Earlier this week (Tuesday) Jean, my brother David’s wife, sent us a text message saying Johnson, a cousin of ours, had passed on. While we knew he has been unwell I hadn’t appreciated just how ill he has been.
We called him “Boy” for the longest time. He was the cutest kid. He had a roundish face and when he was little he had a haircut that made him look like that little kid Nicholas on the television sitcom “Eight is Enough”. His round face had a perpetual smile and he was almost always laughing. He saw the funny side of so many things and he infectiously and engagingly shared those insights. He was a lot of fun to be around.
His parents are two of the warmest and most generous persons I know. His mum is my mum’s younger sister – the fourth of at least five girls. I think my mum had at least one sister given away, as was the norm in those days. Parents often gave away one or more children when raising them becomes too much of a (mostly financial) strain.
His dad owns a transport business with a large fleet of trucks. He works very hard and has been financially successful. Johnson had been helping with the business before falling ill. He (the father) is a big hearted and generous man, and loved the extended family. He made sure anyone who was back in Klang visiting was amply looked after and often bought generous meals for those visitors. I have been a beneficiary of his generosity countless times. His generosity meant the family often came together and talked and laughed over very good meals. He loved his son. He spared nothing for him and I can only imagine the state of devastation he must be feeling.
As I write this on the way in to work, I wished I wasn’t here. I wished I was in Klang instead, with the rest of the family. I wanted to be there for my auntie and uncle and Jin, their other child who now lives and works in Queensland. I wondered with Tress last night, if she (Jin) would now leave Queensland to return to be with her parents. Or maybe they could go and visit and perhaps take their minds toward other matters for a little while.
This is a price I pay for choosing to leave Malaysia. The extended family support is something I can neither contribute to nor rely upon. I guess that is why many seek alternative forms of support when we’re here.
Thankfully, there are modern channels such as WhatsApp. My brother sent a few pictures of the funeral and while it was so very sad to see those pictures, it warmed my heart that so many of the extended family were there to be with them at this time. I saw a cousin from Singapore together with his wife too.
I guess Johnson made such an impact on so many (if not all) in the family that we are all just so sad that he had to leave us while so young.