October is also the month of birthdays in my family. My grand-daughter Hana celebrated her 9th birthday on 13 Oct. My mother turned 87 on 10 October, my brother Henry's 64th birthday fell on 14 Oct, and my Uncle Xavier marked his 80th birthday on 22 Oct. He celebrated the auspicious occasion with his family, friends, former colleagues and golf buddies with a grand dinner on 20 Oct at the exclusive Read Masonic Centre.
|My mom on her 86th birthday last year, with my younger daughter Belle. |
Photo taken at the Dementia Homecare Centre in Teluk Panglima Garang.
Before the month comes to a close, I would like to pay tribute to my mom and my uncle.
|My mom circa 1940s|
In her own way, my mom is an amazing woman. Widowed when she was only 30, she never remarried, although her exquisite oriental beauty attracted many suitors and secret admirers. In the 1950s, young widows were expected to honor the memory of their deceased husband by remaining faithful. My mom probably also didn't want to incur the wrath of my paternal grandmother, the matriarch of the family. Everyone was in awe and fear of my grandmother.
|My mom's beauty salon in Batu Pahat|
At the time, my mom was proprietress of a beauty salon in Batu Pahat. My dad had helped set it up for her in 1947. It was the income from this modest little business that fed the whole family.
|Mom and her six children. Photo taken in 1961.|
|Me, my brother Henry and my sister Shirley|
on mom's 87th birthday on 10 Oct 2013
I salute my mother and all mothers who toiled through sweat and tears to raise their children, provide them with a good education, and instil in them the right values.
My uncle Xavier is my mom's younger brother. After completing high school at St Paul's Institution in Seremban, he left on a government scholarship to study electrical engineering in Australia. Upon his return, he worked as an engineer in the Telecommunications Department of Malaya and remained there till his retirement in 1986. He has been always close to my mom. His financial and moral support helped her through the difficult years.
My uncle was posted to various parts of West Malaya in his early years with Telecoms Malaya. This may explain why he can't stay put for long in one place. I remember during school holidays, he would take my siblings and my cousins on trips to the towns where he was posted. I can still recall one trip in particular to Sungai Petani in Kedah. That was in November 1963. It was the most enjoyable school holiday I had in my growing up years.
|Visiting North Korea|
He has been to more than 55 countries to date - from the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru to the old monasteries in Bhutan and Tibet, from Jerusalem in Israel to Pyongyang in North Korea, my uncle has probably seen all the wonders of the world. Uncle Xavier has had a triple bypass, but this has not diminished his wanderlust. He continues to enjoy life as an intrepid world traveller and avid photographer.
|With young novice monks in Bhutan|
|At the wailing wall in Jerusalem|
|Uncle Xavier with Aunt Sylvia at his recent 80th birthday celebration on 20 Oct 2013|
To my mom and Uncle Xavier, a big toast to both of you on your birthday. May there be many more happy returns of the day.