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Khai & Khim: For Always and Beyond Goodbye ❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ


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A Flower Arrangement at Khim’s Funeral - For Always and Beyond Goodbye (31 Aug 2019, 9:27 AM Saturday)

For Always

Beyond Goodbye

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
Khai & Khim at Home (16 Aug 2018, 10:29 AM Thursday)

Khai & Khim at Home (16 Aug 2018, 10:29 AM Thursday)

Thank you, Dr Craig Eisemann, for introducing me to the attendees. Craig and I have many interests and things in common, not the least that our mothers both lived to 88 years old separated by five months, and that we both became motherless at roughly the same age, separated by three months. Also, both our mothers were only married at the relatively late age of 30.

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Many of you know me as Khai or Khai-Wei (鍾凱維). First, please let me acknowledge your presence and your individual connections with my late mother, Khim. That you have taken the time to join us in celebrating the life of a lady so special and important to many of us right here at this very moment is a testament to your appreciation of these cherished connections with my late mother. I would like to inform you that this eulogy is permanently available on my website at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2019/08/31/khai-khim-for-always-and-beyond-goodbye/

Khai & Khim at Home (8 Jul 2019, 12:27 PM)

Khai & Khim at Home (8 Jul 2019, 12:27 PM Monday)

Counting back from the day of Khim’s passing to just one day short of fifteen years and nine months ago, my late mother and I, my brother and his family as well as other relatives and friends mourned the departure of my late father, whose funeral was also held here in this chapel in late 2003, though it was very heavily imbued with Buddhist ceremonial activities then.

Now, let us return to the person of our main focus, the person whom many of you have come to call Khim. We are here to confer our love and respect on Khim posthumously. As an aside, let us concentrate on her full name, Khim-Kin Woon (温琴京), for a moment. Does it remind you of anyone? Those of you who have been paying attention to news will soon realize that her full name rhymes uncannily well with that of a South Korean field hockey player and gold medallist, Kim Jong-eun, and more worryingly, with that of the North Korean supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. There is no wonder that my mother’s name alone had caused her to be mistaken for a Korean by some people. I usually informed them that we are Australian by introducing myself and mum as Khai & Khim, given that our pairing is akin to Kath & Kim as depicted in the Australian television situation comedy. Then, wittily mimicking the typical mispronunciation and bogan accent of Kath, I proceeded to break the ice even further whilst simultaneouly attempting to direct those people’s attention away from me so that they would notice even more of Khim who had been stylishly dressed, by promptly uttering “Don’t look at moy, look at mum!”, as the following video demonstrates.

Khai & Khim in Her Tiffany Blue Dress at a Jewellery Shop — Don’t look at moy, look at mum! (14 Aug 2018, 9:15 AM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim in Her Tiffany Blue Dress at a Jewellery Shop (14 Aug 2018, 9:26 AM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim in Her Tiffany Blue Dress at a Jewellery Shop (14 Aug 2018, 9:26 AM Tuesday)

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
Khim at Jackpot Dining Restaurant on Anzac Day (25 Apr 2019, 10:05 AM Thursday)

Khim at Jackpot Dining Restaurant on Anzac Day (25 Apr 2019, 10:05 AM Thursday)

In delivering this special eulogy, let us entertain some deeper discussions. We may begin by thinking about the following question: “Is Khim, my mother, special?” Whilst I would like to think so, it is a fairly moot point, for I consider both the question and its answer to be perfunctory, if not superficial. To summarily claim that my mother is special, or that I have a special mother, is to offer little or nothing more than a straightforward declaration that I feel special about my mother, let alone the fact that under most circumstances, everyone’s mother is special to them. Rather than being confounded by a rhetorical question or being mired in relativity and subjectivity, we can and should come to a much better understanding of Khim’s specialness through how she had touched our lives, and in how she had interacted with us. Indeed, achieving that understanding is the gist of this eulogy.

Let us start from the most obvious, from that which can be observed and felt through interpersonal communication. As a whole, we can reasonably perceive or conclude that it was Khim’s gentleness and passivity, her unassuming smile and lovable gaze, demure nodding and attentive listening, that has left many favourable impressions on those who met her, whether briefly or regularly.

Khim at Home (1st of July 2019, 3:16 PM Monday)

Khim at Home (1st of July 2019, 3:16 PM Monday)

Now, let us go beyond the surface and the immediacy of face-to-face engagement to consider the social environment and cultural aspects in relation to her interactions with us. Overall, Khim was quite economical with words. This quietness or reticence became more pronounced in her old age, as her ability to remain articulate and coherent waned. Regardless of her age, Khim as an adult was amiable and approachable in public, though she usually waited for others to approach her first. This lack of initiative was mostly due to her shyness and reserved nature. Moreover, as personable as she had been, Khim was never outwardly a pleaser. A social butterfly she never was. Neither was she ever a person who habitually, flippantly or unnecessarily sought attention, approval, devotion or likeableness through sociability or conformity. In most situations, Khim seemed to be faring equally well whether she was the centre of attention or at the fringe of action. Since she was never interested in pushing herself through life with strategic moves or personal agendas, we can safely conclude that her acquiescences and praises as well as her supports and rapports that she had given us, however rare or frequent, were all genuine.

Khim at Home (1st of July 2019, 3:21 PM Monday)

Khim at Home (1st of July 2019, 3:21 PM Monday)

In spite of Khim’s calm and gentle demeanour, she was not untouched by fear or favour. On the side of fear, she loathed and avoided conflicts whenever she could, even when some recurring issues or outstanding problems had been detrimental or unresolved. Ironically, the consistency in her thinking could at times be a trap preventing her from welcoming certain changes. However, such a consistency could also function like a shield protecting her against facile ideas, superficiality and unruly influence.

It is worth noting that Khim tended to see the world or to evaluate certain outcomes from the perspective of the glass being half empty rather than half full. Khim’s veiled pessimism can be attributed to her innate temperament as well as her lifelong limited means. As a corollary, Khim was not easily excitable or tempted. Neither was she particularly driven to seek new excitements. Since Khim was generally unconcerned about selfishly meeting her own needs or mindlessly keeping up with the Joneses, she was able to enmesh herself in activities without undue distractions or unrealistic expectations.

Khai Gifting Khim a White Cat (25 July 2015, 5:46 PM Saturday)

Khim on a Regency-Style Bench with a Fluffy Toy Cat (Christmas 2016, 2:22 PM Sunday)

Khim on a Regency-Style Bench with a Fluffy Toy Cat (Christmas 2016, 2:22 PM Sunday)

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

Whilst Khim was not easily excitable or tempted, she could be easily moved to tears, especially when watching some movies and television series, such as Little House on the Prairie, as I observed in the 1970s and early 1980s. Khim was a long-term fan of certain TV stars in sitcoms, such as Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy and Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote. Some television miniseries leaving lasting impressions on Khim included Roots, The Thorn Birds, Shōgun, Centennial, Scarlett, and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Other TV staples, variety shows and primetime serials that she watched with regularity included Donny & Marie, Lassie, The Wild Wild West, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Kung Fu, Charlie’s Angels, Mission Impossible, Fantasy Island, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Family Ties, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, Police Woman, Hotel, The Love Boat, Dallas, and Dynasty, as well as the more recent ones such as Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Adventures of Sinbad, Charmed, Heroes, Lost, Prison Break, Sleepy Hollow, Once Upon a Time, Under the Dome, Hawaii Five-O, Vikings, and Chicago Fire.

Unlike her female siblings, and also despite her largely Chinese-educated background, Khim seemed to have developed a considerably large number of interests in Western culture and popular media, all of which were cultivated and nurtured without sacrificing or compromising moral virtues and cultural values that stemmed from her upbringing. In other words, both her physical appearance and her cultural capital were dynamic mixtures and contrasting juxtapositions of the occidental and the oriental, not to mention that she spoke and wrote in several languages, and that she could also fluently converse in multiple Chinese dialects. To that extent, she was ostensibly both multilingual and multicultural, never mind whether she was ever (proven to be) truly Eurasian or biracial. In any case, some of her tastes in, and predilections for, certain western things and trends can be definitely traced to the influences of two of her older male siblings, to whom she was particularly close. From her late English-educated second elder brother (温旭京), she absorbed his liking for Western films and songs; and from her late Chinese-educated fourth elder brother (温墉京), she acquired a fondness for dancing.

Khim’s Hollywood Idol - Tyrone Power

Khim’s Hollywood Idol – Tyrone Power

As a result, Khim had an enduring penchant for savouring Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals created in the 1930s to 1980s. For instance, Khim’s favourite Hollywood idol was Tyrone Power, whom she contacted and asked for a photo, and whom she lamented to have died too young. Khim loved watching the lead actors in Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz, and Gone with the Wind, all of which are classic movies of 1939. She liked Linda Darnell, Errol Flynn, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, Charlton Heston, Richard Chamberlain, Cornel Wilde, Robert Conrad, Audrey Hepburn, Irene Dunne, Shirley MacLaine, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Debbie Reynolds, Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Sabu Dastagir, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalbán, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Marlon Brando, Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons, James Dean, Jack Lemmon, Richard Burton, Paul Newman, Laurence Olivier, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Merle Oberon, Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, David Niven, Henry Fonda, James Mason, Rod Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Grace Kelly, Vivien Leigh, Maureen O’Hara, Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Betty Hutton, Dorothy Lamour, Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Jennifer Jones, Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charlie Chaplin, Danny Kaye, Roger Moore, Omar Sharif, Peter O’Toole, William Holden and Glenn Ford, but not so much John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

Khim would sometimes recount to me what she could remember about her favourite movie stars in their films as well as their lives. For example, Khim had commented to me over the years on the looks, voice and multiple marriages of Elizabeth Taylor, and in particular, how Taylor, after losing her husband, film producer Mike Todd, to a plane crash, managed to marry her best friend Debbie Reynolds’ husband, Eddie Fisher, by causing the latter to divorce Reynolds, who, quite ironically, had had the good heart to console Taylor after Todd’s untimely demise. As another example, Khim seemed to believe that it was quite possible for an actor to be too beautiful or overly handsome, for she opined that Tony Curtis was so good-looking that he looked more like a woman than a man.

More recent and younger actors whom Khim liked and mentioned included Jane Seymour, Joe Lando, Kevin Sorbo, Christopher Reeve, Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Dustin Hoffman, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Michael J Fox, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Dominic Monaghan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr, Hugh Jackman, Zachary Quinto, Travis Fimmel and Taylor Kinney. In particular, Khim had long admired Timothy Dalton for his portrayal of James Bond as well as his characterization of Rhett Butler in the sequel to Gone with the Wind, entitled Scarlett, a 1994 American six-hour television miniseries.

Regarding music, on the one hand, Khim adored the songs and sentimental ballads of Sigmund Romberg, Jerome Kern, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Irwin Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Paul Francis Webster, Sammy Fain, Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, as well as Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. On the other hand, Khim was enamoured by the singing of Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Mario Lanza, Dick Haymes, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Eddie Fisher, Matt Monro, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Andy Williams, Steve Lawrence, Pat Boone, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Dinah Shore, Nat King Cole, Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Shirley Jones, Gordon MacRae, Elvis Presley, Mandy Patinkin, Barbra Streisand, Nana Mouskouri, Olivia Newton-John, Diana Ross, the Carpenters, Julio Iglesias, the Three Tenors, Il Divo, and Andrea Bocelli, many of whom Khim could instantly name or recognize whenever she watched or listened to their respective singings with gusto.

Khim’s favourite musicals and musical films included April Love, Night and Day, Top Hat, Shall We Dance, I Married an Angel, Roberta, Gigi, Gypsy, Oliver!, Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, An American in Paris, The Red Shoes, Meet Me in St Louis, The Band Wagon, Annie Get Your Gun, Hello, Dolly!, Evita, Yentl, Mary Poppins, Camelot, Kiss Me, Kate, Calamity Jane, Funny Face, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Sleeping Beauty, The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Happy Feet, Mulan, The Lion King, Xanadu, and Moulin Rouge!. Khim’s most beloved operettas were none other than The Student Prince, The Desert Song, and The Merry Widow, though she was also very fond of operas such as Carmen and Madama Butterfly.

Khim as a Young Adult

Khim as a Young Adult

Periodic musical shows or events that Khim had been willing to be reminded of, and to follow with considerable interest, included the Royal Variety Performance, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Vienna New Year’s Concert, André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra, the Eurovision Song Contest, Celtic Woman, Carols by Candlelight, the Australian National Eisteddfod, the Academy Awards (film), the Emmy Awards (television), the Tony Awards (theater and Broadway), the Grammy Awards (music), as well as the Olympic Games, specifically those involving dance and music such as gymnastics, synchronized swimming, figure skating and ice dancing. International reality television competition franchises such as The X-Factor, Idols, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing with the Stars also attracted Khim’s attention. In particular, Khim had always remembered Anthony Callea, Jessica Mauboy and Guy Sebastian from Australian Idol, and lived long enough to see the last two representing Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest.

As for instrumentals, Khim would always welcome the best of semiclassical, easy listening, ballroom music, light music, mood music, beautiful music, elevator music, Muzak and film music, composed or arranged by the likes of Richard Clayderman, Annunzio Paolo Mantovani, Percy Faith, Geoff Love, Yanni (Yiannis Chryssomallis), James Last, Paul Mauriat, Ferrante & Teicher, Władziu Valentino Liberace, Henry Mancini, Burt Bacharach, John Barry, Michel Legrand, Francis Lai, Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, Michael Masser, Marvin Hamlisch, Paul Williams, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Dave Grusin, David Foster, Quincy Jones, David Shire, Johnny Harris, Nelson Riddle, Ray Conniff, Gordon Jenkins, Mel Tormé, Billy May, Leroy Anderson, Vic Schoen, Roger Williams, Tommy Dorsey, Walter Gross, Robert Russell Bennett, Buddy Bregman, Ernie Freeman, Bert Kaempfert, Louis Clark and Victor Young, as well as those of the Boston Pops Orchestra such as Arthur Fiedler and John Williams. Khim would also readily welcome the discographies of other light music orchestras such as the 101 Strings Orchestra, BBC Radio Orchestra, New World Orchestra and Rio Carnival Orchestra, whose repertoires often comprised in-house arrangements of popular standards. Light orchestral music and film scores that attracted Khim’s attention were those of Albert Ketèlbey, Miklós Rózsa, Richard Addinsell, Eric Coates, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Charles Williams, Hubert Bath and Angela Morley.

It is noteworthy that Khim would generally be oblivious to the names and contributions of such composers and arrangers, even though she seemed to be instinctively cognizant of, and satisfied by, the overall quality of the music. At best, she would only know or remember a handful of those composers and arrangers if I were to mention their names or to comment on the styles and merits of their compositions, orchestrations or arrangements, let alone their choreographies, screenplays, stage productions or artistic directions when certain works also significantly involved dancing, storytelling, visual presentations or even interactive components. Since Khim was usually more interested in the singers and actors associated with the films and musicals that she already knew and liked, she naturally connected her favourite music and songs to the names of the lead singers or the titles of the musical films, and thus rarely the names of the composers or arrangers. By the same token, the music and songs of ABBA, Elton John, Billy Joel, the Bee Gees, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, Michael Jackson and so on would have been much more prominently appearing on Khim’s musical radar, had those songwriters also been prominent actors or film stars.

In any case, Khim enjoyed being quizzed by me about song titles, singers’ names, film titles and actors’ names. For instance, I would ask her to name two films in which William Holden and Jennifer Jones starred together. She could name Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing of 1955, but not The Towering Inferno of 1974. On occasions, Khim would reverse the role and be the quizzer, if not the teaser!

Khim in Middle Age (Jan 1984)

Khim in Middle Age (Jan 1984)

Khim at 51 in 1982

Khim at 51 in 1982

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

Khim had also enjoyed parlour music, pop music, and the less serious form of Western classical music, such as Sir Edward Elgar’s “Salut d’Amour”, as well as the popular French song “Hymne à l’amour” by Édith Piaf and Marguerite Monnot, later adapted into English as “If You Love Me (Really Love Me)” with lyrics by Geoffrey Parsons. The latter always seemed to melt Khim’s heart, causing her to brim with joy. Seeing that the love song had such a lasting and favourable impression on Khim, I bought her about ten years ago in 2009 a Royal Albert musical jewellery box capable of playing the very tune after being wound up manually, in addition to my playing an instrumental rendition of the song for her on the electronic organ from time to time.

Royal Albert Old Country Roses Musical Heart Jewellery Box and Limoges Porcelain Vase

Khai purchased for Khim a Royal Albert Old Country Roses Musical Heart Jewellery Box, placed next to a Limoges Porcelain Vase, which denotes the French origin of the song “If You Love Me (Really Love Me)”, first titled “Hymne à l’amour” and sung in French.

The following version of “If You Love Me (Really Love Me)” from the 1973 album Songs from her TV series, as conducted by Peter Knight and sung by Nana Mouskouri in both English and French, is lovingly dedicated to Khim in remembrance of her fondness for this love song and her appreciation of my organ rendition. Accompanying the song in the video are beautiful images of Nature as well as panning still shots from the classic movie Gone with the Wind, one of Khim’s all-time favourite films.

The song title “If You Love Me (Really Love Me)” easily reminds me of “If I Loved You”, a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. The latter was definitely one of Khim’s all-time favourite tunes, in addition to being one of the very few songs whose lyrics Khim could remember in its entirety. This tune was one that we could happily sing together once in a while, as I also had the option of willingly setting myself the challenge of instantly harmonizing against her vocal part, my accompanying us on the electronic organ notwithstanding.

Whilst Khim could show some interest in the exotic sounds of some world music, relaxation music and ambient music, she was generally indifferent towards rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, funk, disco, soul, rap, hip-hop, experimental music and avant-garde music, even though I had continued to make some good efforts in exposing her to such diverse genres over the years. However, Khim would eventually come to accept and appreciate some disco music, as I continued over the years to expose her to the well-known oeuvres of Geoff Love and Meco (Domenico Monardo) that have been based on the soundtracks of science-fiction movies and TV series such as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Logan’s Run, Space 1999, and Star Trek, which Khim had watched and remembered. In addition, I would occasionally play my disco arrangements of her favourite movie soundtracks, including “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “Tammy”, the latter being shown in the video as follows.

In fact, my disco version of “Tammy” originates from the third constituent of a large project, since I had taken the time and artistic liberty during 2004 to create 35 arrangements of “Tammy”, a popular tune that I had played for Khim many times on the electronic organ. The tune was nominated for the 1957 Oscar for Best Original Song after making its debut in the 1957 romantic comedy film Tammy and the Bachelor, starring one of Khim’s favourite actresses, Debbie Reynolds. Each of the 35 arrangements in the project was performed as a separate musical genre, such that Khim could follow the melodic outline of the song no matter how much the music had been stylistically transformed by being arranged in a particular genre. The process can be likened to the formal technique of theme and variations used by many classical and later composers, except that each variation of the theme is in an entirely different musical genre. The project was more or less completed in November 2004, on the first anniversary of her becoming a widow. As shown in the sleeve note below, the resulting 35 variations were recorded onto two compact discs for instant playback.

The CD sleeve note showing SoundEagle’s 35 Variations on Tammy

The CD sleeve note showing SoundEagle🦅’s 35 Variations on Tammy

Furthermore, I had purposely used only the first four lines of the tune (corresponding to the first 16 bars of the melody) as the source material for those variations.

The first 16 bars of Tammy

The first 16 bars of Tammy

The results of the 35 theme and variations on “Tammy” certainly imparted plenty of musical entertainment cum education for Khim, as well as hours of fun-inducing quiz marathon for some visitors who were invited to guess and name the nearly three dozen genres. On the whole, Khim had comfortably enjoyed those variations created in the genres with which she was familiar, such as waltz, Argentinian tango, polka, big band, jive, bossanova and the like. As mentioned, since Khim liked Johnny Depp, especially in the film series Pirates of the Caribbean, the Caribbean version of “Tammy”, constituting the 24th variation on the tune, is hereby dedicated to Khim as follows.

Khim under a coconut tree (16 Aug 1960)

Khim under a coconut tree (16 Aug 1960)

In contrast, the musical complexity as well as the dramatic transformations of “Tammy” in some of the variations stretched or even strained not just the limits of Khim’s musical appreciation but also the boundaries of the genres themselves, especially hard rock, funk, house, hip-hop, gospel shuffle and the like, which are so remotely related in style and markedly different in instrumentation when they are compared to the gentle ballad that characterizes the original song. Such arrangements of “Tammy”, particularly the more extended and sophisticated ones, were indeed felt to be very novel and musically challenging to Khim, who had far fewer prior experiences in those unfamiliar genres by which to guide and orientate herself. Included herewith for demonstration is the hard rock version of “Tammy”, which constitutes the 8th variation.

Overall, Khim was considerably satisfied and amused by the process of theme and variations, musically skinning “Tammy” in so many ways to tickle her aural imaginations. In a nutshell, Khim had been taken along an extensive, multicultural journey across a series of entertainingly engaging sonic terrains, many of which she would otherwise never or seldom have come across.

To mention a few more examples, Khim’s preferred choices of music composed before the 20th century stayed mainly within the standard repertoires from the Classical era as well as the early and middle Romantic periods. In later years, I managed to stretch her listening repertoires to cover the works of late Romantic composers such as Rachmaninov and Scriabin, many of which she gradually learnt to appreciate nearly as much as those of Tchaikovsky and Chopin, which she had always amply admired. Reaching beyond the Romantic era, the majority of art music, serious music and canonical music of the 20th century would tend to overwhelm or confound Khim’s musical expectation and aesthetic sensibility, especially those compositions crafted with advanced structural and theoretical considerations.

For instance, the works of musical impressionism as spearheaded by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel from 1890 to 1930 mostly eluded Khim’s comprehension, since their colouristic sound, impressionistic timbre, unwonted texture, layered orchestration, unusual chord combinations, chromatic chords, extended harmonies, harmonic fluidity, ambiguous tonality, melodic fragmentation, parallel motion, modal and exotic scales, as well as extra-musicality and evocative titles, had coalesced to mystify Khim, who at best regarded or lumped them as background music used in films. Nevertheless, Khim was able to enjoy the more accessible musical compositions of the impressionist masters, such as “Clair de Lune”, the third and most famous movement of Debussy’s Suite bergamasque. This suite for solo piano was initially composed around 1890 when the composer was 28 years old, but was significantly revised just before its publication in 1905. Interestingly, “Clair de Lune” had been arranged for organ in the score for the 1956 American epic Western drama film Giant by the Ukrainian-born American film composer and conductor, Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin, who received twenty-two Academy Award nominations and won four Oscars, including Best Original Score for the 1952 American Western film High Noon, and Best Original Song for “The Ballad of High Noon”. All of these had long been songs and films favoured by Khim, who had recounted to me over the years what she could remember about her favourite actors Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean in Giant as well as Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in High Noon. For these reasons, I hereby dedicate to Khim my orchestral transcription of “Clair de Lune”, played and recorded by me on the electronic organ. In any case, my introducing this rendition of “Clair de Lune” to Khim in the early 1990s had further enriched the moon-themed and lunar-inspired repertoire that she used to enjoy much and know well, including Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” and the first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

At the earlier end of the Western musical canon lies the body of works from the pre-classical period, with which I tempted Khim’s musical palette by performing on the electronic organ the slower and more lyrical pieces by the Baroque composer Bach, such as “Sheep May Safely Graze”, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, “Air on the G String”, and “Sinfonia (Arioso) from Cantata BWV 156”, the latter of which is arranged in my own orchestral interpretation and dedicated to Khim as follows.

All in all, it would seem that Khim found herself to be somewhat out on a limb, and that she considered some musical genres to be incomprehensible, unpleasant, unmeaningful or unenjoyable, if her musical experiences were not hitherto bolstered, introduced, accompanied or enhanced by familiar or favourite films, musicals or operettas. That Khim’s focus had been on mostly accessible and enjoyable repertoires throughout her life neither invalidated nor detracted from her musical aptitude and sensibility that she managed to develop in spite of her lack of professional musical training. After all, Khim had indeed flourished and lived vicariously through the appealing artistries and prodigious talents of her favoured singers, actors, musicians and dancers, who satisfied the aesthetic preferences imprinted in Khim during her formative years, and who constituted a large part of Khim’s recreational staples and “comfort food”, insofar as Khim had maintained a special love throughout her adult life for the songs, shows and stars that she had enjoyed and understood as a child, teenager and young adult. In later life, she relived and even enhanced the profound aesthetic experiences that she had acquired in her youth by means of my supporting and complementing Khim during her late middle and old ages. This support and complementation unfolded in the course of our musical journey and our mutual enjoyment of her cherished songs, shows and stars, plus the new ones that I introduced to Khim via my ongoing, varied endeavours in diversifying her aesthetic palettes and media consumption, along with my encouraging and tutoring her to make music on the electronic organ.

It was thus incumbent on me to ensure that Khim had ample music and video materials to select from the home library according to her whim or mood, even though I sometimes spared her the effort of choosing, let alone the technicality of finding and putting them in the music and video players to start enjoying them. In addition, Khim had been given her daily dose of songs from the olden days to relish to her heart’s content via the Crooner Radio online. Apart from Western films and TV series, Khim of course enjoyed watching Chinese and Cantonese movies and serials, including sentimental films and action flicks. Khim would sometimes feel quite nostalgic and might even have a conversation or reminiscence with me about some bygone matters or persons, when or after I played her favourite movies or songs stored on DVDs, compact discs or memory sticks. For example, she particularly treasured the music and songs of Steven Liu Chia-Chang (劉家昌), a former composer, songwriter, lyricist, singer, screenwriter, film director and actor, whom she affectionately regarded as “鬼才”, an uncanny, remarkable genius. Khim would not mind listening daily to his musical oeuvres, which almost invariably lifted her spirit and perked her up, mentally transporting her back to the good times of her youth, and reminding her of the many Chinese movies and actors that she used to watch. How the lyricisms of such Chinese classics and popular songs from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s captivated Khim can be best exemplified by the solo piano music and light instrumental arrangements of the well-known Singaporean pianist Jimmy Chan (陳占美), which were originally released on analogue cassette tapes in the mid 1980s and later digitally preserved on two compact discs in 2005 for Khim, who, on being so thrilled by and satisfied with the upgraded amenity for savouring her favourite Chinese music on the digital medium that she was willing to copy by hand all of the song titles from the two cassette liner notes to the one CD sleeve note as shown below, which is immediately followed by the three YouTube videos containing respectively Jimmy Chan’s first three piano medleys, played in the order listed in the leftmost column of Khim’s handwritten sleeve note.

Khim’s Favourite Chinese Music as Written by Herself on the CD Sleeve Note, Played by Jimmy Chan (陳占美)

Khim’s Favourite Chinese Music as Written by Herself on the CD Sleeve Note, Played by Jimmy Chan (陳占美)

Just Piano Medleys

Green Island Serenade (綠島小夜曲); At the Riverside (在水一方); The Pearl Curtain of Dream (一簾幽夢); Unforgettable You (忘不了的你); Ode to Autumn (秋詩篇篇)

Where’s My Home (我家在那裡); Full Moon over the Western Chamber (月滿西樓); Sea Gull (海鷗); Inseparable (你儂我儂); Little White Sail Boat (小白船); The Plum Flower (梅花)

Subaru (另一種鄉愁); Spring of the Northern Country (榕樹下); Goodbye My Love (再見我的愛人); The Gift Of Love (愛的禮物); Sukiyaki (昂首闊步往前行)

The emotional ties and sentimental tugs elicited in Khim by music and movie were highly palpable, vicarious and touching to me, to the extent that they triggered in Khim the sense of joyful remembrance and visceral contentment, which she could thankfully access or achieve via the sounds of music, with or without the images of movie. They represented and constituted a potent nexus of mood elixir, diversion therapy and audiovisual entertainment, in which I routinely indulged Khim, even when she was gravely ill at home or in hospital, so as to soften the reality that many of the things and folks that she treasured had departed, and that she was increasingly facing her very own mortality, albeit never alone and always in my company, right up to the final moments. In concluding the discussion on Khim’s musical journey, I would hereby very much like to dedicate wholeheartedly the following composition of mine to her journey of life as well as music.

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

Away from the territories of songs and dramas, and far removed from the glitz and glamour of the motion picture industry, Khim had also found firm footing in diverse areas. Documentary films about Nature, animals and plants also interested Khim, especially those narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Apart from those pertaining to music and dance, Khim would readily engage in watching infotainments, educational programmes, variety shows and television series about food, health, cooking, gardening, travelling, jewellery, antiques, culture, history, Egyptology, Mayan archaeology, and the magic of David Copperfield, whom she considered to be a very competent and handsome Houdini of her era.

For current news, Khim would be satisfied with my regular switching on for her those presented on ABC TV as well as the Hong Kong news and Chinese News on SBS TV, plus occasional viewings of news and talk shows delivered on commercial channels. Nonetheless, Khim had often found some investigative journalism and current affairs documentary television programs such as Four Corners, Foreign Correspondent, Insiders, Q&A, Dateline, Lateline, Stateline, Landline, Media Watch, World Watch, Catalyst, Gruen, The Book Club, The Checkout, The Mix, and The Drum to be too in-depth and demanding for her comprehension due to her extant English language barrier.

In recent years, Khim had come to appreciate astronomy and science more than usually ever since she took a very special liking for Brian Cox and his science programmes such as the Wonders of… series, Human Universe and Forces of Nature, even as her memory of the late Carl Sagan and his award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage gradually faded into oblivion. Khim was also keen on viewing and mentioning the ever-active and engaging Chris Brown, a veterinary surgeon, television presenter and author who is best known for the Australian factual television series called Bondi Vet.

Khim usually had a fair amount of appetite for horror films, including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Omen, Poltergeist, Jaws, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, The Addams Family, Godzilla, The Exorcist, The Mummy, Predator, Underworld, and Blade, but not so much Alien, even though we watched this 1979 science-fiction horror film at a cinema when it was premiered in Kuala Lumpur. So eerily scary and suspenseful was the movie that I slept very poorly during that night, my mind reliving those frightful and gory moments.

Suspense thrillers that won Khim over comprised The Day the Earth Stood Still, Taken, The Fugitive, Casino Royale, The Terminator, Die Hard, Entrapment, Phone Booth, Speed, and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Khim was particularly impressed by some of the greatest classics of Alfred Hitchcock who was known as the “Master of Suspense”, whose thrillers grabbed Khim’s attention with innovative plots and film techniques, plus many leading actors who were amongst her favourite movie stars. Such films included Spellbound (Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck), Rear Window (James Stewart and Grace Kelly), To Catch a Thief (Cary Grant and Grace Kelly), Vertigo (James Stewart and Kim Novak), North by Northwest (Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason), Psycho (Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh), and The Birds (Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren).

Spy thrillers had more success in courting Khim, especially Mission Impossible and James Bond, the latter of which also happens to be the longest continually running film series of all time, beginning in 1962 with Dr. No. Khim had never mentioned to me which Bond film(s) she favoured the most, though I could discern from her degree of enthusiasm and frequency of reference that she preferred Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan to Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, let alone George Lazenby. As far as I know, Khim only ever had one opportunity to experience a Bond film on the big screen, when Never Say Never Again was premiered in 1983 at a cinema in Penang, where it was watched by Khim and me along with some of my uncles, unties and cousins, the youngest of whom chuckled incessantly both during and after the film at what must have been to them an unprecedented level of confronting, gratuitous, raunchy, seductive or suggestive exposure of the human flesh at close range, especially in the revealing scene of Sean Connery massaging Kim Basinger. On the whole, Khim never seemed to be tired of watching the premieres and repeats of the James Bond movies on television. On many occasions, Khim had commented to me on how good-looking and gentlemanly Dalton was, how hairy Brosnan and Connery were, what a flirt and womanizer Connery was, and how Moore suffered aches and pains in his old age due to his physically demanding role in the Bond films. Always heard during the title sequences of Bond films, the theme songs that Khim liked and knew best were, quite strangely, the ones that contain four words in their respective titles, namely, “From Russia with Love”, “The Look of Love”, “Nobody Does It Better”, “You Only Live Twice”, and “For Your Eyes Only”, the first of which she had attempted to play on the electronic organ, the first three of which I had played on the same instrument many times, and the last two of which I had rearranged, reorchestrated and recorded on one of my synthesizers for our enjoyment.

In the science-fiction department, Khim was no slouch or stranger, as she would readily follow TV series such as Heroes, Lost, and Under the Dome, or watch classic movies such as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which we were fortunate enough to watch on the big screen when the first two were premiered in 1977, the third in 1978 and the latter in 1982. Khim would come to appreciate the epic film scores of these blockbusters. However, Khim considered many of the more recent sci-fi movies laden with computer-generated imagery (CGI) to be too effects-driven, manic, fast-paced or far-fetched. Nevertheless, she was able to enjoy blockbuster sci-fi movies such as The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Planet of the Apes, Men in Black, The Terminator, Total Recall, Back to the Future, I, Robot, Thor, Iron Man, and X-Men. Amusingly, Khim had the odd habit of referring to Hugh Jackman as Human Jack or Jack Human.

There were certain science-fiction sagas that had captured a considerable amount of Khim’s time and interest. In particular, she was very fond of watching the old TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Lost in Space, Space 1999, Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek, the latter of which is the same age as me, preceding my birth by just 22 days. Amazingly, I discovered that Khim and the two lead actors in Star Trek were all born in the same year and month, whereby Khim is four days older than William Shatner (as Captain Kirk), who in turn is four days older than Leonard Nimoy (as Spock). Now that Khim passed away recently and Leonard did so four and a half years ago, William is the only one alive. Beam Khim up, Kirk! Overall, Khim had continued to watch the two growing older and closer in the Star Trek films and television series, as she herself, the oldest of the three, also accumulated years of memories and interstellar wisdom as she witnessed the original cast of the series enduringly embarking on “the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in Star Trek (12 Jan 1968)

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in Star Trek (12 Jan 1968)

More importantly, Khim turned me into her silver-screen partner and her home-cinema chaperone, given that very early on, Khim was all too successful in instilling such interests of hers in me without much prompting or encouragement. As a result, she could share and communicate her knowledge and enjoyment of such interests with me more than with anyone else. It is as though Khim was preparing me very far in advance to be her eventual companion when she became a widow such that she could still admire her matinée idols and movie stars whilst having me around to share her excitements, and when necessary or requested, to clarify, explain, interpret or translate for her the conversations and plots of whatever she happened to be watching on TV or DVD.

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

Recorded on film and later transferred to video on DVD for posterity, like scenes leaping out of a Hollywood storyboard, Khim’s wedding celebrated in a partly traditional Chinese and partly western ceremony was as satisfying and glamorous as she could hope for, not to mention that she wedded someone of her own choosing and to her liking, his also having good looks notwithstanding.

Khim’s Wedding Day (2 April 1961) with Khai’s music “Vintage Dreaming” and “Where The Eagles Fly”

Khim’s Wedding Day with Her Mother and Sisters (2 April 1961 Sunday)

Khim’s Wedding Day with Her Mother and Sisters (2 April 1961 Sunday)

Khim’s Wedding Photo (2 April 1961 Sunday)

Khim’s Wedding Photo (2 April 1961 Sunday)

Khim and Her Husband Cutting the Wedding Cake (2 April 1961)

Khim and Her Husband Cutting the Wedding Cake (2 April 1961)

The memorable wedding of Khim and her other significant half was neither a marriage of convenience nor a union based on financial calculus. In Khim, my late father, or anybody for that matter, found and witnessed a beautiful being whose social value and outlook had, in her own ways and through her personality, her consistency and her conviction, both resisted and transcended many of the limits and influences that had been imposed by her gender, racial, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, and that had been constrained and shaped by the cultural milieus and social circles available to her at the time. Having neither family inheritance nor family business to fall back upon, and having neither the means to receive tertiary education nor the luxury to enter the job market in which many occupations were often heavily reserved for the male population, she relied on her studiousness to ascend to the highest career available to those of her social standing and wealth or lack thereof, by becoming a primary school educator teaching six days a week for 36 years, later also fulfilling her roles as a wife and a mother of two sons. Not to be taken for granted and glossed over in this eulogy, Khim had gone as far as her circumstances and resources allowed, dedicating herself for about three-quarters of her life to many people’s welfare and education, both in school and at home.

Khim with Her Second Year C Class Students at Hu Yew Seah Girls’ School (輔友女學校) in Penang (Dec 1953)

Khim with Her Second Year C Class Students at Hu Yew Seah Girls’ School (輔友女學校) in Penang (Dec 1953)

In 36 uninterrupted years from 1950 to 1986, and for six days a week, Khim had taught at the following four schools:

  1. 毓南小學 (1950-1952) Penang, Malaysia
  2. 輔友女學校 (1952-1967) Hu Yew Seah Girls’ School, 41 and 45, Madras Lane, Penang, Malaysia
  3. 民衆學校 (1968-1972) Mun Choong (National Type Primary Chinese) School, Batu Village, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia
  4. 中華女校 (1973-1986) Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (SRJK Cina) Chung Hua Primary School at Ampang Road, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia

Khim had meticuolously documented her school life in one of the four autobiographical projects in the form of an epic 40-page essay entitled “Teaching at School (在校教書)”, in which the very first three paragraphs pertaining to Khim’s earliest experience and overall summary of the fourth and last school are included below. This is then followed by a scanned photo showing all of the 16 teachers of the school in 1975. The excerpt reveals which class and what subjects Khim taught; the number of teachers in school and the headmaster’s good looks, personality and family background; Khim’s relationship and attunement with her students in class and her discerning arrangement for those with good grades to serve as team leaders helping those with poor grades; plus Khim’s account of her numerous teaching duties to be carried out, various homework to be set and marked, as well as the main lessons, exercise books, textbooks and workbooks involved in different subjects; along with how Khim commuted to school and what she found out about her students in the canteen. On the whole, the three paragraphs constitute a fairly concise but intimate recollection of her life as a highly devoted educator and competent mentor as well as a friendly and observant colleague.

中華女校位於安邦路,是一座兩層的建築物。 學生分上下午班上課,三年級以上的班級在上午上課,一年級和二年級在下午上課。 我教五年級,除了英文,馬來文和音樂,其他的科目全部包辦,並且還要兼別班的地理或歷史課。 全校共有十多位教師,校長名叫梁含英。 她是上海人,端莊美麗,有的同事稱她小周璇。 周璇是中國四十和五十年代的電影明星,人長得美麗,歌聲很好,有金桑子的美稱。 梁校長在小的時候不幸患上小兒痲痺症,她家境很好,她的父親找名醫替她治療,雖然沒有治好,但是她走起路來並不跛得很利害。 她為人和藹可親,和同事都很合得來。

我第一天去上就喉嚨不舒服,接著聲音沙啞,最後說話沒有聲音,幸虧幾天就好了。 我有一個感覺,就是學生見我是新來的老師,他們想探試我的教學能力,後來知道我確實能勝任,也就心服了,很尊敬我。 教室裡的桌椅排列成六七行,我每行選出一個成績優良的學生做組長,幫忙教成績差的學生。 級長幫忙收作業簿和派作業簿,休息時在教室外面的黑板上填寫學生出席和缺席人數。 我們做老師的工作實在很忙,要批改的作業很多。 比如華語科就有大小楷,生字,抄書,聽寫,週記,作文等。 算術科除了正課 A B 兩本練習簿,還有補充教材作業簿,科學地理歷史也有補充教材作業簿。 所以我們一空節就忙著改簿子,至於週記和作文簿,只有帶回家去改了。 我們每天大概有一兩節的空節,如果這天有老師生並請假,校長就會編有空節的老師去代課,代課老師多數是給學生看圖書,維持班上的秩序。

學校有兩輛校車,一輛負載市區的學生,另一輛負責載淡江,安邦再也及安邦新村的學生,從此我就搭校車學校,不必辛苦去搭巴士了。 學校有一個食堂,我調查到我那班學生很多沒有吃早餐,他們父母給他們零用錢,他們來到學校就到食堂去買冰水喝,一點也不健康,餓著肚子怎麼能集中精神讀書呢。 而我還是和以前一樣,帶麵包去吃,放學回到家才吃午餐。

Khim’s Third Year as a School Teacher in 中華女校 Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (SRJK Cina) Chung Hua Primary School at Ampang Road, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia (1975)

Khim’s Third Year as a School Teacher in 中華女校 Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (SRJK Cina) Chung Hua Primary School at Ampang Road, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia (1975)
Khim was the second teacher from the right in the front row. She was the only one of the seated seven to have both feet fully visible, since she chose to sit without crossing her feet. She was also the only lady in the front row not bringing or holding a handbag.

I can still vividly recall that Khim and I had to wake up at half past five in the morning to get ready for going to different schools in the 1970s, as I had never attended the school at which Khim taught, for my parents had all along decided to send me to the larger Lai Meng Chinese Primary School (黎明華文小學) located more than one third farther than the distance between her school and home, the annoying traffic jam as well as the bothersome air and noise pollutions coupled with the tropical heat and humidity notwithstanding. Even after returning home from school in the early afternoon, Khim had to make time for doing some house chores and marking her students’ homework and tests as well as preparing lesson plans and documenting curricula before the next day began. Despite having to wade through my heavy loads of homework assigned to me by my school teachers every day except Sunday, I would regularly go through stacks of exercise books that Khim had taken home to mark so that I could read some of her best students’ essays. The two outstanding pupils who had impressed me the most were 黃明鑽 and 李玉梅, who had exceptional writing skills and very attractive handwritings (especially the former), and both of whom I had always remembered fondly and mentioned occasionally to Khim throughout all these years. To what extent Khim had been responsible for (inspiring and contributing to) the achievements of such brilliant students cannot be determined, since I had never met those students and had hardly ever witnessed how Khim taught in school, even at the best of rare opportunities. Nevertheless, I can attest to the fact that the standards of the two abovementioned students’ essays and other homework had far exceeded what was considered to be highly satisfactory, never mind the average. Perhaps one could indeed link my having been exposed to such brilliant achievements at such an early age to my ongoing attention to seeking improvement and maintaining excellence in my own writings as well as those of my former students at universities. Such were the influences and legacies of Khim as a teacher (and mother), whether directly and intentionally or not.

Khim at the Sports Competition of Her School (1983)

Khim at the Sports Competition of Her School (1983)

Khim’s Last Complete Year as a School Teacher in 中華女校 Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (SRJK Cina) Chung Hua Primary School at Ampang Road, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia (Oct 1985)

Khim’s Last Complete Year as a School Teacher in 中華女校 Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (SRJK Cina) Chung Hua Primary School at Ampang Road, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia (Oct 1985)

As a long-term educator devoted to her profession since 1950, Khim retired in mid March 1986 from teaching, leaving many students as well as teachers a lasting legacy stretching over 36 years, having taught the majority of school subjects, including Chinese, civics, science, maths, history, geography, arts and physical education, except Malay, English and music. On Sunday, 12 October 2008, Wei Fen Zhang, the former deputy headmaster of Khim’s former school (中華女校前任副校長張偉芬) — one of Khim’s most beloved younger fellow teachers who blogs by the name of 窗户之歌 — wrote as follows in a heartfelt post entitled “痛击” about the often unspoken challenge, sacrifice and dedication of being a teacher, especially the honourable and stalwart kind that Khim had never ceased to be even beyond retirement.

孟子曾云:“得天下英才而教育之,一乐也。” 基于这个信念,她几乎把毕生的青春都奉献给了教育。 不敢说是伟大,但秉着敬业乐业的精神,默默地耕耘不问收获,更没有野心,仅仅只是想把知识学问传授给下一代,更乐莫过与和莘莘学子一起分享人生阅历、和他们一起笑,一起开心。 她仅想专注于教书工作,因为她认为一个老师的价值不在于追求个人的荣誉,而是在于学生毕业二十年后在他们的记忆里还有个曾经教他们“人生”的小学老师。

Chung Hua Primary School Alumni Association
中華女校校友會 校友回校日 (9 Dec 2018)
Khim (温琴京) can be seen at 28:21 and 30:01

Despite being limited in her means, Khim had been prodigiously generous and protractedly unstinting, especially in the case of providing for her own mother. Whilst staying and teaching in George Town, Penang, from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Khim’s monthly allowance to her mother (陳瑾蘭) who stayed with Khim’s fourth elder brother (温墉京) always amounted to half of her monthly salary. Being one of the eldest sisters, Khim and her fourth brother during much of the same period also supported their younger siblings as they all stayed together in one rented house on 70 Kinta Lane (根打冷巷) from 1937 to 1955, then in a rented two-bedroom top floor of a corner house that used to be a coffee shop on Irvin Road (愛民路) from 1955 to 1957, and finally in a rented two-storey three-bedroom semi-detached vintage house built in 1934 on 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road (潘興隆路), where Khim’s mother would live out the rest of her life. The interior and exterior of the house as it was on 2nd April 1961 can be seen in the video entitled Khim’s Wedding Day. After our whole family moved to Kuala Lumpur, Selangor in December 1967, Khim still gave away a quarter of her salary to her mother on a monthly basis, and continued to provide an allowance even long after her mother passed away at the age of 99, stopping only when her fourth brother passed away at the age of 82.

Khai & Khim standing by the tree in front of 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road (Aug 1976)

Khai & Khim standing by the tree in front of 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road (Aug 1976)
Judging by the Google street view of the road taken in December 2013, the tree must have been logged when the house was converted as early as 2008 from a colonial link house into a guesthouse and cafe called Reflection Guest House.

Every year between 1968 and 1984, Khim and I would return to Penang and stay for about three to four weeks (out of the seven weeks of end-of-year school holiday period) with her mother and our closest relatives in the said house at 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road, plus very occasional shorter visits during certain end-of-term school holidays. Each bus trip would take about eight hours, departing from Kuala Lumpur in early morning around half past eight or nine o’clock, stopping for 10 minutes for morning recess, 40 minutes in Ipoh for lunch, another 10 minutes for afternoon recess, and arriving at Butterworth in late afternoon around half past four or five o’clock. We would be greeted by Khim’s fourth brother who would bring along his two children, space permitting in his good old Volkswagen Beetle. He would drive us to the ferry terminal to await one of the roll-on/roll-off double-deck ferries that could carry both passengers and automobiles across the Penang Strait, which required 15 to 20 minutes to traverse by ferry to arrive at the shore of Penang, plus about a quarter or a third of an hour to reach the destination where we would be cheerfully greeted by relatives in high spirits. I had been the only one accompanying Khim on all those trips in those 17 years, as my brother skipped certain trips and also later moved to Khim’s eldest sister’s household in Penang to complete his last few years of high school education and matriculation programme, and as my late father had to work, sometimes even at interstate locations. Whenever my late father could afford time for the trip, we would travel more or less the same route in the family car. Sometimes he would have to cut the trip short and return home by car for work after a week or two, leaving us to take the bus home later. The return journey from Penang to Kuala Lumpur would essentially be the reverse of the sequence of events described earlier. As the following map shows, the travelling time has been halved by the inaugurations of the 13.5-kilometre Penang Bridge in 1985 and the North–South Expressway northern route in the early 1990s, neither of which I have ever used since I left Malaysia in 1985 to study in Australia.

Khai & Khim with Her Mother, Husband and Eldest Son at 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road, George Town, Penang (Dec 1981)

Khai & Khim with Her Mother, Husband and Eldest Son at 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road, George Town, Penang (Dec 1981)
Back Row: 鍾凱元 鍾廷勤
Front Row: 温琴京 陳瑾蘭 鍾凱維

Every “vacation” in Penang, our most beloved place of origin, the epicentre of the Woon clan (温家族), was a precious opportunity for Khim to be reunited with her mother and siblings plus their spouses and children, and for me with my maternal grandmother, uncles, aunties and cousins. I was still too young to be firmly a member of Khim’s adult circles, though there were plenty of opportunities for the young and old to mingle with joy, as when we were taken to enjoy both the food and gatherings at certain restaurants and eateries, to browse around and purchase at various street shops and department stores, to be dazzled by some toy store where I was bought a spirograph set, to saunter in the botanical garden where wild monkeys roam freely, and to be in and near water at the usual swimming club and the seaside, where I acquired not just fond memories and swimming skill but also attractive seashells. The extent of our close ties and collective activities is well described by my two emails composed in the last two days of January 2008.

Date: Wednesday, 30 Jan 2008 3:05 PM
From: Khai-Wei [鍾凱維]
Subject: Reminiscing 16 PHL, Our Common Root

Dear Cousins,

First of all, for those few cousins who are still silent, please write us and refresh our memories of and connections with you, please, wherever you are and whatever you have been doing. You know who you are. We miss you much more than you realise, and you mean more to us than you assume.

And for those few cousins who are not even on our email list, please find and include their email addresses, and then send them this email (and others of your choice). Thank you.

Yesterday, my mum [温琴京] returned from Penang. It was a solid day as I was helping her to unpack, posting documents, shopping for groceries, plus cooking lunch and dinner, and taking her to see our family doctor for a regular checkup.

Owing to the generosity from some of you, I now have some new beads and brooches to work with, when I find the time and excuse to do so.

It seems that the video of mother’s wedding may be the only comprehensive footage of the olden time showcasing a whole suite of our elders in their golden years. Now restored digitally on a VCD, I hope that some of you have been able to secure a copy from my mother —- a copy that I duplicate for her to take back to Penang for the second time. Grap a copy from those who have it in Penang, and you’ll be able to watch Phuah Hin Leong [潘興隆路] in its former glory, and to see a good glimpse of our relatives and other people who made it so very special for so many of us, even before some of us were born. Watch it with your parents, children and grandchildren if you can. In any case, only the eldest of our cousins had the honour of being captured in the video.

By the way, my mother and I are still in touch from time to time with “Uncle Tye” [戴德懷] who filmed the wedding. He has been a long-term family friend of ours. Some of you might recognise his Japanese wife [Shigeko Tye] in the video.

I had a long phone conversation with Ah Fook [陳榮福] and a brief one with our third aunty [温燕京] a few days ago. I realise that Ah Fook skipped some of my emails (and perhaps some of yours too) as he was getting too many emails at the time. Now, to recapitulate what I feel about 16 PHL and to resonate with Soo Tung’s recollection, here’s an excerpt from my writing [addresed to Khee Shen 黃祺勝] dated 23 Dec 2007 [at 4:04 PM] to be shared with you, and perhaps to fill out, if I may, what some of our older cousins might have missed, as or since they vacated from 16 PHL:

I fully understand your sentiment and nostalgia regarding “the Christmas on the swings of Ah Poh [陳瑾蘭]’s house, listening to singing coming from the neighbours .. backed up by our in-house choir….”, which the gang of five (Sze Theen [温世婷], Sze Chern [温世政], Khee Mein [黃祺敏], you [黃祺勝] and I [鍾凱維]) and our parents and other cousins and relatives used to share every year, not to mention the food, the organ and piano music, the board games, the improvised frolicking and playful pretences or acted dramas, the somewhat “deep” but juvenile questions that some of us tentatively asked about ourselves, our lives and the world around us during our more “sedated” or pensive moments together, as well as the joys and tears of gathering and parting, of going to the beach and swimming clubs, of shopping and eating out, of going to the cinemas watching James Bond and ET, of visiting the botanical garden and our relatives’ houses, of us strolling on the back alley with Jack the sausage dog, of being loved, entertained and given gifts countless times over those years, of wishing the good times and carefree days to last indefinitely even as we became more mature, perceptive, realistic, responsible and then went our separate ways as adults, whether by choice or necessity . . . . . . .

Those events and experiences are our mutual pasts, now the “fodders” of our reminiscences, still exalted and elevated, treasured and played back from time to time as some of the fondest audio-visual clips of our memories. In a sense, I have just relived them with some or all of you as I recounted the events and experiences here —— emotional lexicons so familiar to us that we can dispense with any dictionary that may have been brought out …

Missing and thinking of all of you through time and distance, and through our common root, where we left our imprints, and where we were imprinted . . . . .

Kind Regards,
=========
KHAI-WEI
=========

Date: Thursday, 31 Jan 2008 7:36 PM
From: Khai-Wei [鍾凱維]
Subject: How We Played at 16 PHL

Dear Cousins,

Wow Yee Fay [譚藝霏]! That is a very comprehensive and well-written recollection or memoir for many of us! Thank you very much indeed.

My memories of aunty Mee [温美京]’s many former houses are generally uplifting, though I do recall many enticing things being hidden away from me as there was a “pervasive fear” of me damaging them. Aunty Mee’s and aunty Yen [温燕京]’s houses were so much BIGGER and RICHER compared to the tight semi-terrace house that I used to live in KL that my curiosity was over-stimulated and that my exploratory behaviours could not be stopped, even with a brain functioning at 45% capacity.

I also recalled Yee Wern [譚藝雯] and Yee Fay playing the piano and organ, and later Yee Lu [譚藝露] doing the same. All three sisters required a fair amount of coaxing from their mother, who has been my godmother [温美京] since I was born. I also remember Yee Lu occasionally crying and defending herself against her sisters, and trying to snatch back her toys.

At 16 Phuah Hin Leong [潘興隆路], many of us made the best use of the interior and exterior spaces and settings to do some of the most enjoyable things together. The board games kept us more stationary than other activities did, except toileting, eating and sleeping. I remember playing Monopoly, Chinese Checkers, Scrabble, Aeroplane Hop, Animal Checkers, Othello (which is also called Reversi) and others, which kept us competitive and occupied for hours.

Other activities kept us in motion and physically challenged. There was the ping pong game played on the dinning table with a piece of wood straddled across it. We tried both single and double matches. We also occasionally played ping pong against the walls. We even tried badminton and kick[ed] one or more balls on the street.

Of course, we played on or with the swing! We also played with Jack the dog. We tried to play with or tease Ah Poh [陳瑾蘭].

Then there were other improvisatory games and mock plays that I coordinated with inputs from the younger cousins. These included re-enacting the complete life cycle of butterflies from eggs, caterpillars and pupae to adult butterflies or moths. We even paired up and pretended to be married couples descending the long staircase in Ah Poh’s house and singing Richard Wagner’s Wedding Song. We played with the water hose that uncle Yoong [温墉京] used to water the plants and clean his car, and sometimes got reprimanded by him.

We played everywhere from the kitchen, the walkway surrounding the exterior of kitchen, the three bedrooms upstairs, the living room, the dining room, the front yard (where the swing was), the streets and the side yard (the car park and garden) to the backyard where the smelly drains were.

These were the days before the advent of computer games. Then we began to experience those tiny hand-held ones like King Kong and so on. Later, uncle Yoong bought a calculator with some clever puzzles on it. I was very captivated. My first computer game experience was brief and cursory at aunty Mee’s house —- it was on an Apple Mac with tiny green monitor trying to fly some helicopter.

Of course, there was also the many opportunities to “play” some of uncle Yoong’s records, and occasional chances to listen to those records of aunty Mee, aunty Yen and first aunty [温寶京].

When the aunties’ away the monkeys will play!
Then the horse will neigh and the tigers will prey!

That’s how it was intimately played out by us at 16 Phuah Hin Leong . . . . . . believe it or not!

Kind Regards,
=========
KHAI-WEI
=========

Though very enjoyable and eventful, each trip to Penang always ended in our sobbing and departing with acute sadness, unavoidably prompted by the most heart-wrenching crying of Khim’s late mother (陳瑾蘭) who sorrowfully delivered the same farewell speech and solid handshakes to Khim and me year after year, and also by our reluctant acceptance that we had to wait yet another year for the highly coveted reunion to eventuate. All in all, those holidays spent with our relatives in Penang not only constituted some of the happiest and most nostalgic times in our lives, but also provided us with an extended family life as a sharp relief from the humdrum of our nuclear family life back in Kuala Lumpur. During those years, both Khim and I had also corresponded quite frequently and devotedly with some of those relatives through writing letters, as conversing or catching up with them via making interstate phone calls was then prohibitively expensive and thus impractical. That house had continued to be the hub of numerous gatherings and reunions for my maternal relatives and cousins from 1957 to late 1990s or early 2000s. As shown below in the dynamic Google street view taken in December 2013, the house has since been converted as early as 2008 from a colonial link house into a guesthouse and cafe called Reflection Guest House, located just a stone’s throw away from George Town, the capital, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 2008 on the bases that it emerges out of multicultural trading forged from the mercantile and exchanges of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures and the British colonial power; that its multicultural heritage is expressed through the great variety of religious buildings of multiple faiths, ethnic quarters, languages, festivals, dances, costumes, art, music, food and daily living; and that it reflects a mixture of influences that created a unique architecture, culture and townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia, as exemplified by its exceptional range of shophouses and townhouses.

The street view of 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road (潘興隆路), taken in December 2013.

Top Photo Back Row: 黃福鎮 董炳南 熊美麗 温美京 鍾廷勤 温穆京
Front Row: 温菊京 温燕京 温寶京 温兆京 温墉京 温琴京 廖玉枝

Khim reunited with her siblings and their spouses at 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road, Penang (24 Dec 1988 and Oct 1993)

Bottom Photo Back Row: 温旭京 温墉京 熊美麗 温美京 温菊京 温穆京
Front Row: 温琴京 郭孟蘭 温寶京 廖玉枝

Khim reunited with her siblings and their spouses at 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road, Penang (24 Dec 1988 and Oct 1993)
The person standing behind Khim in the top photo is her late husband (鍾廷勤). The person in the framed wall photo that can be seen in both photos is Khim’s beloved mother (陳瑾蘭), who died at the age of 99 on 10 May 1992 but was still alive when the top photo was taken, although too frail to be photographed with the ensemble.
It is very intriguing indeed to observe that in both photos, those (six in top photo and four in bottom photo) who had passed away before 2020 were right next to each other, whether standing or sitting.

Viewing the two photos above and the other two below this paragraph and reading their respective captions, one can come to realize that the love and closeness between Khim and her mother had also been symbolically enacted and spatially encapsulated by their enlarged studio photos being hung on the opposite walls at the same height and illuminated by lamps of the same make, such that the two of them had been figuratively accompanying and watching each other face-to-face across the living room for about four decades, even though they had to live apart most of the time since the end of 1967. This photographic resonance had been mirrored by the filial deeds of Khim, who had successfully and consistently prevented the physical separation imposed by the circumstances in her life from diluting her ongoing expressions of love and devotion towards her mother in the form of annual visits, monthly monetary supports and regular mailed letters, even though the separation had indeed prevented Khim from physically caring for her mother. Whilst I had the chance, pleasure and honour to provide complete long-term full-time care in person for Khim in her old age, I had never failed to be deeply touched by Khim reminiscing about her mother, and by Khim intimating to me in tears that she could not be there to contribute in-home palliative care and to improve the quality of life for her own mother whose advanced frailty and senile dementia had robbed her mother of autonomy, dignity and happiness throughout the final years of her mother’s life from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

The photo on the left shows Khim standing next to her studio portrait at 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road, Penang (circa 1957 or later).
When Khim, her mother and siblings were living on Irvin Road (愛民路) from 1955 to 1957, her fourth brother (温墉京) and his friends jointly opened a photo studio called Jazz Photo Studio (爵士影室) at 11 Gladstone Road, Penang, where Khim and her sister (温燕京) had two or three photography sessions, one of which produced the photo on the right, which her fourth brother enlarged and hand-coloured, as colour photos were not yet readily available. He hung this enlarged photo of Khim and the one of Khim’s mother as seen in the preceding paired photos under the corresponding lamps of identical design on the opposite walls of the living room of the abovementioned rented house at 16 Phuah Hin Leong Road, Penang. The following is Khim’s account extracted from her long essay entitled “Family Stories (家庭故事)”.

在這個時期,墉哥和朋友合股在五盞登路開了一間照相館,名叫爵士照相館。 我和燕妹曾到照相館去拍過兩三次照片,其中我有一張拍得很好,墉哥把相片放大,塗上顏色,因為那時還沒有彩色相片。 墉哥把母親和我的放大相片,分別掛在潘興隆路家裡客廳的牆壁上。 當我移民到澳洲的時候,便把那張相片帶去澳洲。

Khim survived her beloved mother by 27 years, 3 months and 12 days, during which she had privately revealed to me many times and painfully cried over what she had firmly considered to be the indifference, negligence, maltreatment, rudeness or meanness of certain individuals towards her aging mother, no matter how uninformed, unaware or unspoken others might have been regarding those incidents. So decent and caring Khim had been towards her mother both in the latter’s life and death that Khim’s emotional revelation to me about one or more of those incidents involving unfavourable, unjustifiable or unbecoming behaviour towards her infirm and vulnerable mother would invariably immerse Khim in pangs of sorrow, as I myself also descended into low spirits as a result of empathizing with her and remembering my maternal grandmother. For 27 years, Khim’s memory of her departed mother was as alive as ever, both in good and bad times. Nearly 20 years after her mother’s passing, Khim was so prolific in recalling various stories concerning her mother that the former referred to the latter with the words 母親 (meaning mother in Chinese) more than 300 times in the 106-page, 51883-word magnum opus entitled “Family Stories (家庭故事)”, which Khim commenced in 2009 and largely completed in 2011. Near the end of Khim’s life, when she was in terminal decline and feeble condition, upon my request, she could still recite to me the Hakka nursery rhymes that she learnt from her mother in the former’s childhood, as the following video shows. The longest one is stylishly included herewith for posterity, in remembrance of both Khim and her mother. Khim can also be seen reciting the nursery rhymes in the video entitled Khai & Khim celebrating her 87th birthday.

月光光,秀才郎,騎白馬,過蓮塘,蓮塘背,種韭菜,韭菜花,結親家,親家門前一口塘,打個鯉嫲八尺長,長個拿來煮酒食,短個拿來討姑娘,討個姑娘高天天,煮個飯兒臭火煙,討個姑娘矮嘟嘟,煮個飯兒香卜卜。

Khim reciting Hakka nursery rhymes and Tang dynasty poems at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital emergency room where she was treated for a superficial head injury caused by a sudden fall, and was discharged in 10 hours (2 Jan 2019, 9:33 PM Wednesday)
Khim’s recitation would have been typically more fluent and accurate.

Khim’s humanity and virtue as expressed by her unremitting sense of love and sacrifice as well as her degree of filial piety and family devotion can also be amply demonstrated by the two inspirational idioms and one educational poem that she included with explanations in her following writing, which she specifically signed as a mother (母字, literally meaning “mother’s words”) on 12 Dec 2011. Though the writing was meant to be read by her child(ren), its moral values and relational implications are so universal, far-reaching and benevolent that they are broadly applicable to any human being who wishes or intends to live a principled and virtuous life.

        順便抄錄兩個成語:

(一) 飲水思源: 喝水的時候想到水的來源, 比喻人在幸福的時候不忘掉幸福的來源。

(二) 感恩圖報: 感激他人對自己所施的恩惠而設法報答。

我在裝剪報的紙袋裏, 找到一張複印的資料, 可作為座右銘。 座右銘的意思是寫出來放在坐位旁邊的格言。 格言是含有教育意義的成語。

幸福家庭

人生如夢亦如電        有緣千里來相逢
真誠關懷多付出        包容他人修自己
做有利對方之事        常送小禮增情趣
萬里長城今猶在        不見當年秦始皇
雖然理得還饒人        讓他十分又何妨
孝敬慈悲愛鄰里        家樂世和笑融融

母字 12-12-2011
Khim and Her Young Family on an Outing (Feb 1968)

Khim and Her Young Family on an Outing (Feb 1968)

Visiting the Singapore Chinese Garden 裕華園 (Dec 1976)

Visiting the Singapore Chinese Garden 裕華園 (Dec 1976)
Middle photo: 鍾廷勤 温琴京 温菊京 in the back row
黃祺勝 鍾凱維 黃祺敏 in the front row

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
Khim and Her Siblings in Middle Age (12 May 1992)

Khim and Her Siblings in Middle Age (12 May 1992)
From left to right: 温美京 温燕京 温菊京 温琴京 温寶京

In Malaya (the former name of Peninsular Malaysia before independence), Khim’s parents spawned ten children in equal proportion of gender between 1920 and 1936. In late 2019, all of her female siblings except Khim are still alive and reasonably healthy. Judging by the five sisters’ temperament and appearance, there has always been the consensus that Khim is the sweetest, gentlest, kindest and prettiest. Of the five, she was second in seniority. The eldest is eleven years older, soon to become a centenarian.

Khim as a Young Adult (1 Apr 1956)

Khim as a Young Adult (1 Apr 1956)

A cousin of mine once mentioned that Khim’s good looks were those of one in a million. From a very young age, Khim had always appeared to be a person of mixed race, sometimes looking more European than even a true Eurasian. So far, no one has been able to ascertain as to whether there was any trace of Caucasian on Khim’s maternal side of the family. The best account so far of the alleged infusion of foreign blood is that Khim’s six-year old maternal grandfather who migrated with his father from California to China had a tall stature and fair complexion, as recounted by Khim’s mother. However, there is still no one who knows with certainty whether Khim’s maternal grandfather was indeed Caucasian, Eurasian or Asian. Whilst pursuing family history and genetic profiling may shed light on Khim’s atypical looks, I have not yet entertained any detailed genealogical research nor deployed genetic tracing of her ancestry to resolve this mystery, though my having four locks of her hair could potentially provide some answers in the future through science.

Khim at 24 Looking Like Leslie Caron and Queen Elizabeth II (1955)

Khim at 24 Looking Like Leslie Caron and Queen Elizabeth II (1955).
The two photos represent the tokens of Khim’s premarital love for her future husband.
See Khim’s handwriting on the back of each photo below for an examination of the respective provenances of the photos.

Khim Wrote, Signed and Dated Photos of Her Looking Like Leslie Caron and Queen Elizabeth II (1955)

Khim Wrote, Signed and Dated Photos of Her Looking Like Leslie Caron and Queen Elizabeth II (1955)
When Khim, her mother and siblings were living on Irvin Road (愛民路) from 1955 to 1957, her fourth brother (温墉京) and his friends jointly opened a photo studio called Jazz Photo Studio (爵士影室) at 11 Gladstone Road, Penang, where Khim and her sister (温燕京) had two or three photography sessions, one of which produced the photo on the right bearing the studio’s stamp. Jazz Photo Studio was closed after being in business for just a few years.

The exact dates on which the two studio portraits were taken are unknown, even though Khim (琴京) had written and signed at the back of both photos, in what seems to be her best Chinese handwriting ever, and in exactly the same format, position and orientation, that each of the photos was (meant to be) a gift for 廷勤, to whom she would marry in about half a decade. It is both interesting and intriguing that Khim dated the left photo 一九五五,三,十八 (18 March 1955), which corresponded to her 24th birthday not long after they were both acquianted in that year, and the right photo 一九五六,十二,廿五 (25 December 1956), which corresponded to his 25th birthday. In any case, when Khim actually wrote on those photos, and whether she did so in succession or after an unknown interval, are impossible to determine with complete certainty, even though one may logically assume that Khim had indeed penned on each of the photos on the respective written date and then given each as a present to 廷勤, who had treasured and kept both photos for posterity. As the tokens of Khim’s premarital love for her future husband, the two photos had existed together in good condition for about 65 years, culminating in being scanned, presented and explained by Khai in this eulogy.

Simply put, since the photos were tokens of love and the dates corresponded to birthdays, the written dates are more likely to be indicating when the photos were given as gifts than when they were taken in the respective photo studios.

Khim Looking like Barbra Streisand with a Beehive Hairdo (1964)

Khim Looking like Barbra Streisand with a Beehive Hairdo (1964)

Khim’s Caucasian-like features might have even resulted in, or been related to, my having brown hair as a child until the age of five or six, my being called various names in high school, and my being the tallest amongst cousins and uncles. Strangely and remarkabky, this height was steadily achieved without any rapid growth spurt during puberty over six years, as evidenced by the fact that between the ages of 13 and 18, my body consistently grew taller by three centimetres and heavier by three kilograms, according to the measurements recorded in my high school progress report book. Khim and an aunt of mine joked at times that my mixed-race appearance was the result of my being born a jaundice baby and given blood transfusion from a Caucasian donor, and at other times that I was found abandoned in a bin and adopted by my parents. My biracial features are also collaborated by my cousin, Yee Fay Tham (譚藝霏), the second of the three daughters of Khim’s youngest sister (温美京), who recalled in her email dated Wednesday, 30 Jan 2008 at 8:14 PM and titled “More memory lane stuff” as follows.

Khai Wei, you looked like a Eurasian kid when you were little, like half white and half Chinese. You had big eyes, fair skin and lighter hair than the rest of us. I think that you had a blood transfusion (because of Rh incompatabilies) as a newborn and the joke was that you got “ang-moor” blood, thus your mixed-race good looks. You are our god-brother and I remember being jealous that I don’t have god-parents to spoil me – Ha! Ha! Ha!

In view of my looking like a Western child, Khim’s second elder brother (温旭京) was even questioned by his friends as to whether Khim had married a Caucasian, when interracial marriages were still quite rare if not considered taboo then. For many years right up to the present, I have been often deemed to be a person of mixed race or even as a Caucasian, especially in Chinatown and other suburbs heavily populated by Asians. On numerous occasions, when I walked into certain Chinese or Asian shops offering goods or services, some of the workers, merchants, retailers or salespersons there would be quite surprised if I were to speak in fluent Mandarin or Cantonese, for they had not anticipated that someone having such a degree of interracial or Caucasian features could have an excellent command of their mother tongue or Chinese dialect. Once, as I entered a shop selling antique reproductions and porcelain wares, the eldest Chinese guy who appeared to be the shop owner said to one of his shop assistants in Mandarin, “You go and deal with this white fellow in English.” On a fine day in the early 2010s, at the Abbey Medieval Festival in Caboolture, North Brisbane, I asked a few folks out of curiosity what they considered my racial or cultural origin to be, whereupon they mistook me to be a Jordanian, much to my surprise and amusement. Admittedly, their conclusion, largely based on my appearance (and perhaps my accent), could have also been influenced by the fact that I was wearing what seemed to be an ethnic hat with a very long and draping tassel attached to the top.

Khim and Her Young Family at Home and Out (Feb 1968)

Khim and Her Young Family at Home and Out (Feb 1968)

Khim and Her Young Family (Feb 1968)

Khim and Her Young Family (Feb 1968)

Khai and His Brother (Sep 1972)

Khai and His Brother (Sep 1972)

Khim and Her Young Family (Sep 1972)

Khim and Her Young Family (Sep 1972)

Khai & Khim (Sep 1972)

Khai & Khim (Sep 1972)

Khim and Her Young Family at Home (Sep 1972)

Khim and Her Young Family at Home (Sep 1972)

Needless to say, Khim’s seemingly interracial appearance had garnered many compliments as well as confusions over the years, and twice nearly cost her freedom, or potentially her very life. During the second world war, around the end of 1941 or the start of 1942, one of the occupying Japanese soldiers confronted and asked the then ten-year-old Khim who happened to be playing outdoors, “Chinese ka? English ka?”, whereupon her neighbour promptly replied to the soldier, “Chinese.” The same sort of interrogation later happened again when Khim was at the entrance of a Chinese pharmacy. Had the Japanese soldiers not believed Khim, she would have been sent to an internment camp as an enemy alien, her life thus taking a dramatic and tragic turn. Even when Khim was much younger than ten years old, at about four or five years of age, a particular adult, who was one of her father’s friends visiting her father’s small orchard to eat the ripened rambutans and take the surplus home for later consumption, would tease Khim for looking like a Westerner and call her a white girl (紅毛妹) whilst pinching her nose with his fingers, grabbing her head with both hands and lifting her up. After the uncomfortable experience, Khim would avoid encountering that person for fear of being teased by him again. She professed that had she known self-defence, the bully would deserve a good kick from her. A year or two later, when Khim lived on 70 Kinta Lane (根打冷巷) from 1937 onwards, the owner of the grocery store there called her the white kid (紅毛仔). No wonder the Japanese soldiers mistakenly recognized her as white in the early 1940s. It should be noted that Khim never possessed red hair even though the literal translation for the Chinese words 紅毛 is red hair, which is an umbrella term for a white person or a Caucasian. Coincidentally, the abovementioned rambutan, an edible fruit native to Malaysia, is called 紅毛丹 in Chinese, literally meaning red hair pellet.

Khim as a Child

Khim as a Child

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
Khim as the Swan🦢Princess in a School Fete Production of Swan Lake (1947)

Khim as the Swan🦢Princess in a School Fete Production of Swan Lake (1947)

Even more importantly, Khim’s looks was also the very key to her meeting her life partner. At the age of sixteen in 1947, she was the very student in her school chosen for the lead role to perform as the Swan🦢Princess in a drama similar to Tchaikovsky’s Ballet “Swan Lake”, to be a part of the fete to fund the school.

Swan Lake

Played and recorded in real-time on the organ by Khai as a tribute to Khim

Khim later repeated the same performance at Chung Ling High School (鍾靈中學) attended by my late father, who was standing guard as a member of the St John ambulance team of the school, where he first laid eyes on Khim. Their marriage took place 14 years later, during which no other suitors were ever successful in courting Khim and catching her heart.

Khim, the Swan🦢Princess in 1955, the year in which she was destined too meet and fall in love with her Prince🕺Charming.

Let us dive into more detail. After that performance, the Swan🦢Princess was not destined to truly meet and really know her Prince🕺Charming until they were brought together by serendipity at another chance encounter eight years into the future. On that fateful day prior to Khim’s birthday in 1955, Khim and her younger sister Yean Kin Woon (温燕京) were paying another regular visit to their eldest sister (温寶京). On their return trip, they boarded the bus and sat on the seat behind the bus steps. Khim saw by chance a young man sitting in front of the bus steps. Impressed by the attractive aspect of his hair, she uttered, “Look, that person’s hair is beautiful.” Her sister listened and then told Khim to speak quietly so as to prevent the other person from hearing her. Khim promptly kept quiet and said nothing else. Soon, when the bus arrived at the front of an Indian temple, the two sisters dismounted.

Not long after, on one fine day, a young man suddenly appeared at where Khim lived and told her that he would like to find her sister. Khim looked at him and thought that he seemed to be the person whom she saw on the bus that day. He then introduced himself as 鍾廷勤 to Khim and mentioned where he currently worked, thus setting their slow-burning romance and the rest of their lives in motion. Khim later learnt from him that there was also another fateful coincidence: when Khim’s abovementioned sister Yean Kin (燕京) was working as a temporary teacher in Ipoh, Perak, unbeknown to her, she filled the very teaching position that he had vacated earlier after teaching there for two years and deciding to seek a new line of work back in George Town, Penang.

Khim’s Prince Charming and Future Husband 鍾廷勤 (4 Oct 1957)

Khim’s Prince🕺Charming and Future Husband 鍾廷勤 (4 Oct 1957)
Given that the double photo is undated, the best estimate of the date at which it was taken is 4 Oct 1957 on the basis that Khai found it beside a photo negative of 鍾廷勤 with an identical hairstyle but casually dressed in a shirt whose long sleeves had been rolled up to just above his albows. The photo negative is of the same cropping and of the same size as each half of the paired photo, and has been kept in a small brown paper bag with a handwritten date of 4/10/57.
The mounting of two such similar photographs side by side may suggest that they were intended to achieve a three-dimensional effect when viewed through a stereoscopic viewer, if in fact they were taken from slightly different horizontal viewpoints. However, the relative misalignment of the two images would probably not be conducive to achieving this effect.

Since the introduction, it was to take six more years before the wedding bells rang. Regardless of the nature of those coincidences and chance meetings, Khim had since marvelled at my late father’s resourcefullness to locate her (and her sister) so that he could formally introduce himself to the Swan🦢Princess whom he first saw eight years earlier and still remembered. Moreover, there seemed to be the parallel contrast or ying-and-yang complementarity between my father and my mother in how they first viewed each other, insofar as he was silently impressed by her beauty whilst she danced with others on the stage in 1947, and she was volubly attracted by his head of hair whilst he sat by himself motionlessly on the bus in 1955.

Khim’s Wedding Day (2 April 1961 Sunday)

Khim’s Wedding Day (2 April 1961 Sunday)

On the whole, Khim had chosen her life partner wisely and patiently, turning down many suitors, including those who were far more affluent than her Prince🕺Charming ever was. In other words, Khim had purposely forgone the opportunity of finding a financially rich husband to support her, as she put moral character above material wealth, regardless of her partner’s apparent social status. To that end, Khim valued and evaluated her partner by a standard of virtue commensurate with her upbringing and worldview without compromising her social values. An overall view of the perennial goodheartedness, rectitude, integrity, altruism and stalwartness of Khim’s other significant half is readily provided by her 2010 written account of his life, entitled “鍾廷勤生前事蹟”.

Being outfitted and betrothed to her Prince🕺Charming in the formal wedding ceremony must have constituted one of Khim’s happiest and most treasured days, when she was about to embark on a married life with someone who had charmed her with loyalty and probity, as she finally joined a handsome groom with whom to share the joys of matrimony.

Khim’s Wedding Day (2 April 1961 Sunday)

Khim’s Wedding Day (2 April 1961 Sunday)

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April 1961 from Sow Chee Chan (陳壽志), the Husband of Khim’s sister Yean Kin Woon (温燕京).

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April 1961 from Sow Chee Chan (陳壽志), the Husband of Khim’s sister Yean Kin Woon (温燕京).
The card can be seen at both the start and the end of the following video entitled Khim’s Wedding Day.

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April 1961 (inside)

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April 1961 (inside) from Sow Chee Chan (陳壽志), the Husband of Khim’s sister Yean Kin Woon (温燕京).

Khim’s Wedding Day (2 April 1961) with Khai’s music “Vintage Dreaming” and “Where The Eagles Fly”

The wedding video was originally recorded with a movie camera by Khim’s husband’s high school classmate and our lifelong family friend 戴德懷, who, after conferring with Khai & Khim in the mid 2000s, took the old analogue film to some professional to be converted into DVD, 40 odd years after the marriage.

The renewed version available for viewing here has been carefully edited, upscaled and remastered by Khai from the low DVD resolution of 720 by 576 pixels and 25 frames per second to this high resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels and 30 frames per second. Khai also separated the video from its dubbed commercial pop songs and music that came with the DVD, and then synchronized the reconditioned video to the two original compositions as titled above to achieve the final result. After watching this wedding video, Dr Craig Eisemann informed Khai about movie cameras of the early 1960s in one of his comments below, which is quoted as follows:

Old photographs, and even more, old films are fascinating in that they can capture intimate details of scenes, people and events of decades past. This is especially so when the people depicted are loved ones shown at a pivotal moment of their lives.

Amateur movie cameras at the time of your parents’ wedding were quite simple devices, lacking sound-recording capability and usually powered by a wind-up clockwork motor. According to a relevant Wikipedia article, the film most commonly used at this time was 16mm wide, only half of this width being exposed at a time (“Standard 8” format). When half of the full length of a film had been exposed, it was removed from the camera and replaced so that the other half could be exposed. During processing of the exposed film, it was split into the two halves throughout its length and the ends joined, giving a strip of 8mm film of double the length of the original 16mm strip.

At the time this film was taken, home movie cameras were still relatively uncommon; only a small percentage of households would possess one, even in the more affluent countries.

Indeed, as the Swan🦢Princess, Khim had faithfully paired for life with her chosen partner who had also chosen her to be the one and only. They lived happily ever after in Malaysia and then Australia for 42 years, 7 months and 21 days, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April of 1961 (front)

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April of 1961 (front)
The card can be seen at both the start and the end of the preceding video entitled Khim’s Wedding Day. Hidden within the folded card are two concentric wheels for setting the desired day and month.

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April of 1961 (inside)

The original wedding greeting card for Khim dated 2nd April of 1961 (inside)

Originating from page 80 of her 106-page, 51883-word magnum opus entitled “Family Stories (家庭故事)”, the first extract below contains Khim’s own account of the significant matters and events related to her wedding.

女兒出嫁, 最高興的人應該是做母親的, 因為母親都是希望女兒能找到好歸宿, 一個如意郎君。 這回母親在六個月之內, 就嫁了三個女兒。 第一個是美妹, 接下來便是我。 我和廷勤認識了五六年, 他時常來我, 我們起初只是普通朋友, 大家也很談得來。 直到真正了解對方時, 便在一九六零年十月五日訂婚。 那天剛好是中秋節, 家裡的人準備了月餅和茶點一同慶祝。 在一九六一年四月二日, 我們在樹膠公會的禮堂舉行婚禮, 設茶會招待親友。 很幸運的是廷勤的好朋友戴德懷, 他用攝影機拍下我們結婚的影片, 後來我在澳洲把它改錄成 DVD。 雖然影片的顏色因日子久了, 而起了淺褐色的斑點, 但是還可以清楚的看到畫面, 這是珍貴的紀念品。 我們結婚之後, 到升旗山去度蜜月三天。

Originating from pages 16 and 17 of her 23-page, 12048-word autobiography entitled The Story of Khim-Kin Woon (温琴京故事), the second extract below contains Khim’s own account of her wedding preparations, wedding ceremony and honeymoon, many details of which correspond quite accurately to those in the video entitled Khim’s Wedding Day.

我們在一九六一年三月二十六日到婚姻註冊局去註冊結婚,廷勤請他的上司劉先生做男方結婚證人,我則請大哥做女方證人。 正式結婚日期訂在四月二日,在樹膠公會舉行婚禮。 在結婚之前,廷勤忙著訂做新房的傢俬,我們一起去購買被單,床單和枕頭等,我們的新房就設在廷勤租的房間。 美妹會駕車,她幫了我不少忙,例如到上海裁縫店去做旗袍,做結婚禮服。 我翻看新娘禮服款式的書本,都找不到一件合意的。 後來我看到一件人訂做好的禮服,裁縫老闆讓我試穿,我穿起來很合身,款式也很美麗大方。 老闆說,第一個穿這件禮服者收費四百元,我是第二個穿這件禮服,則收兩百元。 我覺得價錢很公道,也就同意了,同時他也會借婚紗給我。 我看到禮服樣本的圖畫,穿長袖禮服的人都沒有戴手套,所以我就免了。

穆哥結婚時,開例以自己和新娘的名義發請帖,所以我們也是以我們的名義發請帖。 結婚那天上午,朱新優校長來幫我化裝,劉時雨同學來幫我戴上婚紗。 新郎來接新娘的時候,由姪兒世昌開汽車的門,照規矩我們要給他一個紅包。 廷勤的朋友陪著他進到二廳坐下,接著我便由母親牽著我從樓上走下來,一同上車開到樹膠公會。 婚禮主婚人是鍾靈中學的任雨農老師,司儀是盧國忠同學,廷勤的大哥和我的大哥分別向來賓致詞。 我們切了蛋糕,燕妹,菊妹和美妹幫忙派蛋糕給來賓。 茶會完畢時,當我們從禮堂走出來的時候,大門前還有一批人等著下一輪的茶點招待會,有幾個婦女在一旁看我們,並且稱讚我們好像小生和花旦。 接著我們便去照相館拍照,伴郎和伴娘也陪著我們去,他們是賴光輝和陸鳳華,後來他也結婚成為夫婦。

拍了結婚照之後,我們到美新阿姨的家,由新娘給男家的父母親及叔叔,嬸嬸,表姑,堂兄等親戚敬茶。 然後我們才回到娘家,由新郎給親戚敬茶。 首先是給母親敬茶,接著是大哥大嫂,大姐大姐夫,二哥二嫂,墉哥,穆哥和五嫂。 最後是輪到我的三個妹妹:燕京,菊京和美京。 她們和廷勤握手,廷勤給她們每人一個紅包,然後她們向廷勤鞠躬行禮。 這時家裏充滿了快樂的氣氛,大家都很高興。 當我們要回新房的時候,大家都出來歡送。 我們回到新房,我下了裝,換上一件旗袍,準備去度蜜月。

廷勤的好朋友戴德懷是攝影師,他把從新郎來迎新娘開始,一直到我們乘車去度蜜月的過程,拍攝成電影。 過了四十多年,我把這無聲電影,請人錄製成DVD,配上音樂。 DVD的畫面還相當清楚,不過有些淺褐色的斑點,這可能是因為影片太舊的原故。 這DVD是結婚禮物之一,含有紀念性,要好好的珍藏。

升旗山上有一間小旅店,供人度假或度蜜月。 這座建築物是舊式的,設備很簡單。 旅店一天供應五餐,早上有早茶,然後是早餐,午餐,下午茶,晚餐等。 我們吃過早餐就出去走走,我們看到一種大螞蟻,身體約有一吋半長,在檳城其他的地方都沒有見過這種螞蟻,另外還看到一些是生長在升旗山上的植物。 我們在升旗山上度過三個愉快的日子,便乘纜車下山回家去了。

Khim was never a person who would willingly and overtly show her emotional vulnerability to the public even at her late husband’s deathbed and funeral. Nevertheless, Khim had trusted me long enough that she could drop all her guard and reveal her raw emotion and deep trauma to such an extent that I clearly remember how devastated Khim felt when she first became a widow. Mired by the sheer enormity and stark reality of no longer having her beloved one around, Khim finally lost all of her stoic resistance and slipped into deep melancholy and utter despondency, even verging on shock and amnesia, as I alone approached even closer to console her, who had then plopped herself down on the toilet seat as she collapsed emotionally in the en suite bathroom, visibly paralysed by the grievous loss of her life partner to a drawn-out illness. It took a while before Khim could be comfortably escorted by me to the living room.

In time, Khim recovered and gained the perspective of time and her place in the larger scheme of things. On the same day every year, Khim and I commemorated his passing in front of his large portrait photograph with offerings and speeches recounting some of the significant family events and histories. Fortunately, there had always been numerous photos with which Khim and I could reminisce about the old times. As Khim aged and increasingly found retrieving photo albums and flipping through their leaflets to be taxing and tiring, I had, over the course of about one and a half decades, carefully selected and decoratively framed dozens of the best photos, including the following, to hang on walls, place on bookshelves and exhibit in display cabinets, so that Khim could enjoy seeing those photos wherever she happened to be at home, even including the convenient luxury of her having the vantage point and comfort of sitting on the sofa and turning her head in various directions to browse around.

Khim at Her Husband’s Award Ceremony in Malaysia (3 Jun 1981)

Khim at Her Husband’s Award Ceremony in Malaysia (3 Jun 1981)

Khim and Her Husband Standing in Front of the Grandfather Clock at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband Standing in Front of the Grandfather Clock at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband in Uniform Sitting in Front of the Painted Folding Screen at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband in Uniform Sitting in Front of the Painted Folding Screen at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband Sitting in Front of the Painted Folding Screen (畫屏) at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband Sitting in Front of the Painted Folding Screen (畫屏) at Home (Jan 1984)

Khim and Her Husband at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (22 Sep 1990)

Khim and Her Husband at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (22 Sep 1990)

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
Khai & Khim in the Heart Health Clinic at the Royal Bribane and Women’s Hospital (11 Oct 2018, 12:40 PM Thursday)

Khai & Khim in the Heart Health Clinic at the Royal Bribane and Women’s Hospital (11 Oct 2018, 12:40 PM Thursday)

Setting aside the unfortunate fact that Khim was the second one in all of her siblings to be widowed (whilst noting here that the first being her eldest brother who lost his wife to heart disease on Christmas day in 1976), it is not commonly known that Khim differed from her sisters in one significant way that ultimately hastened her physical decline and compressed her twilight years. The endearing distinctness and positive attributes that Khim carried with her seemed to have come with a cost, for in the genetic lottery, nature can also create deficits, which in my mother, had manifested as having a weaker constitution compared to those of her female siblings. Whilst Khim had been blessed with being born with appealing interracial features, she did not seem to have inherited fitness-conferring cross-bred genes, considering that her health had not exhibited much evidence of benefiting from heterosis, hybrid vigour or outbreeding enhancement. This was collaborated by Khim’s own account of her fitness and physicality. For example, she was all along aware of her subpar condition, having intimated to me that she could never match her siblings in strength, speed and endurance, that she would always be the one to pant and run out of steam first. By extension, I wonder how much or what proportion of Khim’s gentle temperament and sweet nature can be correlated or attributed to her congenital delicacy, to the extent that she lacked the extra robustness and vitality to be more feisty and assertive in her temperament.

Khai & Khim in Her Tiffany Blue Dress outside the Chapel at the Wesley Hospital (25 Jul 2018, 11:26 AM Wednesday)

Khai & Khim in Her Tiffany Blue Dress outside the Chapel at the Wesley Hospital (25 Jul 2018, 11:26 AM Wednesday)

As Khim aged, those physical deficits began to affect her memory, intellect, mobility and quality of life, and eventually spawned comorbidities and complications, which she had borne with acceptance, if not insouciance. In spite of Khim being given the benefits of Tai Chi, acupuncture, regular exercises, physiotherapy, supplements, medications, hospitalizations, as well as all of the care, love and attention that I could muster, she slipped inexorably into frailty and senescence, against my hope for her recovery and her will to live.

Although many people had complimented the octogenarian Khim on her appearance, especially her overall beauty, wrinkle-free countenance, noticeably slim and curvy figure, and looking relatively young for her age, some folks had also noted her frailty as early as a decade before her passing. For instance, after taking Khim for a walk at a nearby parkland in July 2010, a family friend commented to me that Khim’s looks were those of someone in their 60s, but her gait was that of somebody in their 70s. Khim had had to contend with her declining ability to locomote unaided and the necessity of relying on a rollator, not to mention her increased risk and incidence of falling. In any case, Khim was very fortunate to have never suffered from any severe or long-term injury, even though she had lost her balance and hit the ground numerous times, often with little or no warning, even as careful and vigilant as both of us had tried to be. One of the falls resulted in Khim being admitted to the emergency department of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in the early evening of 2 Jan 2019, and then discharged just ten hours later in the early morning of the next day, since her head injury was only superficial even though it swelled to the size of a ping-pong ball but quickly subsided, as can be seen in the video entitled Khim Reciting Hakka Nursery Rhymes. It is no wonder that Khim herself was all too conscious of the fact that age had not been gracious enough to sit lightly on her during the final decade of her life.

In the last two or three years, Khim encountered greater challenges in grasping the logic and intricacies of the more nuanced conversations and storylines, whether in real life, TV shows or movies, and thus compensated by watching a larger portion of action films with simpler plots and relatively straightforward dialogues. The results from Khim taking diagnostic adjuncts and screening devices such as the Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale (RUDAS) and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or Folstein test had indicated a mild cognitive impairment in relation to registration (repeating named prompts), attention and calculation, recall, language, ability to follow simple commands, and orientation to time and place. According to Khim’s general physician and geriatrician, the cause of her cognitive difficulties and gait disturbance was cerebrovascular disease, the ultimate effects of which could have been just as debilitating as those of a neurodegenerative process like senile dementia, had she indeed survived to be (nearly) as old as her mother who lived one-eighth longer.

However, Khim could be considered to be much more fortunate than her mother with respect to quality of life, to the extent that I had been ensuring that Khim could continue to walk and move about as best as circumstances would allow her, whether physically assisted or not, even in the face of her (suffering from) incontinence, gait disturbance and pressure wounds. My researching, liaising and working with physiotherapists and occupational therapists regarding the physical welfare of Khim had built confidence and resilience through the processes of adjusting to, mediating and ameliorating deteriorations and deficits brought by senility. In particular, I sought to provide the means for Khim to locomote with different types of rollator depending on the occasion and whether she was indoors or outdoors. Moreover, whenever Khim was too feeble or not in the mood to walk with a rollator, I would sit Khim down in one that could double as a wheelchair so that I could still take her out and about on any day to enjoy times and places away from home.

The manner in which Khim went walkabout with me in a shopping centre can be observed in the video dated 14 Aug 2018, 9:15 AM Tuesday and named Khai & Khim at a Jewellery Shop, where she was strolling and browsing with a rollator, also called a four-wheel pusher. In another video named Khim wearing a hat made for Mother’s Day and dated 10 ‎May ‎2019, ‏‎10:28 AM Friday, Khim, not feeling strong enough to walk, was sitting on the same rollator with which I wheeled her inside the same shopping centre.

In contrast, Khim’s mother had been more or less homebound for the last twenty odd years of her life, as she could rely on just a walking stick to move around indoors and was never given a rollator or wheelchair to move about at home, let alone having recurrent opportunities to attend shopping centres, restaurants and the like. At the most, she had been taken for brief walks in the back alley of the house. It would seem that those who were around Khim’s mother in Malaysia had not figured out or thought of some reliable ways or practical means to facilitate the outings of an elderly person on a consistent and regular basis so that the person could still enjoy outdoor excursions or alfresco activities in their twilight years. It is also interesting to note that unlike Khim’s mother, Khim herself had never agreed or wanted to use any walking stick.

On balance, Khim and I had been able to make the best of what we could do and share in our daily lives together in spite of her (being beset with) subpar condition, which presented no less a series of gauntlets and hurdles that we had to endure and overcome in our daily routines.

Khai visiting Khim daily from morning till evening and gifting a gemstone necklace to her at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (7 Jun 2019, 1:24 PM Friday)

Khai visiting Khim daily from morning till evening and gifting a gemstone necklace to her at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (7 Jun 2019, 1:24 PM Friday)
Placed on the bed were Khai’s Panasonic CD player used for Khim’s music therapy and a white balloon functioning like a badminton shuttlecock to be hit back and forth with the palm by Khai & Khim in turn to encourage the latter to exercise.

Khai & Khim with Clinical Cardiologist and Associate Professor of Medicine, Dr David M Colquhoun at the Wesley Hospital (27 Nov 2009, 3:44 PM Friday)

Khai & Khim with Clinical Cardiologist and Associate Professor of Medicine, Dr David M Colquhoun at the Wesley Hospital (27 Nov 2009, 3:44 PM Friday)
Khim had been the longest attending patient of Dr David M Colquhoun for 31 years since 1989.

Khai & Khim outside the Florist’s Shop at the Wesley Hospital (13 Mar 2017, 12:11 PM Monday)

Khai & Khim outside the Florist’s Shop at the Wesley Hospital (13 Mar 2017, 12:11 PM Monday)

Khai & Khim with Dr Graciela Fanning at Indooroopilly Family Practice (Friday, 3 Aug 2018, 10:02 AM)

Khai & Khim with Dr Graciela Fanning at Indooroopilly Family Practice (3 Aug 2018, 10:02 AM Friday)

Khai & Khim with nurse Susan Huang at the Wound Management Clinic of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (6 Nov 2018, 12:11 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim with nurse Susan Huang at the Wound Management Clinic of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (6 Nov 2018, 12:11 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at the Wound Management Clinic of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (6 Nov 2018, 12:15 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at the Wound Management Clinic of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (6 Nov 2018, 12:15 PM Tuesday)

As the preceding eight photos show, Khim’s subpar condition had required Khai to chaperone her regularly for various physician office visits, clinical examinations, hospitalizations, prescription drugs, wound managements, physiotherapies and other medical interventions.

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

Khim teasing Khai (28 Sep 2013, 8:40 AM Saturday) with Khai’s music “Take A Stroll

In spite of Khim not measuring up in physical mobility, health and lifespan to those of her sisters, both Khai & Khim had consistently made the most of their times and situations together since immigrating to Australia, even more so since her becoming a widow, insofar as Khim, with Khai’s ongoing care, support, encouragement and participation, had well and truly remained the only one of all of the ten siblings to have bonded most deeply, completely and multifariously with her sole caregiver and final companion; to have been settled and then naturalized in a foreign country outside of Southeast Asia; to have learnt and continued playing a musical instrument as long as she was physically and mentally capable of doing so; to have experienced the widest range of music as well as the plethora of songs, shows and stars; to have documented her life and history through typing, writing, journaling and word processing; and to have been decked out in stylish dresses, bespoke hats and refined jewelleries on routine outings, even on the penultimate day of her life. One might indeed wonder how much more there could be told in the tale of Khai & Khim with respect to what they would have achieved and enjoyed in being together, if the latter had been fortunate enough to thrive in better health for another decade well into the 2020s.

Khai & Khim at a Jewellery Shop (30 Oct 2018, 11:02 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at a Jewellery Shop (30 Oct 2018, 11:02 PM Tuesday)

Only those who have had to deal with senescence and sarcopenia on a daily basis truly understand the extent to which what, how much and how often there is to endure when one’s life is marred by infirmity. As a close-knit duo, I and my late mother, known as Khai & Khim, managed to find sustenance and respite in our mutual love for each other, a love grown and adapted to our circumstances, a love forged and persisted in over a long period, in fact a period longer and in many ways closer than those of any other relationships in both of our lives, as evidenced by counting the actual number of days and hours that Khim and I had been together on Earth, and by the revelations offered in this eulogy.

Khim Dyeing Her Hair (20 ‎April ‎2014, ‏‎4:54 PM Sunday)

Khai & Khim with Panther (29 ‎May ‎2014, ‏‎10:20 AM Thursday)

Nearing the end of this special eulogy for Khim, we are now ready to ask what is essentially so noteworthy, conspicuous and memorable about Khim in the final stage of her journey through life. If we were to give more credence to Khim’s agency in fashioning what is nowadays an increasingly uncommon scenario of the son caring for his mother to the very end, then we must consider not only Khai’s filial piety as the fulcrum of this relationship, but also how and why Khim managed to touch and charm those who were kind enough to be perceptive and caring towards her.

Khai & Khim attending the Stay Standing Program at Jubilee Community Care (27 Apr 2018, 11:29 AM Friday)

Khai & Khim with the front and side views of her ornate hat at Communify Supper Club (14 Jun 2018, 6:32 PM Thursday)
Khim’s ornate hat was one of about twenty made by Khai, whereas her stylish top was gifted to her by her youngest sister Mee Kin Woon (温美京) about 40 years ago in Penang before Khim’s retirement from teaching. The dress was designed and made by Khim’s younger sister Yean Kin Woon (温燕京)’s husband Sow Chee Chan (陳壽志)’s second brother’s wife, a competent tailor. In general, Khim in her old age could still comfortably fit into dresses that she wore in her youth many decades ago.
Watch the video below for a closer view of Khim’s ornate hat and dress.

Khai filming a heavy-eyed Khim (wearing an ornate hat made for her by the former) whilst dining and being entertained by a violin and cello duo playing “Amazing Grace” and “Waltzing Matilda” at Communify Supper Club (14 Jun 2018, 6:34 PM Thursday)

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
Khim in 1988, the Year of World Expo 88

Khim in 1988, the Year of World Expo 88

The first year of Khim living in Australia was an eventful and momentous one, for she and her husband, after considerable planning and learning to adjust on the fly to their new lives, had successfully relocated themselves from Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of tropical Malaysia, to become new immigrants and permanent residents in Brisbane, the state capital of subtropical Queensland in Australia, the Land of Oz, at which my brother and I arrived separately several years earlier to study at Brisbane Grammar School. The city of Brisbane, already a magnet for interstate tourists sojourning in the “Sunshine State”, was then experiencing its “Coming of Age” on the global stage as a result of hosting World Expo 88, a 625-million-dollar fair that attracted about 100 pavilions from 52 governments (of which 36 were international) and 15.76 million visitors during a six-month period between Saturday, 30 April 1988 and Sunday, 30 October 1988, inclusive.

Aerial photograph of the World Expo 88 site

Aerial photograph of the World Expo 88 site

As the following photo shows, both Khai & Khim visited the fair, which was the largest event of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations, marking Captain Arthur Phillip’s arrival with the eleven ships of the First Fleet in Sydney Harbour in 1788, and the founding of the city of Sydney and the colony of New South Wales. 1988 is thus regarded as the official bicentenary year of the founding of Australia.

Khai & Khim with her husband and the mother of her future daughter-in-law being photographed in front of the Malaysian pavilion at World Expo 88 (10 Jul 1988, Sunday)

Khai & Khim with her husband and the mother of her future daughter-in-law being photographed in front of the Malaysian pavilion at World Expo 88 (10 Jul 1988, Sunday)

Before the end of the same year, Khai & Khim with her husband would attend another big event, as the photo below shows.

Khai & Khim at the wedding of her eldest son and daughter-in-law (17 Dec 1988, Saturday)

Khai & Khim at the wedding of her eldest son and daughter-in-law (17 Dec 1988, Saturday)

In the intervening years, my parents would host or help other families and friends who came over to settle or study in Brisbane. Khim’s descendants and social circles would gradually grow in size as she acquired grandchildren and associated with family friends and acquaintances whilst also maintaining contact with various relatives and friends overseas.

Khim on Her 75th Birthday with two sons, one daughter-in-law, three grandchildren and three family friends.

Khim (温琴京) on Her 75th Birthday in 2006 with two sons (鍾凱維 and 鍾凱元), one daughter-in-law (徐偉玲), three grandchildren (鍾宏靈, 鍾靈玲 and 鍾宏昇) and three family friends (Douglas Aboud, Angus Veitch and Shigeko Tye née Mori, whose husband 戴德懷 is the unseen photographer, and also the movie cameraman on Khim’s Wedding Day).
Note that the aforementioned members within each kind of relationship with Khim are listed from left to right as seen in the photo.

Contemplating her life as a whole, especially since her retirement from a 36-year teaching career, Khim can be regarded as an indispensable agent and dedicated facilitator scripting an immigrant success story, a story in which she had been more than just a sidekick to my late father in implementing the family transplantation commencing in the 1980s, prompted by the prospect of a better future for their progeny. Whilst my ever-helpful and civic-minded late father also took on various organizing and executive roles as well as volunteering activities in the Brisbane community for 16 years, Khim quietly settled into the roles of a housewife, a mother to her two sons, and later a mother-in-law and a grandmother to three grandchildren for twice the amount of time, 32 years in total. In other words, half of her time in Brisbane was spent as a widow.

Khim at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (22 Sep 1990)

Khim at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (22 Sep 1990)

After my helping Khim to complete her application for citizenship, she was pleased to become an Australian citizen on 26 August 2005, exactly nine years and seven months after I became one myself. On the day, I was Khim’s cameraman and family friend Douglas Aboud her driver. Khim took the final step in acquiring her citizenship by making a Pledge of commitment at the citizenship ceremony held by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs at West End Cafe, where she read out her Australian Citizenship Affirmation based on the Australian Citizenship Pledge, and then was given her Certificate of Australian Citizenship signed by John Kenneth Cobb, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.

Click any of the nine images below to reveal and comment on the enlarged photos displayed in a full-size carousel view.

Khim becoming an Australian citizen on Friday, 26 August 2005

Keeping in touch with an ever smaller circle of relatives and friends who were themselves aging, moving on or passing away, Khim would remain a widowed senior citizen in her newly adopted country for 14 years, about one sixth of her total lifespan, during which she would increasingly turn towards me for unswerving support and companionship, and during which she would be summoning up the best that still remained in her to achieve unprecedented outcomes and invaluable legacies, as this eulogy will continue to reveal. Khim and I would become inseparable in the final eight years, the last one eleventh of her life, as she continued to forge ahead with grace and dignity regardless of the degree of her dependency and indisposition.

Khim (3 days after her 79th birthday, 21 Mar 2010, 4:29 PM Sunday)

Khim (3 days after her 79th birthday, 21 Mar 2010, 4:29 PM Sunday)

Considering that all of her siblings have stayed and retired in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in Southeast Asia, it can be firmly concluded that Khim remained the one amongst her siblings who, whether by fate or design, ventured with her entire family the farthest from her country of origin and fashioned a brand-new life in a faraway foreign land. In hindsight, one can also come to a further conclusion that my having migrated to Australia as a late teenager has been a blessing. Had the timing been earlier, there would be fewer opportunities to experience and consolidate the culture of my birth beyond having an ethnicity that ties me to my birthplace and Khim’s cultural origin. Whether or not the future that would have been available to Khai & Khim in Australia could have been greater and brighter had we immigrated earlier, one can indeed take comfort in realizing that my transition to a completely new life in the capital city of the “Sunshine State” in the Land of Oz as a young adult rather than a child had substantially minimized the loss of my birth heritage, whilst being balanced by the gain of fresh opportunities that would have been unavailable to both Khai & Khim otherwise, had both of us immigrated much later or not at all. All in all, the timing of the immigration had ensured that both Khai & Khim were significantly compatible in their sociocultural profiles with respect to their common interests and the extent of their multilingualism and multiculturalism, all of which had been essential in providing varied ingredients and hybrid recipes for maintaining as well as flavouring their lifelong close relationship.

Khai & Khim at Shiki Oriental in the Food Court of Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (2 Oct 2018, 11:27 AM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at Shiki Oriental in the Food Court of Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (2 Oct 2018, 11:27 AM Tuesday)

One may also reasonably deduce in hindsight that our overall growth, prosperity and mental horizons would have been more circumscribed by tradition and curtailed by sociocultural diminishing returns, had we stayed rooted in our former home country. It would therefore stand to reason to conclude that Khim, and even more so I, had been given new, translocated potentialities for achieving a second “Coming of Age” resoundingly as we settled in Australia and revelled in cultural diversity afforded by multiculturalism, and also in knowledge diversity and unity as I pursued multidisciplinarity and consilience with enthusiasm and earnestness, plus the “Coming of Age” of the city of Brisbane through hosting World Expo 88. Hence, I would like to dedicate my following original musical composition to both Khim and I in the spirit of our “Coming of Age”, forged in the crucible of our transplanted lives, as we continued to treasure each other.

Coming of Age

疾風知勁草,昏日辨誠臣,勇夫安識義,智者必懷仁。
Only the strong and sincere can bear hardship and turmoil.
Only the wise, not the valiant, can know righteousness and cherish benevolence.
❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

Khim took lessons and learnt to play the piano at around 20 years old, roughly three years older than the age at which I first taught myself to read music and to make sense of music theory, and then learnt to play the electronic organ by teaching myself at first and later taking lessons. Initially, Khim had to contend with a very old and poor quality piano that her father bought her. After two or three months, he sold it and bought a new piano, presumably on account of Khim’s good progress. According to Khim’s verbal acounts to me and also extrapolating from the dates of major events that Khim mentioned in her 106-page magnum opus entitled “Family Stories (家庭故事)”, I calculated that Khim had merely four years to learn the piano before moving away in 1955 with her mother and siblings to escape from her then increasingly abusive father who had married a new wife, who subsequently gave birth to five children, her half siblings, many of whom were to be professional musicians, as they followed in the footsteps of Khim to learn music, later becoming experts on the piano, organ, violin and conducting respectively. It would be quite fair and conceivable to think, believe, surmise or imagine that Khim had started the chain of musical dominoes, to the extent that had Khim not shown as much interest or aptitude in music and the piano, her father would not have bought her the old piano let alone the new one, and thus her half siblings might not have had the opportunities to begin taking music lessons about two and a half years after Khim began hers, and therefore their musical careers could have been inconceivable or unachievable. In particular, Khim’s half brother Wen Kin Woon (温文京) has been a prolific performer, conductor and promoter of music and the most experienced symphony orchestra conductor in Malaysia, having received many awards, including the Australia’s Overseas Culture Award in 1979, the State Cultural Award for Music by the State Cultural Council of Penang in 1985, the Schubert Medal Award by the City of Vienna in 1986, and the Anugerah Karyawar Seni Musik (Best Director of Music) by the Malaysian Ministry of Culture, Art and Heritage in December 2006. In 1991, he was appointed advisor and conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. From 2010 to 2012, he was the music director and resident conductor of the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly known as the Penang State Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, founded in 1996). Recently, he was recognized by the Malaysia Book of Records as the “Oldest Violin Soloist in a Performance”, an award given for his solo violin performance on 21 October 2018 for his 80th birthday celebration at the Dewan Sri Pinang. Khim’s other half siblings play and/or teach piano, organ, violin, viola, cello and bassoon.

Khim as a Young Adult Learning Piano in Her Early 20s

Khim as a Young Adult Learning Piano in Her Early 20s

Though Khim would never have the means to buy and own an acoustic piano for the rest of her life, during those brief few years, she managed to practise playing to her own satisfaction some familiar light classical music such as Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska’s “The Maiden’s Prayer” and Albert Ketèlbey’s “In a Persian Market” as well as Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2. Khim must have had a wonderful time and a flair for learning and playing the piano, considering that she was able to progress rather quickly in spite of the fact that music is akin to language to the extent that adult beginners generally have a much harder time than their child counterparts in mastering the demands and technicalities of playing a musical instrument well or speaking a foreign language fluently, not to mention that Khim was already working full time as a school teacher six days a week.

The musical proclivity of Khim is similar to my own in that my learning to master the electronic organ took me only 20 months as a young adult to progress from a complete beginner to a qualified instructor after having learnt from four teachers and being assessed and passed on the teaching grade by a chief examiner flown in from Japan for the occassion. And like Khim, I have never owned an acoustic piano and have never been fortunate enough to learn to play the piano both early and long enough to master it to a professional level. Indeed, my one and only chance to start playing the piano and to take lessons, albeit at an even older age and shorter timespan than Khim did, occurred at a tertiary music institution owing to my not possessing a piano at home. This opportunity for my becoming a piano student for the first time in my life arose as I approached my late 20s, when I was accepted in 1993 into the bachelor degree programme majoring in composition at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, the first two years of which I boldly elected piano as a second study and plunged myself headlong into learning to play the piano music of Bach, Clementi, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin. Such a decision was a very tall order if not insane or foolhardy, considering that I had never hitherto received any private piano tuition, and that there was no acoustic or digital piano for me to practise at home. At the end of the first year, two Russian examiners oversaw my very first piano examination, during which I nervously played a polyphonic piece by Bach called “Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten” (BWV 691a, which is scored for the organ but was played by me on the piano without using the sustain pedal) and also Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in B minor, Op. 32, No. 10, which was the composer’s personal favourite among his preludes, and which can sound magnificent in a rare but decent arrangement for orchestra and piano. Days later, I was thoroughly relieved to receive a positive review and a score of 86 (out of 100) from the examiners.

It was unfortunate that I had never had the opportunity to perform the Rachmaninoff’s Prelude and other pieces by the abovementioned composers for Khim whilst I could still physically do so. By the time I procured a portable concert grand piano in the early or mid 2000s, too much time had elapsed for my muscle memory and motor skill to retain those pieces to a satisfactory standard beyond the two years of piano study. Moreover, as mentioned in the discussion about Khim’s musical journey with respect to the kind and style of music that appealed to Khim, she would have almost certainly found some of these pieces to be a little too avantgarde or advanced to afford high degrees of compatibility with her aesthetic sensibility and to achieve effortless rapports with her musical taste, had I indeed been able to perform them at home. Yet, Khim would have been able to accustom herself towards such pieces and other similar ones if I were able to acquire the portable piano much sooner and play them anytime with ease in the comfort of our home. However, this particular brand and model of portable piano known as Technics sx-P50 with exceptional fidelity to the sound and touch of a Steinway concert grand was only available on the market in 2001.

On the whole, Khim had been the first of all her relatives to forge a much closer tie with music by going beyond passively consuming music to actively learning to play the piano and two electronic organs; whereas I have been the first of all my relatives to connect deeply and intellectually with music by venturing beyond learning to play several musical instruments (the piano, synthesizers, electronic organ and keyboards) to formally studying music composition, theory and analysis. In hindsight, one can see much more clearly that both Khai & Khim had taken a big chance and bold initiative to embrace active music making with the same acoustic musical instrument, on which both of them lavished love and time in spite of the disadvantages of having an upbringing deprived of music education.

Accordingly, it had been both prophetic and fitting indeed that the first character of Khim’s two-character Chinese name is 琴, which is a collective term for certain musical instruments such as 鋼琴 (piano), 風琴 (organ), 電子琴 (electronic organ), 提琴 (violin), 豎琴 (harp), 口琴 (harmonica), 手風琴 (accordion), 洋琴 (dulcimer), 七弦琴 (lyre), 古琴 (Chinese seven-stringed zither), 胡琴 (any of a family of vertical bowed lutes used in Chinese music), and 月琴 (fretted plucked lute with a round wooden body, used in the traditional music of China, particularly Beijing opera, and in the traditional music of Taiwan). Furthermore, 琴 is pronounced the same as 勤, the second character of Khim’s husband’s two-character name. Given that 琴 and 勤 are homophonic characters (同音字), there is no wonder that Khim and her husband had occasionally signed certain letters, photos and gifts with just 琴 and 勤 respectively as a single-character token of their love and affinity for each other. Interestingly, 對牛彈琴 is a Chinese idiom with a literal meaning of “Play the lute to a cow”. It can be paraphrased as “Cast pearls before swine”, “Whistle jigs to a milestone”, “Choose the wrong audience”, “Preach to deaf ears”, “Talk to a brick wall”, “Talk over somebody’s head”, “Offer caviar to the general”, “Present a treat to an unappreciative audience” or the like. One could always be sure that playing nice music on the piano or lute to Khim would never tantamount to “Casting pearls before swine”. On the contrary, such a musical gesture or offering would very much amount to “Draping pearls before swan🦢”. All in all, one may definitely conclude that Khim had lived up to her name.

In any case, and in resonating with the defining character of Khim’s Chinese name, I have since gone on to compose plenty of compositions for the solo piano, one of which once demanded my staying continuously awake for 50 hours to finish composing, notating and printing it to be performed on 9 October 1997 at the New Music Collective Concert held in the Recital Hall of Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (formerly the Queensland Conservatorium of Music), where the audience as well as both my late parents witnessed for about two hours the showcasing of seven of my compositions ranging from solos and chamber music for acoustic instruments, to one featuring electroacoustic music, dance and real-time computer animation, and another featuring computer animation synchronised to electroacoustic soundscape.

This particular piece for solo piano completed under the longest sleep deprivation that I have ever experienced is the slow and pensive second movement named “Stream of Infinity” from my four-movement Piano Sonata No. 3 entitled “Romancing Infinity”. Available for listening below, the said movement is hereby dedicated by me to Khim for her attending its premiere at the New Music Collective Concert, and for commemorating Khim’s love of the piano, Khim’s fondness of Cornel Wilde playing the role of Frédéric Chopin in one of her favourite movies called A Song to Remember, and Khim’s appreciation of Richard Clayderman and Władziu Valentino Liberace, the two pianists whom she had remembered the most, and whose music had given her a good deal of joy via the very instrument of which she could have truly developed a delightful mastery, had she been exposed to it throughout her childhood.

Despite having the ear for music and the determination to entertain herself with music that she produced on a musical instrument of her choice, Khim was never to return to playing the piano even after I bought a portable concert grand piano with fully weighted keys and graded hammer action in the early or mid 2000s, mainly because after my encountering the Kawai electronic organ that Khim’s fourth elder brother (温墉京) bought for his two children (温世婷 and 温世政) to learn in the early 1980s, my own journey of music began in earnest and triggered a different chain of musical dominoes, or rather, a musical rollercoaster, taking Khim with me on a long and joyful ride making music together for almost the rest of her life, as explicated by the ensuing discussion.

To begin with, Khim’s liking for music was plain to see. Akin to Khim’s passing on to me her liking for the abovementioned movies and TV shows, her musical inclinations had also somehow infected me even though she did not have the means to afford buying musical instruments and paying for music lessons for her children during their childhoods and teen years. Regardless, I was later to be fortunate enough to complete tertiary music educations majoring in composition, music theory and analysis, apart from having other degrees and qualifications. Moreover, I was very honoured that Professor Stephen Emmerson, my favourite lecturer in music who supervised two of my theses, who performed my compositions at two or more concerts and one recording session (one of which is his 1998 rendition of The Last Rag), and who has been an inveterate movie connoisseur, surprised me with his attending Khim’s funeral. Delighted by his arrival, I ushered him to sit in the front row and reminded him that he was the one who gifted me the DVD of the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence with a two-disc set containing special features, and that the opening and closing music that I had chosen for the funeral ceremony was none other than the song entitled “For Always”, the theme song from the movie. To my amusement, he could not remember gifting me the DVD and had no recollection that the song originates from the movie. Admittedly, he visited and brought me the present many years ago, probably on a day in mid or late 2000s, as far as I can recall. He had also been so kind and engaging an academic mentor as to visit our home in late 1998 once or twice during the final phase of his supervising my second thesis that I completed at Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University before my second graduation ceremony later in the same year.

Khai & Khim with Dr Stephen Emmerson right after the Graduation Ceremony held at Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University (14 Dec 1996, Saturday)

Khai & Khim with Dr Stephen Emmerson right after the Graduation Ceremony held at Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University (14 Dec 1996, Saturday)

Once Khim had retired from teaching and even more so during her widowhood, our home began to be filled with more music and songs. Khim’s desire to perform music at home for her own pleasure was revived as she had not only more time for leisure after retirement but also more musical rapport from me, who already possessed a sizeable repertoire of pieces that she could learn, having amassed a large collection of sheet music and song books. For many years during her 50s, 60s and 70s, she was quite able to enjoy playing the electronic organ competently and contentedly under my tutelage and encouragement, beside her asking me to play her favourite pieces from time to time.

Khim Playing an Electronic Organ (Jan 1984)

Khim Playing an Electronic Organ (Jan 1984)

Khai & Khim with the Electronic Organ (25 Sep 1991)

Khai & Khim with the Electronic Organ (25 Sep 1991)

Khim’s favourite had always been playing some of the catchy music from Book 4 of “The Kawai Way: Method for Electronic Organ Techniques”, including “Love Me, Please Love Me”, “Soleado”, “Goodbye My Love”, “Moon River”, “Let Me Try Again”, “Papa Loves Mambo”, and “I Kiss Your Hand, Madame”. The latter, also known in German as “Ich küsse Ihre Hand, Madame”, which is the title track (sung by Ralph Erwin, text by Fritz Rotter) of a 1929 German drama film directed by Robert Land starring Harry Liedtke and Marlene Dietrich, was arranged and played by me in real-time on the electronic organ as a tribute to Khim as follows. Though Khim struggled to play the pieces printed in Book 4 well and never managed to fully master any of them, she liked having me around not just to share her music-making endeavours, but also to perform her favourite tunes for her on demand when she was tired of practising them. Regardless of the depth of my influence, Khim was the only one of all of the ten siblings to have actually learnt and spiritedly loved the art of music making to a level at which she could find enough satisfaction in committing herself to playing a musical instrument on a long-term basis.

I Kiss Your Hand, Madame

Played and recorded in real-time on the organ by Khai as a tribute to Khim

Considering that Khim and I were two persons who had shared the most amount of time with each other than with anyone else in playing and listening to music as well as watching TV and movies together, I would hereby like to dedicate one of my compositions to Khim, which can be savoured in the following two soundtracks. Composed in two parts, the composition comes across as introspective soundscapes, which musically depict and sonically symbolize our lives spent together during Khim’s twilight years. As the title suggests, The Sunset Lingers On is slow and lingering without a clear sense of rhythm or pulse to guide the listener, who is left with shifting colours of sounds and suspensions (or elongations) of tones, as well as the melodic sinuosity and subtle (ex)changes in instrumentation. Certain small sections of the composition also contain bitonality, being in two different keys, which soon dissolve into one, like the final coming together of Khai & Khim to be with one another, united by their love for each other during her sunset years.

The Sunset Lingers On can be savoured in full as the background music in the video entitled Khai & Khim celebrating her 87th birthday.

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

58 years after first learning to play the piano, Khim was about to embark on an even bigger learning curve, for when Khim was nearing 78 years old, I made a momentous decision to initiate her into the realm of preserving history through writing, typing, journaling and (the use of) word processing. As someone who had never been a serious writer beyond marking students’ homework and composing numerous letters to relatives and friends over many decades, and also as a complete beginner who never hitherto used any kind of computer, Khim boldly accepted the challenge of carving out a new territory this late in her life to cultivate what would be dauntingly regarded as complex skills and major undertakings by plenty of people from her generation. It took Khim several months of patience and practice to gradually master my list of the basic functions and most useful commands, which she eventually noted down as follows on a piece of A4 paper, which she always had around her for reference during any word processing session. I also made sure that my eldest nephew (鍾宏昇), Khim’s very last Chinese language student, would help her to save and backup her file(s) before she finished a typing session.

Khim’s Notetaking of Khai’s Instructions on Word Processing (2009)

Khim’s Notetaking of Khai’s Instructions on Word Processing (2009)

Inputing traditional Chinese characters in Microsoft Word is never as straighforward as typing alphabets on the keyboard to form English words. Initially, Khim practised writing a diary to become familiar with using Microsoft Word to type out Chinese characters. After drafting one or more diary entries on a piece of A4 paper, Khim would transfer the contents to Microsoft Word, where each Chinese character required a few specific keystrokes to form, based on a predefined input template. Using the phonetic-based input method called Bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ) or Zhuyin (注音), Khim would enter pronunciations by typing the keys with the corresponding phonetic symbols (注音符號), which were then converted into the relevant traditional Chinese characters (繁體字).

Phonetic Correspondence Table

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 ; , . / \ [ ] =
ˇ ˋ ˊ ˙

As one of the phonetic-based input methods for Chinese characters, Bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ) or Zhuyin (注音) is one of the few input methods that are available on most modern personal computers without the need to download and install any additional software. Unlike stroke-based input methods, any phonetic-based input method only requires the user to know how to speak Mandarin and be able to recognize the Chinese characters. Entering the pronounciations rather than the strokes spares the user from having to construct the characters from scratch as required in writing Chinese. Consequetly, the phonetic-based input method is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is an advantage insofar as users can type all the Chinese characters known to them by their phonetics or pronunciations. It is a disadvantage to the extent that it may cause language attrition and skill loss in adults since they no longer need to construct the characters, and that it may be a learning barrier for written Chinese in children.

Armed with the new word processing skill, the very first two diary entries were thus created by Khim on 19-20 Jan 2009, as shown below.

一月十九日 上午十一時三十分 星期一
在幾年前,我和親友之間在農曆新年的時候,都有互相寄賀年片。 那時,我先列出一張名單,温家和鍾家的親戚及朋友等,差不多有二十人。 我花一個早上的時間在卡片上寫名字,寫信封,然後用漿糊粘黏好,貼上郵票,這時我的肩膀累得酸痛了。 在三年前,我們就不再寄賀年片了,而改用電話來祝賀新年了,這樣就方便的多,而且可以聽到對方的聲音。

一月二十日 下午八時 星期二
前天收到世昌寄來的賀年片,真高興。 他每年都寄賀年片給我,真是難得。 我趁星期日有空,便打一個電話給他,祝他新年快樂,萬事如意。 他說他最近幾天到檳城去給諸叔叔及姑姑送禮,他很尊敬長輩,每年都送禮給親戚。 記得去年我回去檳誠時,剛好靠近農曆新年,所以也收到他給的禮物,即是三粒柚子及三包花生。 這些東西都是怡保著名的物產,我因為麻煩帶回澳洲,除了送一粒柚子和一包花生給金女同學,其餘的就給兄姐們吃了。

Khim worked on her Chinese diary until the end of April 2009. Beginning in the following month, in the good spirit of having more variety and getting her to write about her past events rather than just daily matters that she had been digesting into the diary form, I heartily recommended to Khim that she could start working on several autobiographical projects, which eventuated via Microsoft Word as follows.

English Title

Chinese Title

Pages & Word Count

Date Started

Happy New Year 新年快樂 4 & 1805 31 May 2009
Teaching at School 在校教書 40 & 18353 5 May 2009
Family Stories 家庭故事 106 & 51883 10 Mar 2011
The Story of Khim-Kin Woon 温琴京故事 23 & 12048 11 Aug 2011

Overall, Khim finally became competent enough to be a writer successfully capturing her stories for posterity. Meticulously recalling and typing out various events in her life chronologically across several autobiographical projects constituted one of Khim’s most significant achievements. Khim persisted in those projects for four years from 2009 to 2012, as long as she had played the piano in her youth. Undoubtedly, Khim’s monumental accomplishment as a writer can indeed be regarded as a crowning glory in its own right. So far, Khim remains the only one of all of the ten siblings to have documented her history through typing, writing, journaling and word processing.

To demonstrate one of those four autobiographical projects, the first two paragraphs of her autobiography entitled The Story of Khim-Kin Woon (温琴京故事) are shown below as a handwritten draft and the finalized excerpt.

The First Two Pagargraphs of the Draft of Khim’s Autobiography (Aug 2011)

The First Two Pagargraphs of the Draft of Khim’s Autobiography (Aug 2011)

我的名字是温琴京 WOON KHIM KIN,出生於一九三一年三月十八日。 我的父親温奈筠和母親陳瑾蘭是廣東梅縣松口人。 他們到南洋來之後,父親在泰國康月管理表叔的樹膠園。 我有五個哥哥:兆京 旭京 飛京 墉京 穆京,一個姐姐:寶京,我排行第七,下面還有三個妹妹:燕京 菊京 美京。 大哥在中國出世,五年之後,父親曾帶母親和大哥到檳城住了幾年,大姐和二哥就在檳城出世。 後來父親又帶一家人回去中國,兩三年之後,又帶了一家人到泰國康月去居住,其餘的子女都是在泰國康月出世的。

我們住的屋子很大,一共有五個房間。 屋子裏最後面的地方很大,右邊用來晾未乾透的膠片,燻乾的膠片疊好就囤在左邊。 家裏的廚房相當大,廚房外面是秤膠汁的地方,旁邊有一口大井,再過去就是製膠片的膠房。

I still feel immensely grateful and blessed that Khim had shared my deep sense of duty and perseverance in preserving history, even though other relatives had not exhibited such interest or desire to do the same through meticulous documentation, writing and journaling. In particular, just as I had been the only person initiating, organizing and facilitating Khim’s autobiographical projects from start to finish, Khim remained the only person who both appreciated and comprehended what my visions and missions had entailed over the several years during which I fervently and tirelessly built and designed a multipurpose clan website following the then recognized need for preserving not just our histories but also those of Khim’s siblings and their respective spouses and descendants, as well as their friends and associates by extension. Khim took considerable pains in fleshing out the detailed functions and features of the clan website plus a good summary of my approach to life and learning in her 3060-word essay dated 2 February 2014 and entitled 温琴京介紹網站之文, which she typed out as follows. Indeed, Khim and I were having something momentous in common insofar as we each had a major undertaking — hers in the form of autobiographical projects and mine the multifarious clan website equipped with content management, messaging system, encyclopedia, genealogy, recipe sharing, Internet radio, social media integration, discussion forums, news, games and other useful provisions and resources.

親愛的親戚朋友們:

大家好! 當你們見到我(温琴京)這編文章時就馬上知道我們之中一些人望穿秋水的氏族網站已達到能夠揭幕的階段。 我很高興能通過互聯網以及這新網站和大家聯絡,能夠有機會以這編文章對大家詳報事情,叙訴心聲,表達心意。 畢竟,大家知道我年纪不小。 我這個腦袋遠不如前,能夠學會用電腦打出中文,由我幼子鍾凱維和大孫鍾宏昇耐心地指點及幫助我,應該可以算是一件值得慶幸之事了。 如果未能因此變得比較聰明,至少也應當能防止老人痴呆症吧!

據我所知,我們的氏族網站能自動翻譯三十多種語文。 但是我這編文章似乎難倒了自動翻譯機的人工智能。 所以,此文章的英文版是由我幼子鍾凱維翻譯的。 文章提到他的部份若使他覺得不適或尷尬也麻煩他忍一忍了! 再坦白說,因為凱維的中文和英文水準都甚高於我,所以我這長編文章實在非托他修改和美化不可,無須硬性強求每一字一句皆原原本本地出於我拙筆之下。

我記得我已過世的丈夫(鍾廷勤)愛看書報,聽新聞,一向來對政治和歷史有興趣,對家譜,族系和百家姓也不例外,尤其是關於鍾氏的。 我不難想像,倘若他還在世,就當能助我一臂之力。 就算這不一定能將我在此打開場面的引言變得更引人入勝,我總是會希望能夠蕩然地在文字間沾上一些我已故丈夫往年曾經滄桑的機智和胆識。 不僅如此,當今能在這個網站發展和開幕場合深刻地體會凱維新時代的伶俐和銳氣亦大有收穫。 所謂老少打成一片,活到老學到老嘛!

在二零零七年底和二零零八年初的時候,陳榮倫,陳榮福,譚藝雯,鍾凱元,鍾凱維,董碧書,温世鳳,温世敬,温世婷,温世政,黃祺勝,黃祺敏等多位表兄弟姐妹在用電郵問長候短,慶節祝賀和溝通討論之中,明白必須重視和提倡及時保存及流傳大家寶貴的回憶,親情,電子郵件,書信,寫作,照片和家史等,以防止它們流散和消失於四海和歲月中。 這網站的名稱叫16PHL.net,因為他們表兄弟姐妹們自小跟隨父母住在馬來西亞的檳城,經常到潘興隆路的十六號 (16 Phuah Hin Leong Road) 婆婆(陳瑾蘭)和四舅(温墉京)的家一塊兒遊戲和聚餐,並且拜見來訪的舅父母及姑父母們,所以很懷念這個地方。 經過多方面考慮和試探之後,知道現成的網站除了規模,規格,形式,發展和定制的能力和潜在力都有限且不合用之外,還帶有網站行業中的一些風險和不可預測的成份。

既重要又可喜的是,由我們自己勝任可靠及詳悉我們諸家關係和情況的一位親人全心全力,誠心誠意和萬分投入地去搞好我們氏族這麼重大深遠的事,遠遠勝於依靠與我們毫無相干的第三者來處理我們那麼多人的事件和需要。 換句話說,在這網站的背後不是一個我們從不相識的人在應用大致上已經定型和現成的軟件方案來滿足我們的需要,而是一位出於我們背景,跟我們有來有往,能為我們適當地打好地基,策劃園圃,精心栽培氏族樹苗直到樹大根深和開花結果的自己人。

於是這叫16PHL.net的網站經過幾年多的孕育後就此漫長地孵化和誕生了。 網站裡包括文件,檔案,音樂,圖畫,影像,動畫面,資料,通訊,新聞,商業,廣告,職業,技術,娛樂,遊戲,教育,學習,研究,聯絡,論壇,地理標記和地圖查找等方面能分門別類的處理,存放,尋找和參考的多元工具和媒體。 除此之外,這個網站在人際,家係,族譜,歷史,文化,哲學和藝術方面也能有其深切,綜合,縱向和長遠的價值及作用,能雅俗共賞。

我們的照片,錄影帶,CD和DVD光碟,電腦,計算機硬盤等,日子久了會退色,受潮或損壞,或會遺失,被偷竊或燒毀。 但是如果存入網站裡就能變得永久和可靠,而且可供我們大家以及我們的親友和後代觀賞及參考。 除此之外,我們能用網站作為溝通和聯繫工具。 這也就能讓大家和各代親戚朋友上下大小溝通,親切來往。 全面和完整地說,這網站就是我們個人,家庭,團體和氏族的寶藏和遺產,能夠留給兒女子孫。

這個精心設計的網站內容豐富,題材包羅萬象,器材及資料不勝枚舉,適合男女老少,不限用戶的年齡,身份和社會背景。 除了你自己使用之外,你的配偶和兒女也可以使用,即是全家人都可以分享其成,受益良多。 你能公開地讓大家分享你輸入的各種信件,資料,音樂,圖畫和影像等,無論這些是出於你個人,家庭,親友,工作,技術或事業方面上的。 同時,你也可以選擇私下使用,別人就不能看到你的資料和檔案。

凱維集思廣益,知識豐富,而且慷慨就義,樂於助人,多年來一直做了許多善事,甚至多次無條件的每月贈送大筆金錢給朋友。 這個網站也再度是他長期助人,不辭勞苦和考慮周全的顯明見證,絕對不是一時之興,虎頭蛇尾。 凱維會經常對事情分析原因和結果,深懂來龍去脈。 大家也許已經看出他對各門學科深感興趣,並研究眾多學科之間的互動,潛力,影響,重要性,可持續性及可取之處。 他學過電機工程(主修計算機系統)。 在大學讀博士學位時,除了鑽研音樂學,文化研究和社會學,他也盡力去學習哲學,人類學,心理學,生態學,環境研究和環保。 有時教授向學生發問,上正課的學生答不出,而凱維卻能回答。 作為旁聽生,他也照樣呈交作業和參加活動; 這就說明他做事熱心,負責和認真的態度。 有一位朋友因為兒子有問題去找專家輔導,結果沒什麼改進。 後來她向凱維請教,於是凱維替她分析,叫她怎麼做,終於有效果。 凱維從前在大學當講師或導師時,很用心教導學生,批改作業和卷子也很認真,不像其他教授和導師那麼隨便,十來分鐘就改完一份作業或卷子。 凱維的教學法很好; 一些肯跟他多學的學生做作業所花的時間減少而且分數增加,所以那些學生都很敬佩他。 有的大學生在轉學時,還請他寫推薦書信。 凱維對他們說,他不是教授,故不適合替他們寫推薦書信。 但是有位要出國深造的大學生還是堅持要他寫了。 其中有一位成績最好的學生時常來找凱維學東西,當他修完音樂課程時,凱維鼓勵他再雙修社會學和環保學,也做過他的教師和導師。 這學生讀大學最後一年時到自然資源部和水源管理局實習。 因為他的言行受凱維的影響,表現特出,該局很注重他。 畢業之後,當局特地設立一個職位給他工作。

我也知道凱維很愛護和關心你們。 他自己的生活節儉好施之外,還具備優秀良好的言語,思想和行動示範,再加上他傾心盡力地把龐大的網站做好,所以其精神可嘉,可謂是我們大家的榮幸和福氣。 我從凱維那兒得知,也親身看到他在做網站時,得長期花出極多精神,時間和費用日夜編寫電腦程序,處理資料,構建網站和設計網頁。 此外,他還需要大量研究,參考,比較以及試驗多元性的事項,不單是在搜集資料,管理信息,思考和安排方面下工夫,而且必須持續細心地料理內容管理系統,用戶界面,數據存庫,編程代碼和大批軟件的處理,設計,操作,變化,取捨及改進等等。 此外,電腦日久會受損,壞了便得修理。 以後網站也繼續需要維修,管理,改進和擴充。 所以我非常同意每月交費的需要(這網站有自動電子支付的功能,所以很安全方便)。 何況所收的費用只是一個很小的數目,還遠遠不及工人,秘書等的低薪微酬。 再説,他從二零零八年初開始做網站至今已有幾年多,一直都在耗資費神。 再何況這網站與眾不同,用途廣泛,不但適合全家大小老幼使用,還能多樣化和更全面地銘記婆婆(陳瑾蘭)之恩和記載潘興隆路十六號之家史,以及記錄各家各代散居四地,成家創業的當代故事,無論事情大小,生活背景,地理環境和語言文化之差別。 更何況凱維為大家做有益的事情,可以說是一種極富有縱向思維的成果和深遠價值的貢獻,具體地帶給大家既能夠超越時空和代溝又能夠增廣家族意識的顯著中樞,讓我們的子孫有更多機會明白和更加容易參與或參考我們的過去,現在和將來。 我深望大家會責無旁貸,義不容辭地慷慨支持和大力獎勵凱維,務使大家能長久共享網站,團結親友,惠及各代,紀念祖先及表揚氏族光榮事蹟。

温琴京 Woon Khim-Kin

It turned out that our creations, namely Khim’s autobiographical projects and my multitudinous clan website as well as our unfettered commitments and motivations in these regards have remained as singular as our interracial appearances, for neither creations were emulated or patronized by other relatives, in spite of our leading with examples.

Though Khim had stopped typing text in late 2014, she continued writing several journals to record personal and family matters as well as to document her medical appointments and conditions.

In addition, I had also encouraged Khim to copy by hand a vernacular and illustrated version of the Chinese classic text Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons (了凡四訓), entitled Uncle Liao-Fan Telling Stories (了凡叔叔說故事). Almost on a daily basis, Khim began copying the 141-page text onto a 96-page exercise book from 11th April to 25th July of 2017, and then onto a hardcover journal that I bought her, entitled Finding Your Inner Goddess: A Journal of Self-Empowerment from 26th July 2017 to 17th April 2018. Two entries dated 19th and 20th of September 2017 are shown below.

Khim Copying a Portion of the Chinese Classic Text “Uncle Liao-Fan Telling Stories (了凡叔叔說故事)” onto a Journal of Self-Empowerment (19-20 Sep 2017)

Khim Copying a Portion of the Chinese Classic Text “Uncle Liao-Fan Telling Stories (了凡叔叔說故事)” onto a Journal of Self-Empowerment (19-20 Sep 2017)

The last four entries in the journal were copied from the text onto the journal on 22nd and 23rd of May 2018 when I brought the journal to her in the hospital where she was admitted for the whole of May, and later on 6th and 7th of August, barely two months after her discharge from the hospital. By then, it was clear to me that whilst writing continued to exercise Khim’s mind and her hand-eye coordination, she was very far from having the mood or energy to write everyday, as she found the task of copying text increasingly taxing due to her worsening health and frailty, which had begun to erode the beauty and neatness of her written words.

Three months later, I managed to encourage Khim to copy the Three Hundred Tang Poems (唐詩三百首), an anthology of poems from the Chinese Tang dynasty, onto a new and large 3D colouring book containing squares to guide her in writing those Chinese characters neatly. On an irregular basis between 3rd November and 19th December 2018, Khim was able to copy the first eight poems to her best ability. Though I was gratified by Khim’s spirit of tackling those poems, and was grateful that she could still write with reasonable legibility, it pained me a great deal to see that her speed and accuracy of copying were very much lower than what it used to be during her youth, and that the individual Chinese characters appeared to be significantly not as tidy and aesthetically pleasing as they did in the past. This deterioration was clearly visible in the fifth, sixth and seventh poems handwritten by Khim, as shown below.

Khim Copying the 5th, 6th and 7th of the “Three Hundred Tang Poems (唐詩三百首)” onto a 3D Colouring Book (Dec 2018)

Khim Copying the 5th, 6th and 7th of the “Three Hundred Tang Poems (唐詩三百首)” onto a 3D Colouring Book (Dec 2018)

Sadly, the ninth poem was the last entry in the colouring book, almost being copied in its entirety on the second day of the new year 2019, the day when Khim suddenly fell without warning near the entrance to her bedroom, hitting her head and then spending ten hours in the hospital. Even though Khim was declared by the medical examiners to have sustained no permanent injuries of any sort from the fall, she had somehow lost her will or willingness to copy any text or to write any more journal entries after the accident, thus signalling the very end of her prolific written words, the cessation of her memorable handwriting, and the termination of her disciplined penmanship.

I shall always cherish all that Khim had been able to express and reveal through her typing and writing. In hindsight, Khim seemed to have decided to lay down her pen and let her right hand rest in peace before its terminal decline could usher in illegibility, just as fatefully as she had departed from this world later in the year well before her mind could become a permanent captive of vascular dementia. Although Khim had effectively ceased to be a writer and book copier by the end of 2018, she never once had to miss being dressed up by me to go out and about looking her best, even right up to the penultimate day of her life.

Khai & Khim at the Christmas Luncheon in Suncorp Stadium (25 Dec 2018, 12:27 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at the Christmas Luncheon in Suncorp Stadium (25 Dec 2018, 12:27 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at the Suncorp Stadium (25 Dec 2018, 1:32 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at the Suncorp Stadium (25 Dec 2018, 1:32 PM Tuesday)

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
Khai & Khim at a Swarovski Shop (11 Sep 2015, 11:05 AM Friday)

Khai & Khim at a Swarovski Shop (11 Sep 2015, 11:05 AM Friday)

Khai & Khim celebrating her 87th birthday with Khai’s music “The Sunset Lingers On” (18 ‎Mar ‎2018, ‏‎2:55 PM Sunday)
Khim started to recite nursery rhymes around 5:38

  • “A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” — Cardinal Mermillod
  • “When you are looking at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” — Charley Benetto
  • “When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth.” — Mitch Albom
  • “A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.” — Princess Diana
  • “Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” — George Eliot
  • “We are born of love; love is our mother.” — Rumi
  • “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” — Abraham Lincoln
  • “Mother is her son’s first god. She must teach him the most important lesson of all – how to love.” — T F Hodge
  • “If love is as sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” — Stevie Wonder
White, Yellow, Red and Pink Roses to be put by the Attendees into Khim’s Coffin at the Funeral Ceremony (31 Aug 2019, 9:28 AM Saturday)

White, Yellow, Red and Pink Roses to be put by the Attendees into Khim’s Coffin at the Funeral Ceremony (31 Aug 2019, 9:28 AM Saturday)

In the final analysis, what was really there between Khai & Khim? Perhaps it is all too easy, glib, flippant or perfunctory to just call it love, albeit an abiding love between a son and a mother. After all, the word “love” has been so indiscriminately tossed around, unreservedly brandied about and much overused across various forms of relationship throughout the ages that “love” as a universal term of recognition and devotion can easily become an overloaded cliché or a trite declaration, even if it can be (regarded as) the ultimate concept for capturing or encapsulating all of the diverse nuances of human compassion and tenderness. Nevertheless, no significant love can occur without a significant relationship, insofar as relationships are always at the core of human interactions.

What any perceptive and decent-minded person may learn, realize or appreciate from the story of Khai & Khim is that the personal(ized) relations and quintessential values (whether moral, spiritual, emotional or otherwise) associated with and entailed in caring for each other or others, with kindness, compassion, tolerance and inclusiveness, have to transcend the often rigid, constraining or stereotyped sociocultural frameworks and (inter)generational dynamics engendered or imposed by both our biology and our society, to the extent that such relations and values are ultimately broad, underlying human connections that are integral to our loving one another with truly unbridled authenticity, dependability and faithfulness.

Khai & Khim at Cecilia's Home (3 Aug 2013, 1:29 PM Saturday)

Khai & Khim at Cecilia’s Home (3 Aug 2013, 1:29 PM Saturday)

In any case, Khai being Khim’s long-term carer and filial child had been a bittersweet experience and poignant journey, filled and defined by multiple roles and myriad duties. Through her hindsight and in her gleeful belief, Khim rationalized her saving me from becoming another case of infant mortality as a paramount life-changing event having karmic significance. Khim had been outwardly content, grateful and proud in both confessing and professing to Khai that she was able to rescue Khai just in time from death from jaundice in his babyhood, so that, decades later, Khai could in turn cushion her from the ravages and indignities of old age, as well as to save her from being overwhelmed by life-threatening falls and illnesses.

In that regard, Khai had become not only what was in her heart and mind the final object of love, her serendipitous saviour, her unwitting insurance policy for a better life against decrepitude, but also what was in reality her confidant, best friend, companion, mentor, teacher, poet, artist, musician, dance partner, preserver of her history and heirlooms, fashion designer, hair beautician, milliner, jewellery maker, antique collector, interior decorator, librarian, shopper, cleaner, gardener, cook, nutritionist, therapist, nurse, secretary, butler, personal assistant and the like. These multiple roles and myriad duties carried out by Khai have unfolded for fifteen years and nine months since the start of her widowhood, evolving, improving and being refined to such an extent that Khim could thoroughly enjoy living at home, within which she found her regal palace, her ultimate sanctuary, her wondrous paradise, and without which she could enjoy being active outside the home, being out and about and stylishly dressed.

Khai & Khim with Cecilia at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (3 July 2014, 10:29 AM Thursday)

Khai & Khim with Cecilia at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (3 July 2014, 10:29 AM Thursday)

Khim & Lucy at Jamaica Blue, Indooroopilly (7 May 2019, 10:21 AM Tuesday)

Khim & Lucy at Jamaica Blue, Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (7 May 2019, 10:21 AM Tuesday)
Khim was wearing a fancy hat made by Khai.

Khai & Khim with Lucy at Jamaica Blue, Indooroopilly (7 May 2019, 10:25 AM Tuesday) having muffins and hot chocolate.
Khim was wearing a fancy hat made by Khai.
“Ave Maria” was played and recorded by Khai on the electronic organ.

Khim wearing a bespoke hat made for her by Khai to celebrate Mother’s Day (10 ‎May ‎2019, ‏‎10:28 AM Friday)

Khim at Communify Concert Club (28 Jun 2019, 10:06 AM Friday)

Khim at Communify Concert Club (28 Jun 2019, 10:06 AM Friday)
Made by Khai for Khim, the dark-coloured, ornamental hat is somewhat Russian in style. Khim also wore the same dress at the citizenship ceremony held on 26 August 2005.

Khim at Communify Supper Club (9 Jun 2017, 5:31 PM Friday)

Khim at Communify Supper Club (9 Jun 2017, 5:31 PM Friday)

Khai & Khim at Communify Supper Club (9 Jun 2017, 5:33 PM Friday)

Khai & Khim at Communify Supper Club (9 Jun 2017, 5:33 PM Friday)

Khai & Khim at Communify Supper Club (10 Aug 2017, 5:49 PM Thursday)

Khai & Khim at Communify Supper Club (10 Aug 2017, 5:49 PM Thursday)

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ
A Flower Arrangement at Khim’s Funeral - For Always and Beyond Goodbye (31 Aug 2019, 9:27 AM Saturday)

A Flower Arrangement at Khim’s Funeral, chosen by SoundEagle🦅 to be themed in this eulogy as For Always and Beyond Goodbye
(31 Aug 2019, 9:27 AM Saturday)

  • “No matter your age, you always need your mom.” — Anonymous
  • “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” — Anonymous
  • “There has never been, nor will there ever be, anything quite so special as the love between the mother and a son.” — Anonymous
  • “A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.” — Irish Proverb
  • “A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.” — Honore de Balzac
  • “There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart.” — Washington Irving
  • “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” — Washington Irving
  • “Holding my Mother’s ashes in my hand. A thunder of pain smashes in my heart. The beauty of her smile, always allowed me to go the extra mile. As thoughts pile up in my mind, the sound of her voice brings comfort. Even though she is gone, she taught me how to be strong. I am thinking of the day you were taken. A Son’s memories shattered in silence. But your life is a beacon for my soul. Mother, dearest Mother, no other woman compares to you. You were strong in the darkest hour and you showed me the strength to achieve victory. So at this moment my victories and achievements belong to you.” — Mark Frank
A Casket Spray of Colourful Flowers on Khim’s Coffin at the Funeral Ceremony (31 Aug 2019, 9:28 AM Saturday)

A Casket Spray of Colourful Flowers on Khim’s Coffin at the Funeral Ceremony (31 Aug 2019, 9:28 AM Saturday)

A young blogger by the name of Clint Dunham who mourned the loss of his dear friend in early 2016, and who has so far not resumed blogging, concluded his last post entitled “Life, Death, and What’s Left Behind” and published within days of the passing, with the following existential reflections on the fragility of being mortal and the importance of valuing those around us.

Some say that the universe, or God, has a plan for us all and when someone passes it is their time. I don’t know if I personally believe that. I do think that the universe provides for us in certain ways, but I think life is a little more of a gamble than that. When trying to come up with a reason, or something that makes this fair, I don’t see one. But I have found my own way of dealing with this loss. This reason of course differs from person to person. Everyone is entitled to a reason that helps them through these difficult times. I believe that in the wake of something tragic, the law of equivalent exchange leaves room for something positive. It brings loved ones together. It puts life into perspective. It makes you value the life that you have more, or maybe even for the first time. It shows us how valuable and fragile life is and the impact we can make when we cease to exist. It brings more attention to the way we treat others in our daily the interactions. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and that includes life itself. As cliche as it sounds, you never really know when the last time you will see someone will be, so make sure you let the people you care about know you care about them, and learn to forgive. You never know if it’s your loved ones last day on this earth, or even your own.

If you are suffering from a loss in your life, I’m sorry. I hope this helps you in some way.

If we were to imagine Khim to be some kind of goddess, then we would consider it to be both notionally inspiring and fittingly endearing that Khim often called me “My Little White Rabbit (我的小白兔)” or “My Small Jade Bunny (我的小玉兔)” as her term of endearment, for according to the Chinese folklore connected to the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節), the mythological white rabbit is customarily portrayed as a constant companion of the moon goddess Chang’e (嫦娥), faithfully pounding the elixir of life for her.

Khai & Khim talking whilst browsing a display cabinet at home (1 Mar 2018, 5:28 PM Thursday)
37 seconds into the video, Khai asked Khim, “What do you call me, mammy?” She replied, “[I] call you Little White Rabbit (小白兔).”

To the extent that Khim’s fragility had increasingly signalled to me that our time together on Earth was becoming depleted, the ongoing experience of looking after Khim had contributed to my developing an improved understanding of the shared sense of empathy for the human condition as enacted within the relationship of a parent (care giver) and child (care receiver), whose interdependencies over the years had been both preserved by consanguinity on the one hand, and dramatically transformed by role reversals on the other, where(by) the care giver eventually became the care receiver, and vice versa.

Khim waiting for a taxi with Khai who dressed her stylishly (12 Jul 2019, 12:41 PM Friday)

In being with and caring for Khim, I had been routinely touched by her humanity, dignity and resilience, which had been at times severely tested by her frailty and melancholy, even as I attempted my best to assist Khim in ascending to the lofty realm of ageing gracefully and dignifyingly. Yet, there was always an underlying charm and understated cheer that came through Khim, often in the form of her loving and embracing me in ways that only she could, not just as a mother but also as someone who had understood me and appreciated us well enough in spite of our circumstances and generational differences, many of which we had endeavoured to overcome or transcend by virtue of mutual rapports, shared interests, creative pursuits and improvised merriments, in which we had not only forged a renewed closeness but also created worthwhile opportunities, memories and legacies.

Experiencing the vicissitudes of life notwithstanding, my being the sole carer and companion of Khim had ushered in an enduring reality in which I had to learn to face and bear the encroaching mortality of someone whom I had loved and cared for over a long period. Each extra day of having Khim around was not merely a precious bonus to be cherished but also a bittersweet dance with the ebbing away of life right before my very eyes. There were indeed inescapable moments when the taxing symptoms and mounting impacts of Khim’s debility cast a long and dreary shadow over our capacity to create or savour our joyful details of living and being together, which nevertheless had been bolstered by tender loving care and reinforced by joint proclivities such that love and affection could persevere. It was indeed the kind of love and affection that we both had confidently believed to persist and thrive in our togetherness through the years, even continuing beyond Khim’s time on Earth, being carried forward in time by my memories and her memoirs as well as this multimedia eulogy, which in itself is a labour of love, a product of devotion.

Perhaps one may liken the feeling or experience of accomplishing such an exercise as fashioning this eulogy with bespoke design to the exhilaration of a writer achieving something as significant as publishing a new book scrupulously produced to the utmost satisfaction, though in this case, there has also been the necessity to maintain both my composure and stamina to compose something as highly paramount and historical as this richly protracted oeuvre to commemorate the life of my late mother whom I adored. Both the biographical details gathered and the multipronged processes incurred in constructing this multifaceted, multimedia eulogy have been veritably fruitful and edificatory, although it is still premature or precipitous to determine how well and sufficiently cathartic they have been in mediating sorrow and alleviating lament, in conjunction with validating my lingering love for Khim holistically. In the spirit of this special eulogy, and in honouring the closeness of Khai & Khim, I hereby commemorate our times together with my musical compositions in the form of the following three soundtracks.

As far as I can ascertain throughout the decades of being with Khim, she had never suffered from any fear or anxiety towards death. Neither had she ever sought refuge, solace and comfort in religion, philosophy, new age belief, mysticism, superstition, hedonism, chemical ecstasy or utopian fantasy. In her own unassuming way, she had embraced and made peace with her mortality, not to mention her witnessing my very own and promptly rescuing me from early severe morbidity just days after her giving birth to me. So deep a bond we had been sharing ever since my becoming her final and sole companion that even Khim’s last intelligible words spoken to me before she slipped into a coma were meant to apprise me that she wanted to go home with me.

In the end, Khim quickly succumbed, met her quietus and relinquished the breath that gave her life as she became an exanimate entity, completing her brief but spectacular journey of being born and living a full, meaningful life on the pale blue dot known as Earth, still surrounded by the majesty and mystery of a vast universe that earthlings are only starting to understand via contemporary cosmology. Figuratively speaking, or rather, introspectively musing and tenderly reminiscing, the remnant afterglow of the universe within Khim has continued to illumine me as I recollect our good times together. It was a universe expanded by the timelessness of her being, governed by her virtuous laws of motion, populated by her muted delights and inner feelings, gravitated by her gentleness and contentment, where one could find the best of her temperament, the essence of her disposition, the grace of her beauty, and the embrace of her affection, maternal or otherwise.

•♪♫♪•.¸¸.•´¯`•..•.¸¸.•´¯`•.🌸.•´¯`•.¸¸.•..•.¸¸.•´¯`•♪♫♪•

As I reflect on the limit of physiology, the price of our mortality, the impermanence of our existence, and as my academic interests and multidisciplinary backgrounds both inform and compel me to face the outstanding flaws in human nature pitted against and causing the looming global ecological crisis, and as I mull over my abiding love for my late mother and hers for me, I am concluding this eulogy by bringing you to an imagined scenario very similar to that of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a 2001 science-fiction drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. Perhaps one day, some advanced form of humanoid, robot or extra-terrestrial can reconstruct our home from my memories and audio-visual archives, and recreate Khim through genetic material from her locks of hair that I keep, and through my memories and her memoirs that she meticulously typed out and wrote down. If it really turns out as the movie depicted that Khim can only live for one day, and the process cannot be repeated, then, knowing that I have done my utmost to resurrect our connection through a welcomed reunion, I shall spend my happiest day with Khim, and as she falls asleep in the evening, I shall be granted an eternal slumber and join her in the everlasting moment, forever, for always and beyond goodbye.

Khai & Khim at Home (1 July 2019, 3:20 PM Monday)

Khai & Khim at Home (1 July 2019, 3:20 PM Monday)

Khai & Khim at a Custom Framing Shop (2 July 2019, 12:08 PM Tuesday)

Khai & Khim at a Custom Framing Shop (2 July 2019, 12:08 PM Tuesday)

For Always

Beyond Goodbye

Here’s the lyrics from the film’s soundtrack.

I close my eyes
And there in the shadows I see your light
You come to me out of my dreams across the night
You take my hand…
Though you may be so many stars away
I know that our spirits, our souls, are one
We’ve circled the moon and we’ve touched the sun
So here…we’ll stay…

For always
Forever
Beyond here and onto eternity
For always…forever…
For us there’s no time and no space
No barrier love won’t erase
Wherever you go I still know in my heart you’ll be here with me

From this day on…
I’m certain that I’ll never be alone
I know what my heart must have always known…
That love has a power that’s all its own

And for always…forever…
Now we can fly
And for always…and always…
We will go on beyond goodbye

For always…forever…
Beyond here and onto eternity
For always…and ever…
You’ll be a part of me

And for always…forever…
A thousand tomorrows may cross the sky
And for always…and always…
We will go on beyond goodbye

❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

140 comments on “Khai & Khim: For Always and Beyond Goodbye ❀🌸🦢💮❀ೋღஜஇ💕ღೋ♡ࣰ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝☆⋆*ࣰ✻ණි❉˜҈”˜҈░░✲﴾۞ࣰ﴿ࣰ֍ࣰࣰමෙ

  1. Sad yet heartwarming tribute to your mom, Khai 💔
    Your mom was truly blessed to have a son like you! 😢🙏💜 Jackie@KWH

    Liked by 7 people

    • Hello, Ms Jackie Loewen! How nice and wonderful you are to be the first to greet SoundEagle🦅 here with your lovely comment! May you enjoy a lovely autumn and a happy September!

      Please be informed that this eulogy has been improved further in both style and content. You will also find additional video(s) and songs embedded in some of the comments below. In particular, chosen especially for you is a version of the abovementioned song For Always.

      Rose Greeting
      Yours sincerely,
      ܓSoundEagle🦅

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Khai 🙏
        It’s extremely rare to read something so lovingly detailed as this memoir of your dear mom’s life. Yours is a heartwarming story of deep devotion—very inspiring! Makes me wish I could’ve known her, too… God bless you, as you move forward into the next chapter of your life! 😍🎶💜 Jackie@KWH

        Liked by 1 person

  2. An inspiring woman, beautiful inside and out. What a wonderful tribute from a loving son. So sorry for your loss… 😭with deepest condolences. ❤️

    Liked by 7 people

  3. A moving and unforgettable tribute, beautifully illustrated, both visually and aurally, and also a record of mutual sacrifice and devotion over many years.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you very much, Dr Craig Eisemann for proofreading this eulogy, and for being there with SoundEagle🦅, whose friend, Patricia Walker sitting right beside you, noticed how sad you looked and felt, given that the occasion also reminded you of the passing of your beloved wife nearly three years ago. Stated on the condolence card from Patricia:

      Loved ones leave footprints in our hearts that last forever.
      Words of comfort alone, may never be enough to ease the pain you feel right now.

      May we be comforted more by not just words alone but also music. Let us savour this particular version of the song For Always, chosen by SoundEagle🦅 for you.

      Rose Greeting
      Yours sincerely,
      ܓSoundEagle🦅
      Patricia Walker, Dr Craig Eisemann and Prof. Stephen Emmerson at Khim’s Funeral (31 Aug 2019, 10:40 AM Saturday)

      Patricia Walker, Dr Craig Eisemann and Prof. Stephen Emmerson at Khim’s Funeral (31 Aug 2019, 10:40 AM Saturday)

      Liked by 1 person

      • SoundEagle, I am very grateful that you have recognized and responded to my experiences and feelings in the midst of your own grief. Thank you for your kind gesture.

        Liked by 3 people

      • You are very welcome! Thank you, Dr Craig Eisemann for being kind and caring towards Khim, and for constructing the mobility base for her new champagne-coloured K-Care deluxe bedside commode chair, on which she sat mainly for the daily routine of wound dressing, and occasionally for exercising. Barely having the chair for three weeks, Khim had not had the chance to use it for toileting. That very fortunate chair was not only made mobile by you but also spared being soiled by Khim.

        SoundEagle🦅 can indeed confirm that your name is printed next to the words “OFFICIATED BY” in the memorial book as well as “Name and religion of minister” in the death certificate.

        SoundEagle🦅 would greatly appreciate your suggesting what else to include in this eulogy other than the forthcoming transcript of your short speech given at the funeral ceremony.

        Rose Greeting
        Yours sincerely,
        ܓSoundEagle🦅

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hello SoundEagle
        I am only sorry that the chair base that I made was not ready much earlier so that it could have been of use to Khim for a long time.
        Being described as a minister of religion is certainly a first for me and must rank highly on any list of improbable occurrences.
        I really could not suggest any additional material for inclusion in the eulogy – you seem already to have exhausted all of the possibilities that I can think of.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Khai, Max and I are very saddened to read that you have lost you dear mother. She was a beautiful lady in every way. It was such an honour and a pleasure to have met and known her. Please accept our heartfelt condolences.
    Very best regards,
    Max and Barbara. ❤

    Sent from Samsung tablet.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. I am so sorry SE to see the passing of your mother, but you have written a wonderful eulogy summarizing her life. I have been to Malaysia several times myself, and I love the country and the people. She seems like she was a wonderful soul. Well your break may not have been rejuvenating in the traditional sense, but sometimes take time away from other responsibilities to invest in the care and love of those matters most is important. The feeling that we gave our all at the end for those who means so much to us, allows us to lift our heads up in hope for the future rather than remaining with eyes downcast in sorrow. Sometimes it feels when someone close to us passes that it is only then we realize how much of that person is really with us and it makes us feel reborn in a certain way, or makes the world look different. I hope there is some element of rebirth right now in the shadow of your sadness.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Appreciating Swarn Gill’s Thoughtful Comment

      Your words are indeed comforting to read at this trying time of pain and sorrow. In turn, SoundEagle🦅 has made a couple of comments on another blog to console the blogger whose mother has just passed away on the 28th of September. The first comment serves to commend the blogger on examining the nature of her ambivalence and guilt coupled with her anguish over the impending finality of her mother’s life, even as she is/was trying her best to reflect on, and come to terms with, her relationship with her mother both before and after the passing. The second comment resonates with her loss and sends her the following message with love and hugs:

      Loved ones leave footprints in our hearts that last forever.
      Words of comfort alone, may never be enough to ease the pain you feel right now.

      There is an old Chinese saying: 樹欲靜而風不止,子欲養而親不在。 It can be translated as “The tree wants to be calm but the wind does not stop; the son wants to serve his parents but they are absent.”

      SoundEagle🦅 has managed to find the time and inspiration to vastly improve and expand this eulogy with musical, visual and written additions to offer readers with even more comprehensive understanding of Khai & Khim, including more stories as well as photos taken in Malaysia (and Singapore), to which you had travelled several times. Apart from the YouTube videos, there are nine embedded SoundCloud tracks for visitors to savour SoundEagle🦅’s compositions and arrangements dedicated to Khim.

      Whilst this post has become rather formidable in length and scope, you are free to jump to any of the 15 sections of the eulogy instantly using the navigational Menu located at the top of the eulogy.

      SoundEagle🦅 will continue to cherish your previous comment and be grateful for the wisdom that it contains. Thank you, Swarn.

      Yours sincerely,Rose Greeting
      ܓSoundEagle🦅

      Liked by 3 people

      • HI SE. Thank you for the response. Don’t worry about your post getting too long. I am certain writing all of it out is part of the grieving process for you, so don’t worry about what anybody else thinks. And there is wisdom to be gained from any life story and so learning more about your mom can do no harm. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you, Swarn Gill for Your Advice

        Given the length and scope of the eulogy, it stands to reason that accessibility is fairly paramount. Hence, the number of navigational Menus has been increased from one to three, so that visitors can instantly access not just the 15 sections but also the audiovisual materials. May you enjoy using these new features!

        In addition, hopping innocently at 20 places of the eulogy is a cute little white rabbit whose significance is explained in the last section entitled “For Always & Beyond Goodbye”.

        Happy October to you, Swarn!

        Yours sincerely,Rose Greeting
        ܓSoundEagle🦅

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for inviting me back to read the lengthened version, dear SoundEagle…

    That song For Aways is so beautiful. And your mom is so cute in the videos! 😇🌈🤗🌹

    Also, “…Meticulously recalling and typing out various events in her life chronologically constituted one of Khim’s most significant achievements, in which she persisted for four years…” — wow. I sort of wish everyone would document their lives in diary form. Wonderful that she did that, and that you helped her. Hopefully her siblings might do the same! 💛✍️✨🌱🦋

    Liked by 4 people

    • Happy October to you, Nadine!

      Indeed! Both For Always (solo) and For Always (duet) are so wonderfully composed for the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Have you ever watched it?

      Please be informed that this eulogy has been dramatically revamped yet again. It is now a great deal longer as it contains 15 sections plus additional audiovisual materials, including SoundEagle🦅’s musical compositions and arrangements, all of which can be accessed via the three navigational Menus located at the top of the eulogy.

      It is very doubtful that any one of Khim’s siblings will ever document their lives in the form of diary or memoir, which is a long-term commitment and significant undertaking. Had the siblings been truly interested or motivated, they would have commenced writing many years ago, especially when both Khai & Khim spearheaded it all and let them sample many pages from the resulting oeuvres, a few of which can be seen in the vastly extended section entitled “Typing & Writing”, where how Khim typed and wrote is demonstrated.

      Thank you for viewing the videos and finding Khim to be cute. Also looking cute is a newly introduced little white rabbit hopping innocently at 20 places of the eulogy. The significance of this rabbit is explained in the much expanded last section entitled “For Always & Beyond Goodbye”.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady! She certainly did not look to be 88! Thank you for sharing some of her life, and yours, with us!

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Hi Khai,
    So sorry for your loss of your dear mum. Our mums are so special, they never stop worrying about us, no matter what age we are. And when they are gone, we notice a huge void in our lives and feel the absence of the love they bestowed on us! Your mum was a beautiful, kind and gentle soul. Take comfort in that you did everything possible to make her life a happy one. You were a good son. Best wishes and condolences. Lucy

    Liked by 5 people

    • Happy Mid-September to you, Lucy!

      Thank you for being in our lives, and for being our friends for nearly ten years, during which we managed to have some lovely outings. It was reassuring to see you at the funeral ceremony, and comforting to learn that you appreciated the eulogy, which has been significantly improved and extended with more texts, photos and music.

      Whilst the funeral had already taken place, it has been a significant challenge for Khai to adjust to life without Khim. She will continue to be missed by those of us who have known her well.

      As someone who had been a mother, and also loved and lost your mother, you definitely speak from first-hand experience. Therefore, your comment truly resonates with SoundEagle🦅, who would like to present you with a token of appreciation in the form of the following special photo, taken just slightly over four months ago. What did you think of the hat?

      Rose Greeting
      Yours sincerely,
      ܓSoundEagle🦅
      Khim & Lucy at Jamaica Blue, Indooroopilly (7 May 2019, 10:21 AM Tuesday)

      Khim & Lucy at Jamaica Blue, Indooroopilly (7 May 2019, 10:21 AM Tuesday)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. God be with you. Amazing Mom and equally loving and amazing son 🙏🙏

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, ashok, for your comment and compliment. May you find your life during October and this autumn enjoyable and fulfilling!

      Having savoured your post entitled “of Hope and Faith” just before replying to you, SoundEagle🦅 now feels more peaceful as a result of reading the “Musings of a Wanderer” such as you.

      You are cordially invited to revisit this eulogy as it has been dramatically improved in style, content and scope. Hopefully, you will discover with great delight that many of the new features are highly engaging and even surprising, not to mention the chance to listen to SoundEagle🦅’s compositions and arrangements dedicated to Khim.

      Looking forward to be enlightened by your feedback and suggestions!

      Rose GreetingYours sincerely,
      ܓSoundEagle🦅

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you so much Rose (?) You write so well and take so much pain to write in detail to all. I truly Appreciate that.
        Yes, I am traveling to North America, Specially for the fall colours. I haven’t been active on WP for a while now and hopefully shall come back to it after my travels.
        God be with you. Love and blessings. Ashok

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Khai,

    Yes, it is always painful when someone very close to us has to leave us, especially when it is our mother or father, When we believe in God and have much confidence in Him, as He is the giver of life, the Father of all creation, then our pain reduces to a certain limit as we know that He, as the Doer will take care of His child – and who is able to take better care than He. So then we can let go and wishing our beloved mother or father or child or friend a good journey Home in the care of God. I have lost my mother when I was 24 years old and my father when I was 35 years old – some day we will all be together again as drops (souls) in His vast Ocean of love, light and life.

    All the best, my dear friend and may you, your family and your mother be blessed.
    From heart to heart
    Didi

    Liked by 4 people

    • ❀ 🌸 🦢 💮 ❀

      Thank you, Didi, for reassuring SoundEagle🦅 with your heartfelt comment, rendered all the more relevant and resonant by your mentioning the loss of your parents. Did you write and publish a eulogy or two on your blog?

      Please be informed that there are now three navigational Menus located at the top of the eulogy. The first allows you to jump to any of the 15 sections of the eulogy instantly. The second helps you to jump to any one of SoundEagle🦅’s compositions and arrangements as well as chosen music dedicated to Khim. The third lets you jump to any one of the videos featuring Khai & Khim.

      Moreover, this story of Khai & Khim has been significantly enhanced and elaborated in various ways. In addition, may you be delighted by the newly introduced little white rabbit hopping innocently at 20 places of this eulogy. The significance of this rabbit is explained in the much expanded last section entitled “For Always & Beyond Goodbye”.

      Yours sincerely,Rose Greeting
      ܓSoundEagle🦅

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, dear Sound Eagle – at the moment I do not have much time to care about my blog as I prepare myself to go to India quite soon. Anyway, thank you, dear friend for you information given.
        All the best and have a great day
        Didi

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Your recent musical, visual and written additions to this eulogy have deepened and extended the picture of your mother’s life and character that you present here. It is a wonderful tribute and a memorable experience for the reader.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you very much, Dr Craig Eisemann, for your third short and sweet comment. Perhaps a forthcoming ((much) longer) fourth comment from you is timely, given that since your previous comment was submitted, there have been brand new features being applied for the first time to this post (or for that matter, any post on this website). These features are by no means just eye candies.

      It is indeed a great pity and oversight that SoundEagle🦅 did not think of photographing and videoing Khai & Khim plus you and your late wife together. If there were a time machine, SoundEagle🦅 would have used it to return to the few occasions when all four of us were together and whispered to myself to pick up the camera.

      Looking forward to seeing you as the spring weather becomes warm enough for you to take cold shower, thereby further reducing your ecological footprint!

      Rose Greeting
      Yours sincerely,
      ܓSoundEagle🦅

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Soundeagle
        The additional photographs and text that you have included give the reader more information about your mother’s character, interests and life experiences, and are a valuable enhancement of this already long and elaborate post.
        It would have been good to have the potential photographs and videos that you mentioned, especially of Khim and Quee Geok together, since thay seemed to harmonise very well. Unfortunately, there are not many photographs even of Quee Geok and me together, except for those that were taken at the time of our wedding.
        I hope to vist you in Brisbane before long, but I think that cold showers would be a little hard to endure, except perhaps during heat waves!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. An amazing tribute; came here via the connection at WEIT and am very impressed.

    Liked by 6 people

  13. Thank you for this moving tribute, dear SoundEagle.

    It reminds me of the last year of my own mother.

    When we together went through her old books. And looked out of the window; where, fortunately, we saw birds most of the time.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Khim seemed like a lovely lady who loved and lived life to the fullest. She will be greatly missed by her family who loved her dearly. She played a big role in shaping their lives.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. This is a lovely biography and eulogy.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I’m sorry that you believe my comment is “terse”. I simply do not feel the need to expand upon the eloquence of someone’s personal reminisces of a loved one. It is easy for recipients to misconstrue comments. It is best to keep such comments on personal subjects simple.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Stated in the first paragraph of the previous comment by SoundEagle🦅 is something very obvious about your first comment here in relation or comparison to your other comments elsewhere on this blog, regardless of the reason or rationale behind the brevity of your said comment, and irrespective of the nature and purpose of this post, which happens to be a eulogy (cum biography).

      In any case, there are as many ways to comment on or respond to a eulogy (or for that matter, any kind of post) as there are commenters. For instance, SoundEagle🦅 has made a couple of comments on another blog to console the blogger whose mother has recently passed away on the 28th of September. The first comment serves to commend the blogger on examining the nature of her ambivalence and guilt coupled with her anguish over the impending finality of her mother’s life, even as she is/was trying her best to reflect on, and come to terms with, her relationship with her mother both before and after the passing. The second comment resonates with her loss and sends her the following message with love and hugs:

      Loved ones leave footprints in our hearts that last forever.
      Words of comfort alone, may never be enough to ease the pain you feel right now.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Dear Khai,
    Thank you for inviting me to read your moving tribute to your mother. Being a teacher is one of the highest professions, because teachers have the opportunity to shape character, and steer kids toward a good life. I am in part the person I am because of the influence of a few of my teachers, and I am sure your mother did a lot more good in her work than if she’d had some high-paid occupation.
    This eulogy says many good things about her, but even more about you. Thank you for sharing our planet.
    You know, death is more like waking up than going to sleep. It is not the end of a book, but the end of a chapter.

    She will return.
    Having lived the joys and agonies,
    ecstasies and sorrows of this life —
    to do better the next time around.

    Will her passing make you a better person,
    as her presence did, by your side?
    Her school is in recess for now,
    for she has passed, though our examination is still to come.

    She will return.

    The memory will never fade, but the pain will ease.

    Liked by 5 people

    • ❀ 🌸🦢💮 ❀

      Dear Dr Bob Rich,

      Thank you for your visit and your acknowledgement of Khim’s former profession as a school teacher working six days a week for 36 years. That you notice the value of education is a solid indication of your wisdom, solicitude and thoughtfulness. SoundEagle🦅 particularly likes your insightful and fitting stanza as follows:

      Will her passing make you a better person,
      as her presence did, by your side?
      Her school is in recess for now,
      for she has passed, though our examination is still to come.

      To answer your question, SoundEagle🦅 would definitely like to preserve and be worthy of Khim’s benevolent legacies whilst remembering and learning from her deeds and examples, which have been meticulously documented by this very multifaceted multimedia eulogy for posterity and edification.

      Considering the quality of your comment here, the writings on your blog, and the person whom you have been, it is certain that had you known Khai & Khim personally, you would have been invited as an esteemed friend to deliver a memorable and edifying speech at the funeral ceremony. In any case, SoundEagle🦅 is very grateful that your input and insights have imparted additional depth to this eulogy, to the extent that our humanity and empathy for each other stem from our having experienced sufferings in our lives. Even though humans often disagree with one another on many issues, they can nevertheless relate to and even be united by each other’s pain through understanding, compassion and even transcendence.

      Given that you have both appreciated and created stories in the genre of science fiction, have you ever watched the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence mentioned in this eulogy?

      Please be informed that SoundEagle🦅 has recently included about twenty additional photos and two videos plus extra texts, all of which you are very welcome to see.

      Wishing you a lovely week ahead and looking forward to your reply!

      Yours sincerely,
      Rose GreetingܓSoundEagle🦅

      Liked by 3 people

  18. A beautiful tribute! You wrote it quite well! Your mom was beautiful 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Greetings to A Lady of Reason!

      How do you do? SoundEagle🦅 is delighted that you, as a rare visitor, have taken the time to peruse and commented on this eulogy. Thank you.

      Beside the fact that you consider both the tribute and Khim to be “beautiful”, let us hope that this eulogy has also provided you with a good appreciation of Khim’s life and achievements.

      SoundEagle🦅 would like to invite you to see the latest enhancements installed for this multimedia eulogy, whose organizational structures and advanced stylings will hopefully function even better in guiding you through the multipronged contents arrayed in this special tribute to Khim.

      May you find this autumn and the rest of 2019 very much to your liking and highly conducive to your being, thinking and reasoning!

      By the way, have you ever watched the film