My father was from a farming village called Gong Ming near Shenzhen, he was a farmer and married my mother when he was about 23 years old. He fled to Hong Kong in 1961 in search for a better life and worked as a decorator in Hong Kong.
I was adopted by my parents who could not have children due to the fact that my father was in Hong Kong and my mother was in China. So, my grandmother arranged for my adoption after my father fled to Hong Kong.
I met my father for the first time when I was about 8-9 years old, and although I can no longer remember the details of the date when I met him, I was told by my grandmother that he liked me instantly from the moment he saw me.
From then on, he came back to the village often to see me. I still remember the day where a particular conversation took place that changed my life completely. I was about 12 years old and it was announced by my primary school teacher that I was one of the few students in our village that passed the examinations and was good enough to be promoted to middle school. My grandmother did not want me to go as the cost for middle school was 20 RMB a year. She thought that a girl in a farming village need not be well educated, just knowing how to read, write and do simple mathematics would be good enough.
Fortunately, my father was a man with vision. Even though he was only educated to a P2 level himself, he insisted that I should continue my studies. He told me specifically that if I wanted to be a white-collar worker, I must be good at English, otherwise I could only be a blue-collar worker – it was then that I learnt the meaning of this terminology. I worked extremely hard on my English from then on and I even memorized the whole dictionary. My English progressed so much that I was good enough to be selected to represent my school in an inter-school English spelling competition.
My father sent me allowances directly from Hong Kong twice a year without letting my grandma know, and each time he sent me HK$100, which was about RMB 40 then. To give you an idea as to how much RMB 40 worth in those days: a family of 4 could only earn about RMB 40 a month; so you can imagine his allowances really made me one of the richest kids in school.
I came to Hong Kong at the age of 16 to be united with both of my parents, and the first thing my father asked me to do was to subscribe to a magazine called The Reader’s Digest. It was “the magazine read by all university students”, he said with enthusiasm. The second thing he did was order an English learning material called “Linguaphone” for me. A whole set of Linguaphone cost about $500, and in 1986 $500 was a lot of money, but my father spared no cost as long as it could help me to improve my English.
My father never really asked me to be this or to be that, but from his actions I could tell that he had high expectations of me. He was not a preaching or teaching type of parent, but as his daughter I could still feel his love and I learnt a lot from him. He was hardworking as a decorator who worked 7 days a week; he never complained; he was responsible, and he still cooked for the family after his whole day of work if my mother could not cook for us.
One time, I tried to cook for the family, and even though I used a rice-cooker to cook the rice, I still managed to make it half raw. My mother told me honestly that the rice was raw, but I disagreed with her so I asked my father if the rice was really raw. My father answered in a very skillful way, yet delivering the message without hurting me ,“I think it is ok , even if it is raw, it does not matter anyway, I can just drink two glasses of boiled water, then it will be cooked inside!”
My father was always my biggest fan and probably in his eyes, I was perfect. He supported all of my adventures and was very proud of all of my achievements no matter how small they may have been.
When I told him I wanted to go to the UK to study, he gave me all of his savings; when we wanted to buy our first flat, again, he gave us all of his savings; and when my husband Graham needed money for his business, not only did he give us all of his savings, he also agreed to sell his flat to support us.
My father was a frugal person to himself but was very generous to us. He showered us with different expensive gifts, especially with our children. I know my parents love our children and are happy to be grandparents to all 3 of them. He always told me ,“Raise and nurture them properly, you need not worry about money, we will give you all these properties for your retirement after we are gone.”
My parents moved back to our hometown in China after my father retired. Whenever our helper was on holiday, or when I needed him to take care of the children, he was always just one phone call away and he would be back in Hong Kong the very next day, along with many treats from home.
My father was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2016 and had two very major surgeries to remove the tumors. After the surgeries, he could no longer talk or eat properly as his tongue was mostly removed. After radio therapy, he recovered for a few years but in April 2019, it was confirmed that his cancer relapsed and there was nothing that could be done.
In the past few years, I have tried my best to go back to China to see them once every two weeks, any more than that and my father would scold me for going back too often, and even that he deemed as too often, because he did not want me to travel too much, “it is too tiring” he said. But I refused to oblige and insisted on at least once every two weeks.
Due to Covid-19, I was not able to visit them and so I would just use WeChat to talk to them. A few days before 15th Oct, I noticed that a wound had formed on his face where he was operated on, so I asked him to come to Hong Kong to seek medical help. Unfortunately, the doctors informed us that no surgery could be performed on him as he was already too weak and the best thing we could do was to care for him at home for the last few months of his life.
During the last two months, he did not complain of any pain. However, we knew that he was suffering. He could not talk , could not see properly, could not hear much and most importantly could not eat properly. He was very frail and had no quality of life. My father and mother were baptized in 2014, I prayed to God that He would take my father away with Him in his sleep without pain. God once again answered our prayers, and my beloved father passed away peacefully in his sleep on 16 December 2020 at the age of 81.
My father was an ordinary yet a great man. Without my father, I would not have what I have today. If I am a good person, it is because I have a loving Father in heaven, and on earth, I had my great father Mak Leung Ming. I love my father dearly and I will miss him sorely.
Rest in peace father and thank you for your love and dedication to us.
From Graham—son in law
I first met Angel’s father in 1990, when I visited her home with another friend. I had no idea, at that time, that he was my future father-in-law. Later, when Angel and I decided to get married, he supported us wholeheartedly.
One event I will never forget was at our wedding, which was in my hometown in the UK. Neither of Angel’s parents had ever travelled outside of the local Hong Kong / Shenzhen area of China before, so everything was new to them. In a traditional English / Christian wedding, the father of the bride has a special role, of giving her away to the groom. I am not sure how much of this he fully understood, but we still have the video to show that he performed this role flawlessly as he walked Angel down the aisle to the front of the church – even saying “I do” in answer to the question posed by the minister, “Who gives this woman in marriage?”!
He was always supportive, putting our needs before his own. When I was struggling with my business in 2001, he willingly allowed us to sell his flat to raise capital. I will never forget that.
He was always quiet and humble, going about his work seven days a week to support his family. Fortunately, he was able to retire just as our children arrived and they now have many fond memories of time spent with their ‘Gunggung’.
Eulogy for Gunggung:
Before reading on, I’d like to invite you to search up Bloody Christmas by Jerry Goldsmith on Youtube, press play and just listen for a moment, imagining what scenes must be playing on the screen, and gunggung (公公, grandfather) sat on the sofa watching intently at the TV.
Our gunggung loved to watch older western action movies despite not understanding the language. With some of his more favourite ones, he could even tell you what was happening without the subtitles on. An action movie soundtrack seems the only apt background music to have on whilst we spend some time thinking about him.
Gung gung was not one to smile often, but when he did, it was contagious and the whole room would light up with him; He wasn’t one to speak and lecture for hours, but when he opened his mouth, one couldn’t help but respect the life experience and depth of knowledge that he had. He didn’t show much affection, but when you needed it the most, he would appear with some of your most favourite snacks, glances of understanding and a few words of wisdom. You could always be 100% sure that you were seen and heard by him, and for that I will always be grateful.
Gunggung’s cancer diagnosis was made in Hong Kong whilst I was still studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I am grateful that God allowed me to be useful to gunggung during that time, the chance to take care of him and take him to hospital appointments which gave me another opportunity to learn of the great character that my gunggung had. Whilst all the nurses and doctors spoke of the pain he must have been enduring during his treatments, he never once complained of the discomfort he was in. He was often more patient than we were when waiting for the countless tests at the hospital, more thankful to doctors than we were, and only ever worried about whether we were spending too much of our time there with him.
Thank you gunggung, for teaching me patience, for living out strength, and for all the times you’ve shown us that love and care can be given in many different ways. I will miss our always short but meaningful chats, and I look forward to the day when we will see you again in heaven, where sickness and pain do not exist.
Our gunggung was always a quiet force in our family. Everyone who had ever met him would agree that he was a humble man through and through; he never liked to be the centre of attention. In life and even now in death, when he was diagnosed with cancer, he wouldn’t want us to worry about him
I remember when I was a little girl, every day I’d come home from school and seen grandpa tucked in comfortably at the sofa, reading a new novel as he’d breeze through books like the wind. I remember sitting down and reading right next to him; I will always treasure those peaceful afternoons we spent together.
One weekend whilst Karen and I were little kids, we stayed over at our grandparent’s house in Shenzhen. We spent the evening watching action movies with him, which we quickly learnt was his favourite genre, as we’d never seen him stare so intently at the screen, absolutely captivated by the car chases. I remember waking up and watching him lovingly tend to his flower garden, and spending the afternoon walking around town, our grandpa and grandma proudly showing us off to the village. I think back on that weekend fondly as we all loved spending time with them.
His actions always were louder than his words, with him coming up to you and making sure we’ve eaten, or giving us his spare change so we could secretly buy snacks after school. A couple of years ago, when I’d come back from my first year of university, I was walking around the garden when gunggung pulled me aside and without a word, pointed to the roof of his shed. There it was, a tiny kitten he was trying to feed and tempt off the roof. Even when he was still recovering from a massive surgery, he was so considerate to try and nurse a sick animal back to health.
The loss of him is devastating, and it will be felt every time we go home. But I take comfort in knowing that when he passed, it was in a warm and caring home, with the people that loved him surrounding him.
Since my grandad on my father’s side passed away before I was born, I’ve only ever had one grandfather figure in my life, and albeit the case, I’ve received and learnt so much from my gunggung than I ever would’ve imagined. Looking back at the years that I spent with him, I have realised so much that he’s done to make sure I was happy and taken care of.
I must say, his way of showing his love towards me wasn’t done in an obvious way, but in a more subtle yet touching fashion. As a child, he bought me my first bicycle, and chased me around the park as I rode on it, never once complaining that I was going too fast for him to catch up. I can still remember the times that I would look behind me whilst riding, and not once that I wouldn’t see him speed walking, trying hard to keep me in sight. Moreover, he always made sure that I would receive bundles of goodies whenever he came back from China to visit us. I will always remember the tempting smell of the roasted duck that he would bring us and the bottles of Yakult that I would enjoy every day after school. His beaming, affectionate smile is definitely unforgettable; the type of smile that would illuminate on his face whenever I walked in the room.
Gunggung was remarkable when it came to his patience. No matter how annoying I would be, he would always keep his calm. Not once did he tell me off for misbehaving. When I was younger, he always dealt with my childish cheekiness, whether it was destroying his plants in his serene garden by over-watering them, to asking him to pay for my ice-cream whenever I wanted it.
Towards the end, although he was very frail, he still managed to show me the utmost strength that could come from a person, and this was conveyed through his stoical attitude. As our family would know, gunggung would never complain about anything. For the past 4 years, gunggung had been battling stage 4 oral cancer, which ultimately cost him his ability to speak properly. Everyone around him knew how hard it must’ve been to struggle with such a condition, but not only did he not constantly complain about how hard life was for him, he still carried out his hobbies, smiled at us and loved us. Looking back now, I cannot help but admire him for what he did and hope to apply such attitudes to my own life.
As much as it pains me to say goodbye to gunggung, I am very much glad that he is finally out of pain. Right now, I know gunggung is in heaven, where pain ceases to exist, tending to his own little garden there, planting rose flower seeds and harvesting his vegetables. I can only thank the Lord for gifting me with such a loving grandfather. I love you very much gunggung and thank you for caring for me all those years. I will you again one day in heaven.
Date: Friday, 8 January 2021
Time: 10:30 AM
Venue: St Andrew’s Church
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