It’s about 2.45 am now, and I just came back from the wake. My heart has been heavy for the past few days because of a tragedy that has befallen one of my relatives from my dad’s side. His name is Ken Lim. My dad and his dad are cousins, but lived together in kampong last time so they were really close. So when it comes down the family tree, he and I are distant cousins. Just saw him during CNY when he came to sit around for awhile, without the kids this year because according to chinese customs, they are supposed to refrain from celebrating new year if they had lost a family member in the past year.
I don’t really know how to start, but two months ago, his wife passed away after a 3 year battle with cancer. They have 4 children, aged 3, 5, 9, and 13, the eldest being a girl, and the younger three boys. At that time when I attended her funeral, I was already feeling very sad for the kids, who had lost their mother.. Little did we expect..
Just a few days ago, my cousin met with an accident on TPE and passed away. The children became orphans overnight.
It is so heartbreaking that I don’t even know how to express in words. The kids are still so young, and had to experience the loss of both parents within the span of two months. The younger boys still do not fully understand, but the eldest child, says she understands her responsibility over her brothers, and she will take care of them. When someone wanted to adopt one younger brother, she declined, saying, “I’ve only got them now. I will take care of them.” Such touching words, and a heart that knows kinship at such a young age. She’s only 13.
The newspaper covered their story, (and I’m really thankful for the reporters covering this), and donations came pouring in for the kids. Many strangers came to the wake to give ‘white money’ (bai jin). Some were looking at more long term help such as buying groceries for them every week, donating a sum of money every month, one even wanted to buy insurance for the children till they are 18 years old and hire a tutor to help in their studies. Christian groups offered to bring the kids out on weekends to play. People shared the story from Lian He Wan Bao’s facebook page, and everyone had kind words and encouragement for them – asking them to stay strong, especially the girl, who has shown only bravery and maturity since the incident. All these people are strangers.
They are now going to be cared for by their maternal grandmother on weekdays, and paternal uncles and grandfather on weekends. Their grandmother is not working to take care of the kids. They have two uncles, one works as a construction odd jobs man, and the other is a taxi driver who also has a family and two kids to support. Their paternal grandfather (father of the deceased) is also retired. Without the donations, I seriously don’t know how the children are going to grow up healthily… The grandmother and uncles have opened a joint account to store all the donations that the public so generously gave. The money will go towards the children’s daily expenses and needs.
I saw on facebook, some comments said that the money is better to be kept monitored under a government body, and not in the hands of relatives. I felt hurt to read that. Why bother to help if you don’t trust the person you’re helping? To those who are worried that the money might be misused, let me share with you… During a family discussion at the wake, one of the brothers of the deceased said in hokkien, “Now when I go out to eat, I will ask for $2 rice. When I want to order drink, I will also think twice. If people see me do anything frivolous, they might think that I misuse the money. You think it’s so easy to take public’s money? No, it is a huge responsibility. It is money meant for the kids.”
It is so easy to be misunderstood, even if he was using his own money for his own matters and not misusing the funds kept for the children.
I trust that they, the closest relatives, will know when it is the right time to use the money for the kids, and not some governmental body… Thank you.
As family members, we are so so grateful to everyone who has offered their help, one way or another. Truly grateful. It just shows that Singaporeans are not a cold lot. We have warmth, we have love and we have kindness in our society. We do. Thank you.
People’s generosity helps them to tide over this tough period. But for the rest of the road, it is not going to be an easy one. And they are really still so young.. haiz.
The wake will be on till Friday morning, at BLK 627 Woodlands Avenue 6.
*Read updates about the children in my following blog posts: