He had artistic (still does) skills in him that made his work looked liked they were photocopied (They didn’t use photocopiers at that time).

My siblings and I were blessed with music rich families and music rich homes. Admittedly, some of that music were not to the likings of us, youngsters (at that time). But then, most music is evergreen and we’ve grown to enjoy them.

A few days ago, I was going through the videos on my phone and stumbled on this recording of my kid brother, Malcolm, singing this beautiful piece. Needless to say, you can feel the love and warmth he exudes with his natural born talent. On this occasion on June 18th (16th being dad’s and mum’s actual wedding anniversary date), there were several performers.

In this video, we had our whole family, together with some of dad’s and mum’s siblings to share this beautiful occasion with dad and mum. I will introduce everyone in this video, moving anti-clockwise starting with Shirley.

Malcolm singing a beautiful song at Dad’s & Mum’s 60th Wedding Anniversary. Cinematographer: Alan Atkinson

Shirley is Nigel’s wife and the mother of Sarah. You can see her pop in the picture once in a while. The Kid among the siblings because he’s the youngest; Malcolm shines when he sings, as he does here. He’s the one with the guitar, singing; in the video.

My late brother, Nigel; is next. Nigel loved family gatherings, as we all do. He would be in the thick of things with old family stories and jokes. Next to him is Uma, Malcolm’s wife. She always cooks up a delicious and often spicy spread for us, whenever we go to their place.

Sitting on the top of the stairs before the first landing is Tim. Alana’s then boyfriend, now husband. Yes, you can tell he’s a lawyer. If you can’t, you will have to find out for yourself.😉 Alana, Terence’s and Mabel’s eldest daughter; sits next to him. She is also the oldest of the grandchildren generation of the Atkinson family. Next to her, (sort of hidden) is Sarah, who is now head chef in one of the foreign High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is popular with foreign dignitaries for the fantastic meals she serves up. Sarah is Nigel’s and Shirley’s daughter.

Sitting a couple of steps below them is Laura; our (Jeannie’s and my) daughter. A state swimmer representing Selangor, Malaysia; she has music in her veins, too. Now, in the U.S. for her tertiary studies majoring in Entrepreneurship; she represents her university in swimming, too. She had a very exciting weekend at the University of Chicago meet last weekend. (1) She is the youngest of the Atkinson grandchildren.

Standing by the passage way is Ashley, Terence’s and Mabel’s youngest daughter. She is an educator for young children and is gifted with many talents, among them… why yes, of course… singing. The guy standing next to her is a talented singer, musician and writes his own music. He is Jay. He was then Ashley’s boyfriend, now husband. He speaks fluent French, too. Just saying.

Sitting in front of him is Mabel, Terence’s wife and the mother of Alana and Ashley. She’s the systematic-er. Everything has to be organised and in its place. Nest to her is Aunty Maryjane; wife to Uncle Ronnie. One of our family’s greatest supporters in all we do.

On Aunty Maryjane’s right is Laura’s mother, Jeannie. Yes, she’s my wife as well. Almost forgot.🤣 Jeannie has always been the greatest supporter in all that Laura and I do. A great supporter in all our family gatherings, too.

Next… hang on, I have to watch the video again to see whose next.

Ah… yes, my late eldest only sister, Jennifer (known by many as “Jen”). Jennifer was the eldest of us 5 siblings. She had an incredible talent for art, painting, troll beads, etc. Recognised by many in the arts arena from around the world. One to always organise family meet ups and gallivanting. On her right, is the lady of the house…

Mum, more famously known as Mrs Atkinson for her special icing- butter cakes and suggee cakes and yes, she makes a saintly fruitcake (an exceptionally rare commodity these days). Mum has always been the “glue” that bonded the family together. Not too long ago, in her younger days, she used to sing descant in choirs. She is always praying for all of us, our extended families and for everyone who asks her to pray for them. Not to mention for those she believes need urgent prayers, too. The strength and calm she displayed when Jennifer passed and more recently Nigel, too; is simply amazing. She knows that they are in a better place now.

Mum continues to make her famous butter cakes. She does them so lovingly.

Watch more video now… The late Aunty Clara, mum’s youngest sister and youngest from a family of 17 siblings. It was so nice to have her with us on this occasion. She would always make it a point to be with all family gatherings whenever she could.

Sitting on the sofa next to Aunty Clara, is the family prankster, dad’s youngest sister, Aunty Val. She is always up to some trick or another. The livewire of the family, Aunty Val has made it a point to attend all family special celebrations whenever, she possibly can. Our cousins and us know Aunty Val as “Aunty Val”. There can only be one “Aunty Val”. Next to Aunty Val, is a friend of hers; who came on holiday with her from Perth, Australia.

Aunty Maureen, dad’s other sister; has always been the victim of Aunty Val’s pranks. This goes way back, when they were kids. A teacher by profession; Aunty Maureen is the calm of Aunty Val. She’s the head of our Harding cousins’ families. On the chair next to her, is Uncle Ronnie; dad’s, Aunty Maureen’s youngest brother and Aunty Val’s too; but elder than her.

When we were young-er, Uncle Ronnie was known for “Bee-bup the ruler, she’s my bay-bee”; a song dad recorded of him singing while playing his guitar. The familiar voice on radio, til today.

Dad’s next on the list. The head of the Atkinson clan, the military officer, the grandfather, the father, husband, brother, brother-in-law. He wears so many hats and has played so many roles. Still calls everyone up from around the world just to find out how they are doing. He’s a believer in buying food and groceries in large quantities. Mum and he will always call to find out how we all are doing, including Laura in the U.S.

Synonymous with Squash (or racquet-ball in the U.S.) is Ray. As a public figure, Raymond Arnold and his three children have played, are playing for Malaysia and coaching in Malaysia and Singapore in this game. Played and amongst the best in the world arena. If you hear someone laughing the loudest, that must be Ray. Always in for a good laugh and time.

Uncle Gerald, mum’s brother is the next one and the last in this video. A teacher by profession, a violinist and popular for his rendition of “Ave Maria”, he has always made it a point to attend family gatherings whenever possible. We are sure to get a phone call from him wishing us on our birthday or an anniversary. He finds it ticklish when people say, “We’ll catch up with you” – an oft misused phrase. He says they mean to say, “We’ll ketchup with you”.

There you have it – all of them in the video. I am not in the video – I was shooting it, the cinematographer / cameraman. Hope you enjoyed it. Terence was not in the video as I believe he was abroad at that time.

Speaking of anniversaries, some not so many years ago, this guy below on the left asked, “Would chu?”

She said, “Would chu what?” And I replied with my head flicking (headshake) on the right and flick raising my left eyebrow, “You know, the ring thing and stuff like that”.

“Oh, marry you. Let me think about it”, she said.

Then, it happened. On this day, 26 years ago. Many, many more great years ahead. 💖💕

60th Wedding Anniversary. Aunty Val, Aunty Clara, Aunty Maureen, Uncle Gerald, Uncle Ronnie and Aunty Maryjane were with us on this joyous day.

Music is in the families of the Atkinsons and Gomes.
Millikin Athletics, Millikin Swimming
Terence, was overseas, I think at that time. 4th amongst the siblings, his gift of the gap is a natural. Husband to Mabel and father to Alana & Ashley.


Siblings’ photo: Standing Left to Right; Shirley, Nigel, Malcolm, Uma, myself, Jeannie, Mabel, Terence, Ashley
Seated Left to Right: Ray, Jen, Laura, Sarah

They (not sure who “they” are) say a picture paints a thousand words.

This has to be amongst the best pictures of me, my family, my siblings and their families. It would have been perfect if Alana was in it. I think she was abroad at that time. I love this picture for its clarity and detail. I can’t remember exactly when this picture was taken. It could have been 2015, 2016 or 2017 Christmas.

Seated Left to Right: Raymond Arnold. Former national squash coach, national squash player, now squash coach extraordinaire. Always ready for a good laugh. He is game for anything and loves food. Who doesn’t? Was married to my late sister, Jennifer.

Next seated is Jennifer (Jen). I always used to say that no camera could escape Jen. Jen always insisted on many photographs be taken, especially with family. Hence, the photo above. She was also the family instigator / organiser of many of family gatherings. This picture was taken at Christmas time at The Curve shopping centre in Petaling Jaya. We were there because Jen thought it a great idea that we siblings and our families meet at a mall like this for light shopping and dinner at least once every Christmas. We always had fun at these once a year at the mall Christmas affairs with the family.

Jen was richly talented with her art. She brightened the world with her paintings and murals on many different objects and surfaces.

One of Jen’s paintings / creations. The picture is so vibrant, the colours and detail are exquisite.

Jen also worked extensively on troll beads, fusing beautiful colours on them. She spent long hours working up ideas as art.

Seated next to Jennifer (back to “Jennifer” instead of “Jen” for me. I grew up with “Jennifer” in my life, so I am more comfortable with her full name, though she went into “Jen” mode.) is our (Jeannie’s and my) daughter, Laura. She is the youngest in the Atkinson clan.

Laura, Jeannie and me

Laura is currently abroad, furthering her tertiary education. While in Malaysia; if she was not at studies, she was training and swimming in championships throughout the country.

Laura was a state swimmer, representing Selangor. She was amongst the top 3 swimmers in Malaysia for the 100m and 50m Breaststroke events in the girls’ age group. Now, she represents her university and its swim team in these events and others, too. Just won the 100yd (yard) Breaststroke at Caroll University (Millikin University meet with Caroll University – 7th November, 2021).

Now, sitting on Laura’s left in the picture is (Chef) Sarah Atkinson. Besides being an artist in food presentation; the meals that she prepares leaves her guests wanting for more; seconds, third helpings. Literally! She is a chef at a foreign high commission. Sarah is the daughter of Nigel and Shirley.

Standing, at the back, from left: Shirley, was married to my late brother, Nigel. Shirley is operations chief at a freight forwarding logistics company. She is the most sought after person by her shipping line agencies and clients; pretty much on call 24×7.

Then, after Shirley in the picture; comes Nigel. Nigel is the in the middle of the five of us siblings : Jennifer, Alan, Nigel, Terence and Malcolm.

Nigel ran a temp-maid cleaning agency, providing the services of maids to clean your home, or small office or building. He had a good rapport with his clients, which were from Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam. (3) He obliged some people who were staying out of these areas.

From young, Nigel had this fastidious trait about him: everything had to be clean and in place at all times. There was never a time that anything out of place, even by one millimetre; would get past him. Always having a joke or two, or three at hand to share, he would be the livewire of a party. he loved to sing, too. He was generous, even with the little he had.

Malcolm is next in the picture. He is the youngest in the family but that never stopped him from doing and achieving what he wanted. Known by many as “the singing pastor”; his music and his personality has drawn many, many people to the good news.

Malcolm is up to date on news of his favourite marvel action heroes. He has a pretty good collection of marvel comics, a collection which he started from the time he was in school.

Much of his time now is spent recording and producing music that he sings solo, and with others, too. He wants the end result of production to be the way he has envisaged the songs to be.

Uma, Malcolm’s wife; has a penchant for cooking. She loves cooking. she has all sorts of cooking utensils and gadgets that bring out the already deliciousness in the food she serves. Dinners at their home usually has a wide spread of Indian or western cuisine or a combination of both.

While at hers and Malcolm’s home yesterday she taught us a lesson which I heard for the first time and think it as interesting. If you are eating an Indian meal and use your hands instead of the usual cutlery; you pick up the food with your fingers, making sure the food does not touch the palm of your hand.

Continuing with the siblings photo. I am next after Uma and don’t need any introduction. 😄😉

Jeannie is standing next to me, more like in front of me. She hardly needs any introduction. She is in business development in the food services industry. Always on the lookout for new food items and brands.

Jeannie is also a batik influencer. Batik designs and materials have evolved since it became popular many years ago. Jeannie has an interest in the different types of batik and has produced several ladies’ jackets and tops that have gone to several parts of the world. If you see a lady in the U.S., Australia or Japan in a beautiful batik jacket; it may most likely be one of Jeannie’s creations.

Mabel is next. Terence’s wife; she makes fancy design cakes. She is artistic and thus produces these beautifully designed cakes. When there’s a party in her house; cups will be plastic with your names written on them so that there won’t be an unnecessary waste of cups. She is organised.

Terence, Mabel’s husband; happens to be my brother, not my “second brother” or my cousin’s cousin. Wait a minute – my cousin’s cousin? We’re onto something here. 😁

Terence, who is also the “Uncle Al” (4) of our generation; has been with international schools for many years now. He spends a lot of time with his hobby – hydroponic (5) vegetables. He is about to turn 60 in a few days time. Happy Birthday, Terence (in advance). Welcome to the “60s is the new thirties” club.

Ashley is the last but not least in this picture. Younger daughter of Terence and Mabel; she is a teacher by profession. She started a new handicraft business fairly recently, promoting all the handicraft she makes. She is a very talented singer.

This photo of my siblings and myself and our families, has that warm and Christmas-y atmosphere about it. Will be treasured. Christmas is just around the corner.

Every time I re-visit a picture, it tells me the same story, but from a different point of view. As I get on in years, the same picture becomes more vibrant. – Good memories. Many smiles. Everlasting.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, I think it does more than that. Definitely more than a thousand words – this essay is over 1,300 words.


  1. Jennifer passed away in March 2019.
  2. Nigel passed away in August 2021.
  3. Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya are cities in Selangor, Malaysia.
  4. “Uncle Al” – his mannerisms, way of talking and expressing himself is like dad’s brother, Uncle Al.
  5. Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture which involves in growing plants (usually crops) without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent… Hydroponics offers many advantages notably a decrease in water usage in agriculture.