In Malaysia, Grandparents Day is celebrated yearly on October 4th. Let’s take this opportunity to remind ourselves of what grandparents mean to us, and to pay tribute to just how grand grandparents are.
In conjunction with Grandparents’ Day, the Head of Expansion of Homage Malaysia, Kevin Hoong reflects on some of his favourite memories with his grandparents.
1. Tell us about one of your earliest memories with your grandparents.
My grandparents cared for me until I was about 4 years old as my parents were working in the city. We lived in a Kuala Lumpur suburb called Klang, and it was where most of my earliest memories as a kid were formed.
I remember riding on a mini tricycle at the porch while my grandparents were watching me with pure happiness and joy and being able to spend quality time with their grandson.
My late grandfather had strong and sturdy hands. He worked at the sawmill and took on a difficult job at the mill as a labourer. Nevertheless, he loved us unconditionally and I vividly remember how he would find time off work to take me out on his bicycle, place me on his little bike basket, and ride to the nearby confectionary store to buy some sugus candies. That remains one of my happiest childhood memories with him.
2. Ever gotten into trouble with your grandparents?
Growing up, my grandfather was quite the disciplinarian in the family. He would make sure that we abided to the right values at home. As grandchildren, we were taught to address the elders in respectful terms, finish our meals and not be picky with it, and most importantly, to not be ill-behaved, complain or whine excessively.
I remember there was a time when I was out running about outdoors and had clumsily slipped and injured myself. My grandfather lectured me for being reckless but immediately after, he sat me down on his lap to look for any bruises and helped me rub the pain off.
3. As grandchildren, we would always remember the little things here and there about our grandparents. Were there any vivid memories of what your grandparents always used to say?
Both my grandparents grew up in a poor family. Because of that, they never failed to remind us to always be appreciative of what we have. For example, we’re not to pick and choose what we get to eat and had to stay at the table until we finished everything from our plate, and that meant every grain of rice.
4. What’s the best thing about being a grandchild?
You are utterly spoiled by your grandparents no matter how grown up you are as a grandchild. They still shower me with affection and treat me like their little grandson even after all these years!
5. What is your favourite thing to do with your grandmother?
I really enjoy doing simple chores with my grandmother. Preparing the ingredients for her to cook, going out for a walk, or even just being present with her at home during dinner is precious to me.
6. If there is one thing that your grandma is really good at, what would it be?
My grandmother’s cooking, without a doubt. She’s the chef of the family and I’m not being bias here. Growing up through a difficult childhood, my grandmother grew up with very little resources. Because of that experience, she believes in giving. She showers the people around her with good home cooked meals and that’s her way of expressing her love for people.
My grandmother makes the most delicious homemade Pan Mee (Mihun Kueh). She would prepare the dough and all the ingredients are skilfully and patiently prepared on her own. She never forgets to include the fried anchovies, shallots and garlic as toppings for the noodles. I can easily finish 2 bowls whenever she prepares them!
7. What did people say about your grandmother when she was younger?
That she was the most beautiful person in the family! She had a charming smile with a dimple to boot. And everyone knows her to be very proper, clean and tidy. She’s grown up with this mannerism and has passed them down to my mother and her siblings as well.
8. What do you think people say about your late grandfather?
People would say that my he was a man of few words — stern but very loving and kind. As the eldest in the family, he played the role of a big brother and everyone had a huge amount of respect for him. With the sharpest of memories, he could remember all his grandchildren’s birthdays and even our partners’ names.
9. Tell us about your fondest memory of your grandparents.
There are honestly too many to choose from! When I was little, I remember looking forward to going back to Klang during the weekends to meet both my grandparents. They had a large jackfruit plant at the back of their house and would occasionally bring them home for us grandchildren. My grandfather would sit on his self made stool in the kitchen, diligently cutting open the spiky green fruit that often comes with an oddly pungent fragrant smell.
The word “jackfruit” is a play on words for “mosquito bites” in the Hokkien dialect, and I used to wonder why we were always referring to mosquito bites as a kid when my grandfather was cutting up the jackfruit. Haha!
10. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from your grandparents?
We often ran to our grandparents whenever we had an argument with our parents. They would always advise me to be filial and respectful to my parents. I never truly understood that notion as a child — that just because they are my parents, I have to be unconditionally respectful to them, or in Chinese we say, 孝顺, which means filial piety. Years later, I’ve learnt to understand how important and deeply rooted this value is for a harmonious family relationship.
11. If you could make any wish for your grandmother, what would you wish for her?
I would wish for my grandmother to be forever surrounded by people who love and care for her and to know that we will always be there for her when she needs us. I never fail to pray for her good health and happiness. She truly deserves all the happiness in the world after raising her grandchildren and children selflessly.
I believe if there was one thing I could give my grandparents: it would be my time, attention, affection and love. These are things that no amount of money in the world can buy.
12. Show us your favourite photo with your grandparents!
There is no feeling quite like the love from a grandparent. It is a sensation that is so deep, so fulfilling, and indescribable. Our grandparents are what we can all aspire to be in life as we grow. So, let’s hear it for grandparents! Are grandparents important in your family life? What will you and your children do to celebrate Grandparents Day this year? Reflecting for a few moments on shared experiences and fun might be all the inspiration you need to let your grandparents know how they feel.