In loving memory of Ah Kong (1926-2010)

image courtesy of my cousin

10th September marks the two year anniversary of the passing of my maternal grandfather (Affectionately known as ‘Ah Kong’). On that day he departed from this earth leaving an empty spot at the dinner table and in our hearts.

I’ve really wanted to write something in honor of my memories of my grandfather but my cousin did a far better job than me. Having been his first grandchild and lived under the same roof as him for so many years she provides the best insight into the man we call Ah Kong:

My grandfather, Peter ES Tan, passed away sometime in the morning of Friday, 10 September 2010, surrounded by loved ones. He was just over a month short of his 84th birthday, and we will miss him dearly.

Reading it just makes me want to tear up all over again. I don’t quite know how to put in words how he affected my whole family as a person. He was a larger than life man, one moment quiet and thoughtful, the next bursting with anecdotes and brusque comments about politics and life. He was the always there element of my childhood and to have him suddenly not there anymore is somewhat disconcerting.

I remember that on Friday nights when we would go to my grandparents house for dinner, he would retire to his study after the meal. I would sneak into the study with him and sit with him, asking him questions about his life, old time singapore, world war 2 etc. He always had a lot to say about others but about his past he could be oddly reticent. I always felt that I never knew him as much as I could have and yet I still feel that I knew him better than words could express just by his actions and the way he interacted with his grandchildren.

My last cherished memory of him was sitting next to him as we listened to old Nat King Cole records about a year before his passing. In the last months of his life he really loved to listen to the music with the volume up loud!

Ah Kong, I look forward to the day when we will be reunited in heaven. Till then I hope that you’re enjoying your new body and getting to swim again in crystal seas.

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