A week ago, my grandfather – former coolie, former opium addict – was called Home, at the grand old age of 101.
Ah Gong has always been very dear to me. Not having him around with me for the rest of my life here on Earth is a painful thought to bear. Yet I know with all certainty that I will see him for the rest of eternity when I am Home with him.
My family has spent the past week recounting their special moments with Ah Gong. I’ve heard so many say what a kind, gentle and patient man he is.
I had many such moments with my grandfather. God orchestrated for me to be taken care of by my Ah Gong and Ah Ma for the first 7 years of my life, while my parents were at work during the day. I don’t think I would be who I am today if it wasn’t for those 7 years.
Ah Gong had a huge, huge heart. He modelled for me how love should look.
What amazed me most about him was his great faith, which led to his continual declarations of the Truth about God. He was passionate about talking to others about Jesus.
He knew, deep within him, the sovereignty of his Father. My aunts shared how even in his last years, when in his failing strength he dozed off during the church services, each time the preacher said the name “Jehovah”, Ah Gong would immediate wake up and declare: “Jehovah is number 1!”
Early in his life, when he was working as a coolie to support his family of 10, life was very tough. Ah Gong depended on opium to give him the strength to continue.
However, when he came to the Lord sometime in 1995, he was determined to end this lifelong addiction. The family sought help from the Institute of Mental Health, which gave him a substitute drug to overcome his opium addiction. But he got addicted to this substitute drug instead.
The doctors warned that if he stopped taking these drugs, he would die within 6 months. Desperate, the family cried to God for help.
God heard their cries and delivered my grandfather. Miraculously, he was freed from the addiction. And no, he didn’t die within 6 months. He went on to live past 100 – 101, in fact! Amazing grace, for a man whose faith I consider amazing.
One of my fondest memories is of my grandfather teaching me to conquer my fears. My grandfather loved catching tiny beetles. He would catch them whenever he saw one, and put them into containers in his room
He spent hours each day with me, patiently trying to help me overcome my fears to touch the beetle.
Not once did he get upset with me. Not once did he force my hand, to make the learning process faster. Gently, step by step, he guided me, and eventually – to my mom’s horror – I was playing with the beetles, with my grandfather.
Ah Gong had a huge, huge heart. He modelled for me how love should look. Back when my cousin and I were living with my grandparents, we would misbehave, as kids will. But my grandfather never reacted towards us in anger. Rather, he gently rebuked us – always affirming at the end of the rebuke that despite our wrongdoing, he loved us just as much as before.
He showed me that we can’t train a child up through fear. Love is the way.
One night last week, it was my turn to stay up overnight at the funeral wake. I thought about how God had blessed us with this wonderful, gentle, kind man as our father, our grandfather, our in-law.
Hearing these stories, looking back, I thanked God for blessing my family with such a great patriarch. He worked hard for his children. He loved his children deeply. He cared and fought for a better life for them. He received others into the family with open arms.
My heart rejoiced at knowing how blessed I was to have a grandfather like him. A man of compassion, a man of conviction, a man who couldn’t stop confessing the name of God.
And I realised something: This was my spiritual inheritance.
Who I am, I am because of Ah Gong. This is my DNA, the spiritual DNA that he passed to me, the DNA I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to.
Ah Gong, while this temporary parting breaks my heart, I am at peace knowing that I will see you again. I’m so proud of you. I miss you, and I love you.