On tuesday morning about 4 am, something happen to our family that would forever change us all…

I would like to tell you a story (a life story) about a great man. He was well loved by everyone and rarely would I find someone that would have ill feelings towards him. Everyone respected him with the highest regard. He was also a person to go to when one was in trouble. His son mentioned that he and his siblings would walk much faster than him when they go out because he was often stopped by people who would pay him respect and greet him.

He had one wife with 5 children and god-childrens some official and some not official I have no inkling of the number. He provided all that the family needed and even more. He made sure all his children was well educated and was given the best opportunities. And when his children all grown up, he was blessed with more than 10 grandchilren who loved him with all their hearts.

He had many values and principles in life and one of his outstanding qualities in life was integrity and righteousness. The times I’ve spent with him, he never waivered on those qualities. Not even in the stories and testimonies of people who knew him. He helped many people that came to him whether it relates financial, societal problems or life wisdom.

The many stories that he had in his life, he often told of this one story where he helped somebody and that somebody in turn saved his life twice many years later. It started before the Pacific war when he was young and lived in a house with a staircase. And there was a homeless man who would make shelter at the staircase whenever he was sick. He didn’t hold any disgust towards that ill man but instead gave up almost half of his pocket money for the man to buy some food. (2 of 5 cents) Those days, 1 cent could have purchase you a decent meal – he used to tell me. After many years, when world war 2 erupted, that man sought him out and later saved his life twice from the Japanese officers. 

His life was also marked with kindness, love and humiliy. And he loved telling stories to those who are eager to listen. You can see his eyes brighten up and his voice filled with passion each time he retold his stories. He taught his children to be kind to people and never to oppress anyone when one is rich and powerful.   

He came from a wealthy family and had a highly paid salary by the British government. He could have chose to be a wealthy and rich person but he chose to be content and happy. 

He had a colourful life (there were dark patches and many bright patches in the quilt of his life) –

He was a british army personnel. A gunner at the start of the world war two. A prisoner of war with the Japanese and he escaped. He was in the intelligence corps. He also became a paratrooper and a british commando (Chindits). After the war, he held many roles from police officer, Managing Director of a fuel company, fuel station owner etc.

Among the roles he played, the most important of all to me personally is that he was my grandfather. I never had any other grandfather but I felt he was the best grandpa one could ever wish for. I’m proud to be his grandson.

There are many memories I have of him. Some of the more memorable ones were spending time with him and grandma at his house when I was young. I use to have sleep-overs at his place. From some reason I find his place to be fun and filled with interesting things. I would sleep on the floor with a mattress in his room and I remember the nights with supper of Loh Mee with him and grandma. I remember heading down to the stalls next to the streets to buy loh mee, hot and very hot to eat back in his house.

I remembered there was an assignment on tokoh negara during secondary school and I did a piece on him together with my friend. We were trying to be professional about it and we asked many silly questions. He had a wall full of medals from the war. I remember a very long blade he used to keep by his pillow. Only recently I found out it was to ward off bad dreams.

There was the time when he gave up driving when he had a car accident with me in it. It happened in the day near Section 3 where we used to go for bak kut teh. He was so worried when the car hit my side of the door.

I remember him always poking fun of grandma when she irritates him. He loved her very much. Even in the final days, he was worried about her. They were married for more than 65 years. I remember his face when he was poking fun of her and often angry at her but a split second later he would smile and laugh cheekily.

There were only a handful of times that I remember taking them out for shopping in my working adult years. I wishes I had done that more often. They were memorable grandparents and grandson occasions. Each time I send them back to their condo, he would say “come again when you’re free” in cantonese and he would wave me off. I miss those moments with him.

If somehow he is able to receive my messages, I would say to him….

Lord, You are now in charge of his spirit. I trust in your mercy, love and your grace. I place my hope in You that grandpa is by Your side and look forward to see him again.

Liu Tam Choy (1922 – 2011)