family · moments

My Kong Kong

My beloved grandpa (mum’s dad) passed away last Thursday on 6th September 2012. He was 90 years old. He had a short battle with stomach cancer but passed peacefully with all his loved ones by his bedside. This is the eulogy I read at his funeral earlier today:

Today, I represent all of Kong Kong’s grandchildren, my cousins, to share with you our memories of him. I am S***** and I am Kong Kong’s first grandchild. Thank you for being here today to send off our beloved kong kong. It means a lot to all of us.

Kong Kong was born in 1923. He lived through pages of history, from World War 2 right through Singapore’s independence, to today where smart phones rule the world and I’m reading his eulogy off an iPad. He had a treasure trove of memories and I would like to share some of them with you today.

He was educated at Serangoon English School and studied till the equivalent of A levels today. A mean feat for anyone born during that era. He was also into sports, playing football, badminton and taking part in hurdles. Interestingly, Kong Kong also enjoyed watching wrestling on tv and I remember asking him whether or not it hurt because it looked like it did. Kong Kong would always say “No la, it’s fake! Not real!”

My name is S***** or as Kong Kong would call me, See-****. He was the only one who pronounced my name differently and yes, my Kong Kong was different. He was different from many grandfathers I know. None of my friends’ grandfathers spoke English, British English to be exact and Kong Kong spoke to all his grandchildren in English. I remember times when I called looking for Ma Ma and he would say “just a moment” in properly-pronounced English. It tickled me whenever he said that because almost everybody says “wait ah”.

I knew from my conversations with him that he used to work for a shipping company. I also found out that shortly after WWII, he worked at the grounds of the current Goodwood Park Hotel where war crime trials were held. He shared that he had to learn shorthand on his own so that he could take notes.

Kong Kong used to own a gun when it was still legal in Singapore. He would shoot bats in the night so that they don’t feed on his fruit trees. Soon, we had to move out of the kampong because the land was used for redevelopment. I remember standing with him at the gate while the big machines tore down his house. I remember looking up at him and noticing a single tear escaping from his eye.

Kong Kong doted on all his grandchildren equally. It didn’t matter if you are male or female, didn’t matter if you shared his surname or not. When asked who is his favourite grandchild, he always replied smilingly that he has no favourites and he loved us all equally.

Kong Kong loved hanging out at the Turf Club, spending many weekends there with his friends. Each time he returned, each of us grandchildren would receive some money. If he won, we would each get $20. If he lost, we’d still get $10. It was always a win-win situation for us.

Kong Kong was also good at keeping secrets. When we were too afraid to get our parents to sign our report card because of bad results, he would sign it for us so that we wouldn’t get a telling off. He would also take us to the neighbourhood mini mart to buy candies and chocolates after school just because we want to. It would always be a secret between our Kong Kong and us. And Kong Kong never betrayed our trust.

I do not remember Kong Kong ever losing his temper at his grandchildren. No matter how much we annoyed him, he never scolded nor told us off. He was always patient, considerate and kind.

Kong Kong lived for 90 good years and if we had our way, he’d live to a 100, even a 1000, if that’s possible. And even though we grieve at his passing, let us remember that he led a fruitful, long life that should be celebrated.

He was and will always be, our beloved Kong Kong. Our Kong Kong who spoke the Queen’s English, our Kong Kong who loved us all equally.

We will forever keep the precious memories that we share close in our hearts. Wherever you are, we hope that you have an endless supply of roast duck, durians and lor bak. We love you, Kong Kong and will miss you very, very much.

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3 thoughts on “My Kong Kong

  1. Sorry for your loss. He did seem like a remarkable and doting grandfather. Sadly, I didn’t have the chance of getting such love from my grandparents who died early. Thanks for sharing those precious pieces of sweet memories. Take care & God bless!

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