Kah Hee, 1933 – 2006

Dad passed away rather suddenly a few weeks ago in Malaysia. I had a call from my sister one Friday afternoon that my dad had been admitted to the hospital. They told me that he is doing OK until suddenly on Sunday I had the dreadful call that he passed away. It was a shock to the family here in Canada. I returned home immediately to attend his funeral and brought along Nanzaro.

I want to dedicate this blog here today for my dad, Kah Hee.

Dad was a dashing man when he was young. Even my mum, being a conservative person, always says that he was handsome!

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Dad never told me much about his young days and of his friends during his school days. He sure had quite a number of photos of his friends. They do look like very very close friends.

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He he he … sometimes I think he’s a very vain man. I also had quite a few photos of him with his macho pose, sunglasses and all. I think he must have been a very eligible bachelor during his younger days.

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In his youth, he was very active in sports. He played basketball in high school and does play soccer too. His passion was badminton. I remember that he goes to his boss’s house to play with his friends on weekend nights. He brought me to some of the games night which lasted beyond my bedtime.

Dad played soccer until he was in his fourties! I remember I was so proud watching him in a match and was beaming for days when he won. I bragged about it in school to my friends. Not that anyone would care to know but I just was that proud.

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Dad married mum when he was in his late twenties. It was pretty much a norm in those days where marriages were arranged. Dad and mum’s married was one such arranged marriage. Mum told me that dad was a shy person who not just only did not speak much during their initial meetup (in the presence, of course, of an entire contingent of relatives!) but he also did not walk around at all.

In the first two meetings, my mum only saw my dad seated all the while. She actually thought that this man here is too good to be true … too handsome for her. She told me told she was so fearful that he was crippled and she was too shy to ask!

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Dad and mum had a full life together. During the last decade of his life, mum’s life is centred around dad … taking care of him. As much as mum did not say much about dad’s passing, I know that her heart is broken and misses him a lot.

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Dad and mum is so compatible to one another. They make a very lovely young couple. Dad works hard while mum stays home.

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I was the eldest in the family. Mum adores me but dad loves my sister the most. You know, I really wished that dad heaped attention on me as much as my sister. When I was young, I was quite jealous of that. For some reason, dad relates to daughter better than sons. πŸ™‚

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Nevertheless, he was always my hero. I looked up so much to him. He does not speak much and I guess that how he is. Despite that, I know that he is really proud of me and what I had made myself of in my life.

I had a serious road accident when I was in my teens. A small truck broadsided my motorbike on a highway. I almost died in that accident and my dad, who was driving just behind me, saw that happened. Recovering the in hospital, I realize what I meant to him and how a harrowing experience it must have been for him.

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We never had a car when we were young but Dad did borrow a car from his boss for the weekends. I remember that it was so exciting counting down the days to those weekends when he had the car. He would bring us to the beach, the parks, the waterfalls … it was really happy times for me. I remember so vividly those days … down to the details.

There was once I brought a pack of plasticine on a trip. Well, I forgot about it and left it on the dashboard. The hot afternoon sun melted it all over the dashboard and made a mess. I was so worried that he will get fired because I ruined the expensive car.

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Talking about cars. Dad’s first car was a clanker. It was a Volkswagen and costs only 500 Ringgit (about $150 Canadian). We were so excited that we finally had a car of our own. Well, the car lasted a good three days! I was in the car with him during a thunderstorm … the wiper got stuck and so he asked me to stick my hands out and flick the wiper up each time it got stuck on the way down. I was totally drenched! And to add to our misery, the car broke down shortly after and we had to push the car in a middle of a heavy downpour.

It was another VW before we got a more respectful car of our own.

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Dad travelled quite a bit. He even made a trip to China on business back in those days when the country was closed to the world outside. During that time, it was very difficult to get a visa to China because of the communism. He had also made pilgrimage to the Holy Lands — I think he enjoyed this the most of all his journeys. He felt close to God.

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Dad is man of God. He loves God and is a faithful servant. Right until before he had a stroke, he was very active serving in the church. I can’t do what he does … he would come home from work and spend hours on the Word of God — writing very meticulously his thoughts on his notebooks.

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You know what I was most proud of this man? It’s his unselfish service. He spends a lot of time as a lay preacher in a church that many would not want to serve in — the leprosy centre in Sungai Buloh. It takes a lot for someone to remain motivated to serve in such a small, unseen congregation. Sometimes the congregation is just a handful … but dad will just prepare for the service just as he would in any other church. He did this for many, many years.

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Dad had a stroke eleven years ago. It was at my house when he felt that something was wrong. I remember that day very well. He told me that he felt weak and then went straight to a desk and tried to write a few words. I saw that fear in him and we rushed him to the hospital. Despite that, he was quite a determined independent person. He would try to do everything on his own and does his daily exercises. He wanted to keep healthy.

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Two months ago, by the Grace of God, I had the chance to visit him in Malaysia. The last I saw him face to face was almost seven years ago. Mum told me he was the happiest for a long time during the one week I was there. You know, I am so glad to hear that.

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So, Dad passed away on November 19th, 2006. While it was supposed to be a sad time, the whole family was so glad to see so many people coming over attending his wake over three nights. On the second night, there were over 250 people at our small home which spilled out to the street. I was glad to see how respected a man he was.

Many had very good words for him. He had led a full life and most importantly, he had served God well. His work had touched many people around him. He will be remembered well.

Dad was buried at the Cheras Christian Cemetary. His grave was next to a shady tree. I was happy to see him assigned to that plot … he deserved a beautiful resting place.

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So, Dad … farewell and rest well. I know that you are now enjoying the presence of God in heaven. That is what you had always wanted.

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2 Timothy 4:7: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

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  1. Suzanne

    What a lovely tribute to your father.

  2. AWFI

    What a beautiful tribute to your father!! And Praise the Lord!! He is in a wonderful place.

  3. Sandrine

    I am sure your dad is very proud of you. Thank you for talking about your dad, it was a beautiful way to talk about him. I was very moved.

    A French reader

  4. Wai Bing & KC

    Ben, it’s such a moving tribute. Makes me think of my dad…in times like this it’s reassuring to know that your dad has lived a full life and that he did get to see you when he was alive (that’s most important for any parents). Take care and friends always, Wai Bing & KC

  5. iportion

    I am sorry for your loss thank you for sharing your love for him with us.

  6. LotusRapper

    Ben, that was a very touching tribute. I’m sure your father was/is very proud of you and your life. And it’s very courageous of you to share a glimpse of your personal life with the Chow Timers.

    You know, we are truly blessed to have the luxury of having abundant food (and other life necessities) in our lives, and the fact that you make this blog not just a mere one-dimensional lens on food but rather a multi-faceted insight into the people behind the blog is most wonderful and inspiring.

    In Him,
    LR

  7. Phil

    I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my Mother on Nov 29th 2000. It was was a hard time of year for us to deal with that loss. That was a very touching tribute to your Dad. It is important to focus on what he did in his life and make that your lasting memory.

  8. a sister in Christ

    HI Ben & Suanne,
    A very touching tribute to your dad, thanks for sharing! What a legacy he’s left behind.
    Been reading your blogs for a while upon my hubby’s recommendation.
    May the peace of God which transcend all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  9. Kirk

    Our sincere condolences. You’ve done a wonderful and moving testimonial to your Dad.

  10. Passionate Eater

    Thank you for sharing about your father, his sacrifice and dedication to his family, and his life. It is a privilege for me to learn about his life through your essay and his photographs. I am sure he would be honored by your tribute.

  11. Nicole

    Coming out of lurking to say that the tribute was beautiful. I lost my mom in 2002. It was hard b/c it was always just the 2 of us. One thing someone told me (and which turned out to be true) is that the first year is the worst. It’s the first year you do things, celebrate things, and realize things w/o them. I wish you all the best this first year.

  12. Chubbypanda

    Hey Ben,

    I’m deeply sorry for your recent tragedy. The loss of a parent in unimaginable until you face it. I’m glad you were able to share your memories of your father with us.

    I’m sure his spirit is watching over you and your family.

    – Chubbypanda

  13. Andaliman

    My sincere condolences. I lost my mom 8 years ago and my dad 5 years ago.

  14. Kunstemaecker

    What a beautiful hommage to your dad.
    He must have been a wonderful man.

  15. sally

    I am sorry Ben! Those pictures of your dad when he was young reminded me of the pictures of my dad and his “brothers”…

  16. Ben

    Hey all again: Thanks for the notes and appreciate those words. I brought home to Canada all of the family pictures and had just started scanning them in. It is a lot of work but it’s the best way to preserve them. At this point, it’s important to remember the memories.

  17. JYap

    Hi brudder, It’s been almost 1 month since your dad’s passing. I, too would like to extend my condolences albeit late. With your dad’s demise, you will have to lead your family and continue his legacy to the next generation.

  18. a.g.

    That really was lovely. You’re in my thoughts.

  19. peew

    My deepest condolences to you and your family on the demise of your dad. He would have been moved and proud by the tribute. Take care.

  20. Arturo Rafael

    Hi Ben and family,

    I was so shocked to know that your Dad passed away last month. My deepest condolences to you and your loved-ones. It’s been a while since I visited your site that’s why I was so surprised to learn about your Dad’s passing. Again, my sincerest and heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

    God Bless you all!

    Arturo and family

  21. Ben

    Hi Arturo: How are you doing? Been a while. We could catch up by doing one of those regular Friday lunches we had. Thanks for the condolences. The family is doing well.

  22. Candy Spooner

    Wow, it’s so touching to read about your father. I am a Christian too and I did hear of a lepersy centre in Sg Buluh but never knew anyone serving there. I would be so proud if I had a father that loves the Lord Jesus like your dad did! I’m sure he is enjoying the mansion built in heaven for him!!! πŸ™‚

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