It was a lovely start to my 64th birthday, going on 65. Lots of “thank you(s)” are in order. Thank you all for sharing the beautiful music of LIFE, which God has blessed us with.

My wife, Jeannie and Laura; have always been my greatest support. Laura’s video call and message from the U.S. made it all the more special.

My dad and mum called. Uncle Gerald, mum’s brother; called too. At 87; ne never fails to call every year.

There were hundreds of messages from the many social media platforms: my siblings and their families; Uncle Ronnie & Aunty Maryjane, Aunty Yvonne and Aunty Val; both from Perth, Australia, all my cousins and friends from all parts of the world.

It did not stop at the end of yesterday. I had more wonderful messages come in today. I had a nice message chat with Judith Wong, my neighbour from the next street. We talked about making a difference and impact on peoples’ lives. She is a great encouragement towards my writings.

Then, there was Gordon Fernando – a fellow CHOICE (a Catholic programme for single adults. I am from the CHOICE 7 group of 1982). We are on a CHOICE Whatsapp group chat. He refreshed my memory that we met once or more before, near a friend – Maryann Sharma’s house in Malacca. I visited Maryann at her family home in Malacca several times in the mid-1980s. Gordon has been based in the U.S. for 20 years. He is in the aviation industry.

Our close friend, Richard Kok; came over to our house in mid-afternoon. He brought a lovely, delicious cake that his daughter, Maryann Kok; sent to me. Maryann was a highly medal and record decorated state swimmer, representing the state of Selangor. She was senior to Laura in the team by a few years. Thanks, Maryann. It was a wonderful surprise.

A couple of hours though my conversation with Richard and we were playing tag-team for dozing off, The afternoon was very hot. Though the aircon was on full blast; it didn’t stop us from nodding our heads and dozing off. I did my 10km walk just before Richard came. Do you think it is a good excuse for me?😁😉😂😅💤

I met Nash from 4C, on my walk; who stopped his car just to wish me. We had a couple of laughs. Messages continued coming in from Jane, Iqbal, Herman Danker, Nara, Nic, Daniel, Gina, Tony Albert, Soh Chin Teck from La Salle 1975, Klang, Angeline, Mel (Austalia) and Cecilia. I also want to give a shout out to Charles Rozario who tried calling me during the frenzy of all the messages that were coming in.

The celebrations continue tomorrow. I will be meeting with a dear friend, also from CHOICE – Sharon; whom I have not met for many, many years. Sharon flew in from Europe a few days ago.

A special “Thank You” to Liz, my Tudor neighbour of 4D. She has inspired me to see and live life with even greater fervor. My thoughts and prayers are with her always.

Thank you all, once again for giving me a wonderful start to this 65th year.

ABBA: Thank You For The Music


It has been quite an eventful last 4 weeks in the Klang → Subang Jaya, Klang → Shah Alam and Klang → Petaling Jaya routes and back. Klang is where Dad and mum live; Subang Jaya is where Malcolm & Uma and Jeannie & I live; Shah Alam is where Malcolm & Uma live and Petaling Jaya is Klang to UMMC hospital.

The best baker of buttercakes, my mum – Philomena Atkinson; was at her usual at age 84 just about to turn 85.

Famous birthday cake with the famous icing. I remember in our younger days, we’d hang around for mum to finish icing the cake and then make a grab for the balance icing. One of those that remember this well is Guy Rozario.

It was one evening, somewhere in the first week of June, I get a call from mum. Oh, by the way, “best baker of buttercakes” has been bestowed upon her by the many. many, many people who have tasted her buttercakes and want more. Everyone keeps pestering her for her secret ingredient. Her “secret” ingredient is an open secret. Why? Because even if you know it, it would be impossible to duplicate. You may come close, but exacting it is not possible. This “secret” ingredient is called “love“.

You will agree with me that it is impossible to duplicate, just like a fingerprint. It belongs to that person. It is also just like colours.

Here, just when you thought the spectrum of colours had 8 – 12 (these were the standard colours in the box of colour pencils we used to take to school)…. The range started growing until smartphones were touting 16 million colours. Then, the “in-thing” phrase “A.I.” or artificial intelligence (don’t know what the big fuss is all about when politicians have been around for the longest time) has become a new buzzword which in turn has created a palette of 1 ber ber billion, yes billion; colours. So, the standard set of 8 -12 colours are now recognized in the different shades, most of which we think we don’t see; they are there. It is just that we don’t recognize them or take it for granted.

Back to mum’s secret ingredient in her buttercakes. It was that one evening…I get a call from her saying that she had a fall. I had just picked Jeannie up from work and was about to head home. She said that she was carrying a freshly baked cake out of the oven when she lost her balance and fell. I think at that time, dad was out on one of his errands. At 90, that man sure has a swagger.

Just in case if you are wondering. No, it is not my birthday…yet. But coming real soon. This was last year’s birthday. The dark chocolate, nyonya kuih, Burger King’s whopper and KFC breakfast was Jeannie’s idea.

Jeannie and I went straight up (or down?) to Klang from P.J.. We reached mum within 45 minutes. Dad was already at home by then. Mum complained about a bad pain in her leg. She was advised by a couple of friends to go for an x-ray at a nearby clinic.. She was hesitant and not quite up to going right there and then.

I called a buddy – childhood friend and classmate, Dr Michael Lee Pillai, up for advice on getting x-rays done. He advised that it was better for mum to get an MRI done at the hospital nearby so that a specialist could assess the issue mum had.

We took mum the next morning to have this done. Results showed no fractures or broken bones.

We celebrated her birthday over the weekend and on June 14th, mum’s actual birthday; Jeannie and I visited them. A few minutes after we left them; dad calls to say mum had another fall. We turned back and headed back to their house. We were less than 10 minutes away at that time.

She was climbing the stairs, with the aide of the prong walking stick; to go to her bedroom. Just after the first step, she fell backwards. We believed what could have happened was that the prong walking stick was not placed firmly on the step, which may have caused her to lose her balance. With a slight bump on the back of her head, she seemed ok. But, she did complain of a pain in her hip joint.

We, again took her for another MRI which showed no fractures or broken bones. She decided to take a break from her cake making and focus on her physical recovery.

A few days ago, dad called to say that mum was back at baking, but taking it at an easy pace. Many people who love her buttercakes expressed a great relief to hear that they can get her buttercakes again. Most common statement from them, “There is no others like your mother’s buttercakes”. Pictures of some of the buttercakes she has made are shown here.

Mum is also well known for her suggee cakes and fruit cakes. She would start preparing for the fruitcakes between 3 to 6 months. This story is for another time.😘

So, yeah! The best of buttercake baker is back!

NOTES: Klang, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya are cities in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.


As I sit here and ponder about life (no…not in the sitting position of “The Thinker”), definitely not on hard stone; I keep thinking how mystical…how magical life is. What it has to offer…what we can contribute or give to this “life”. Living…what is that? It is one of life’s mysteries.

We set the alarm clock (well, at least some of us do) each night, expecting it to ring and wake us up the next morning for us to start our day. We take it as a given.

We complain about the weather, either it is too hot (humid in Malaysia) or it rains as if there is no tomorrow (It’s about to storm [12.16pm now]). We coffeeshop-talk about the guy who wears his sagging udders on his shirt, or the seemingly uncontrollable rising costs of living. And the list goes on. There is this incessant need to complain. This is probably because we take each day as a sure thing. It is natural. We don’t have to learn to live? Or do we?

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

One day, a few months ago; I was on my usual daily 15 kilometer walk. My usual route which is around our neighbourhood; is a 1.5kilometer loop x 10 laps.

As I came to the middle of a lap; I was about to turn left into a side alley between two rows of houses. I saw Liz standing in front of her house, just outside her gate. I think she was admiring all her small plants growing neatly in front at what the English will call the “curb” and the Americans, “sidewalk”.

I have known Liz for about three years, by sight, whenever she drives past me either when she is going out or returning home. She never fails to give a big smile either when she waves to me or returns my wave whenever she drives past.

A few months ago, I chanced upon meeting Liz for the first time when I saw her outside her house with her two young children looking for her children’s pet tortoise which went missing. I told her that her home is one of the houses I love passing by. It is because of the aroma I get as I pass her kitchen – its always inviting. She’s an awesome cook.

Months went by since then, until very recently; when I did my walk one late evening. Liz was there, outside her house; admiring her plants. She looked different, with her hair cut real short, not her usual hairstyle. I remarked to her that it was a long time since we last met.

Liz, then told me that she was very sick, that she had cancer. That it was a relapse. It is in its 4th stage.

The cancer she has is Neuroendocrine tumor (NET). (2)

She has a year or less to live.

My heart sank. I was nervous.

She was very calm. I looked into her eyes. I saw peace. She was not afraid of dying. She has come to terms with it.

Liz treats each second of living with great reverence. She exuberates radiance.

We talked about her husband and their two young children. I told Liz that I will be available for her anytime, just a call away. Jeannie and I have Liz in our prayers daily.

I asked her if I could pen a few words about her, “LIZ“. She immediately agreed. She said she wants to share her story with others that there is always hope. Keep hoping, regardless of how tough a situation may be. Life is beautiful.

Liz and I have been in touch though messaging. 3 days ago, she told me that her condition seems to have worsened and that she would have to go for another round of chemotherapy. The following is a text I just received from her: “Dr showed me the result.. hmm .. not so good la… Next week seeing onco Dr. Need another round of chemo😂”

Liz continues to inspire me and others that life is a gift. We have no control; of when it comes and when it goes. What we make of it in between that…we are the author of that story.

Elvis Presley “Loving You”


  1. “The Thinker by Rodin -7 Facts About The Iconic Statue”, Aleksandar Mishov; http://www.documentary tube.com
  2. Neuroendocrine tumors are cancers that begin in specialized cells called neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells have traits similar to those of nerve cells and hormone-producing cells. Neuroendocrine tumors are rare and can occur anywhere in the body.