Our father Wong Kwok Keung was born in 1935 on the twentieth day of the second lunar month. Originally from Kaiping County, Guangdong Province, he was the eldest son of his family with two younger brothers and a younger sister. He had a peaceful childhood and grew up around vegetable and peanut farms.
When our father was 13 years old, our grandfather brought him to Hong Kong, followed by our second uncle (our father’s brother). When our second uncle passed away, our father cleverly proposed to apply for our third uncle (his youngest brother) to reunite with them in Hong Kong as consolation for their loss. Together, the three of them supported each other in their lives in Hong Kong. Father had a quiet personality and did not speak much. Therefore, most of what we know about his life as a young man was told to us by our mother. Since he came to Hong Kong 60 to 70 years ago, making a living was not easy. Father had worked many different jobs and was occasionally switching professions. At one point he had joined a football team hoping to one day become a professional football player. When I saw a photo of him with his teammates, I thought he looked slick. Unfortunately, dreams and reality do not always match. Grandfather thought that committing to a stable job was the right thing to do if father were to start a family. Father heeded grandfather’s advice and followed in his footsteps to work in the shoe industry. What our father made were known in the industry as “soft bottoms” which refer to western-style indoor slippers. It was during this period that my father met his life companion, my mother. He married my mother when he was 26 years old. Even though my father was quiet, they both loved children, and that mutual interest brought them together.
Life after marriage was difficult as well. The population in Hong Kong grew dramatically in the ’60s. There was a shortage of housing space and water. I remember that the year my brother was born, we had to move home many times. Despite that, I saw neither fret nor fear in my father. Father continued to work hard and faced all obstacles with courage and selflessness. With the help of his former employer coupled with a good business environment for light industries in the ’70s, my father opened his own factory. It was then that our lives began to improve and became more stable. Father treated factory workers as family. Although he had high expectations for their work, he would show care for them and invited them to home for meals, mahjong, and gatherings alike. However, Sundays were always reserved for the family. When we were young, he would bring us out to the park, the beach, and have barbeque outings. As we got older, we brought him out to shop for presents for us. Those moments formed fond memories of our time together as a family. Father was also a very pious man. He would show care to relatives and friends, and most of all to my grandfather.
Although my father said little to instruct us, he would always say that it is important to be a person with principles. He did not wish that we would become our best selves, rather he would wish for us to be our unique selves. He said we are to be down to earth and treat others with integrity. In my heart, our father was not just a good father for us, but he was also our life coach. As we grew older, our father continued to support us. Rather than expanding his business, our father began to mortgage it to fund our education abroad. He taught us that it is neither success nor failure that counts, rather the importance is in how we accept and bear the consequences of our actions. He lets us discover our own paths and pursue our dreams. The trust and support that our father and mother gave us allowed us to establish happy lives wherever we lived. After he and our mother emigrated to Windsor, Canada, they were introduced to Christianity. The Holy Spirit opened the eyes of their hearts to accept Christ during an evangelistic meeting. They were baptised in the year 2000, and since then they have recited and copied the Bible daily. Father often brought us to joy with his sense of humor. On the other hand, he was honest and could be serious. He showed immense care for his grandchildren with his actions. When he knew that his grandchildren would start to learn walking, he would design and make by hand little shoes for them. These cute little shoes were the only toddler shoes he had ever designed and made. I could almost sense him close by me this moment listening with a smile.
Six years ago, our father developed an illness. Apart from losing mobility, he also lost his ability to speak. However, he never showed a sense of fear or anxiety but continued to reveal his sense of humor through his facial expressions. We will always remember the way his smiles have brought us courage and steadfastness. His fearlessness, honesty, optimism, kindness, and humor will forever be remembered.
On 3 March this year, he joined our mother who is in heaven, and entered into the embrace of Jesus Christ. I believe he and our mother are watching over us with a smile.
written by Grace-Mansze Sakuma
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