Henry in town

A cousin of my late father had had a rough year or so. Henry’s wife had died unexpectedly late last year, after a cancer surgery, and not long after that, his son went through a divorce. His other child, a daughter, is single and all 3 now live together. He’s a wonderful family man and always finds time for extended family.

Several months ago when we were back in Malaysia, we met up with him and he said he was going to be in Perth in June, and then in Melbourne on the first weekend of July. We said we should spend some time together when he’s here. I wanted to spend time with him when he’s here, as I wanted him to know that even a “black sheep” sort of member like me, is there for him as part of the extended family that he clearly treasures. It appeared as though the rough patch he’s had in the past 12 months or so, had only flamed his passion as he reached out to extended family in Perth and here in Melbourne.

So on Friday arvo, he trekked into the city and he and I caught up over lunch and chatted for a bit. Later that night, we had dinner, together with his hosts. John ad Siew are his cousins (on his late mum’s side) and they live not far from us. I had known them for a while and they recently started coming to St Alf’s so we’ve gotten to know them better since. We had created a WhatsApp group (named “Henry in town) to keep information and updates flowing. Dinner was in a nice Chinese restaurant near our home and as we chatted, the reach and extent of our respective extended families hit me in a punchy reminder of how closely knitted the communities in Klang was (or is).  We were the last to leave the restaurant, having chatted freely for a little while.

The next morning, we dropped by John and Siew’s home and picked up Henry and John. We were heading to Woodend to catch up with my cousin Ruth and her hubby Jon and their son Micah. Siew had a St Alf’s training but as we drove on the eastern highway, she rang John just in time for us to get off that highway and picked her up from St Alf’s. Her training had finished, and she had read Tress’ message to Henry and John when we were parked outside their home to pick them up. So, all 5 of us reconvened and made our way up north east.

We stopped at Mount Macedon to see the memorial cross, had some coffee, and then headed to Ruth and Jon’s. Siew hit it off with Micah and John hit it off with Jon – they both shared a love for old cars and Jon showed us all his pride, a Mazda 1500SS or something like that. It was a beautifully restored old car – it gleamed and its engine purred with pure beauty.

Ruth and Jon had prepared lunch from their farm’s produce and it was very sumptuous. We only left their property late arvo, for Henry to get back to the eastern suburbs for his final catch up with extended family here in Melbourne.

He left Melbourne early Sunday morning and as we caught up with John and Siew at St Alf’s and they introduced us to their son, daughter in law and grandson, I felt Henry’s cause of ensuring extended families stayed in touch, had already rubbed off on us.

As we spent the rest of the day doing our usual thing – lunch, grocery shopping, cooking the week’s lunches, giving the little guy his longer walk etc., I said to Tress I didn’t feel the weekend had given me much rest. I was only partly right. A part of me found rest. Rest in the peace that comes with knowing the efforts of reaching out to extended families can have outcomes that aren’t too shabby. Like most of my elders, Henry showed me I always have much to learn.