life is who you love
Alix never met my father but she has been asking questions about 'gong gong'. Remembering brings on a kind of ache - it always gets more intense around his birthday in July.
The most poignant birthday we celebrated was his last one. He was in the advanced stage of cancer and he couldn't eat but he insisted that we order in pizzas so that all of us could enjoy. We had pan pizzas in his bedroom and all I remember was looking at my father, choking inside at how frail he looked, choking at the little corner of pizza in my mouth. Choking in disbelief that all this was happening.
The Garden of Remembrance is somewhere in Lim Chu Kang; in that big maze of green land on the north west corner of Singapore which I am unfamiliar with. Gary offered to drive us there. I couldn't find my way there by myself. We packed in Shane, Alix and Grace and set off, sunglasses on our noses. It would be a long drive in the blazing hot sun.
By the time we got there, it was almost noon - the hottest time of the day, but inside the Garden, it was remarkably cool and a gentle breeze greeted us as we started searching for my father's niche. Gary found him first, along a bank of shelves. A little nook with a marble plaque and the face that I knew so well.
Shane and Alix took out their drawings for Gong Gong - "I love you Eugene Chan", "I miss you Khong Khong". Most of the niches had artificial flowers inserted into a narrow metallic vase. We rolled up the drawings and they fit perfectly in there. They sang a song. Posed for photos. It was as if they were visiting a live grandfather.
We walked around the shelves of niches, looking at the different marble plaques. In the end, we will all be reduced to that.
This morning, we saw a woman with a t-shirt which read "Life is who you love".
And I guess that basically sums it up.