Friday, January 11, 2008

Grandpa Wong: The Story of Their Lives

I really wish I can tell lots of stories about Grandpa Wong and Grandma. Being the Kuching grandchildren, my siblings and I really did not spend too much time with the Gramps. Especially in those years when we were overseas furthering our studies. Also Grandpa has always been Grandpa, our dear Kung Kung, so we never tried to find out.

When I was little, he was the greying yet robust grandpa, never in a day sick. He was booming loud yet loving to his grandchildren. Thus, he is a Kung Kung that we were never scared of. In fact everyone enjoys going to Kung Kung and Ma Ma. All those Sibu holidays we spend at Gramps' were wonderful. Nice sweet pictures so clearly etched in our memories.

This time we see each other, there was a sad moment when it was registered that Grandpa has really aged. But he is still Grandpa, eagerly welcoming all his offsprings and wanting to absorb in each one of us.

I remember the last birthday celebration for him. It must have been so many years ago. We were all still little chipmunks. Some of us were not even born yet. We all pooled in our little pocket money to get Kung Kung a birthday present and a card. We managed a belt. And he sat there with all of us surrounding him listening to him reading out our names in Foochow.

This trip had us gathering more information about Kung Kung and Ma Ma. Sibu people called them Ting Chiong Pa and Ting Chiong Mu. Ting Chiong Pa came to Sibu at the age of 6 from the Fujian Province of China with his mother and brother. Life back home had been hard with his father passing away. But a widow with two children in no man's land at that point in time was nothing less than immense hardship. Grandpa had to start rubber tapping work at young age.

He met Grandma and as he sheepishly tells us, he would try to tap her share of the rubber for her. Grandma must be one hot young lady at that point in time. And when Japanese invaded, Great Grandma was worried for her safety and thus, when Grandpa proposed, they were married almost the next day without any fuss. She was only 16. Life continued to be hard but Grandpa with sheer foochow guts and perseverance worked hard to bring meals to the tables and building a nice little house for the family. He worked different jobs and continued to work and ride his motorcycle till he was 70 plus.

Grandpa at one stage took up jobs as rubbich contractor and traders for forest produce. Thus he has many many many Ibans friends. He always insisted you dont cheat Ibans or anyone else for that matter. "You promised them something, you delivered". He was the man on high integrity and adhered to strict rules of honesty. In the days as rubbish contractor, when we were at Gramps, I always distinctly hear his motorcycle enjine starting at wee hours in the morning as early as 2 -3 am when he started work. He could have left it to his workers but he just had to supervise their work. Sometimes picking up rubbish dropped onto the ground. When he retired, he was still employed as construction site supervisor because of his honesty. He would returned every cents entrusted to him if there were any leftovers.

From what we gathered, he was a strict dad too. Together they had 9 children ~ one boy and 8 girls. All of them beautiful and attractive. Stories goes that every chinese new year would have potential suitors lining up the staircase at Grandpa. The offsprings then produced 22 grandchildren (excluding the 4 grandchildren in law) and 4 great grand children. That's some achievements!

It is true that wealth is measured by financial assets. Grandpa Wong may not have a lot of this. But no one can deny that wealth also comes in the forms of strong family ties, health, friends whom you respect and trust and respect and trust you. If we take these as the measurements, Grandpa is a truly wealthy man. Long live Grandpa and Grandma! Happy Birthday and Happy 64th Wedding Anniversary!

3 comments:

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

Wow! a very special man. he surely is blessed.

sarawakiana said...

Dear Greg,

How much is one's love measured? Your story is indeed touching. Can I add your grandfather's story to my rubber tapper stories collection?

How wonderful to have a grandson like you.

Your grandfather is truly an honest, humble foochow man of the highest integrity.

Very rare.

Greg Wee said...

Oh hi Sarawakiana,
Actually this entry was written by Nee. She's actually the granddaughter & I'm the grandson-in-law. Yes, please add this to your collection. Collective memory is important.

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