Monday, September 16, 2019

Eulogy to my father, Kenneth Ng Fook San (1942 - 2019)

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[ This eulogy was never delivered during my father's wake. I was too distraught and cried throughout both attempts to finish this write-up. Before my father was cremated, I wished my families well and told them that my speech would be completed on my blog. ] 

My father Ng Fook San passed away on 14th September 2019 3am. The doctors deemed that he died  due to an infection that got him onto the hospital bed for 3 months, but I believe that it was probably because he could no longer cope with an added dosage of antibiotics that was administered because he developed a new bacterial infection from medical equipment being used to assist doctors in the drawing blood samples.

My father was born in the middle of World War II. As a child he was probably quite bad in school, dropping out in Secondary 2. I remember as a primary school kid, I found his report card in the family storeroom and saw that he scored 11 / 100 in mathematics. I have never seen him so angry and embarrassed in my whole life. My mum told me that he was so ashamed that he threw his report book away and never wanted me to see it again.

His formative years were spent in Ritz Farm where he managed my grand-dad's farm. An uncle Joe Chng who showed up at the wake and related a story that my dad was quite a cool teenager. He owned a Daytona Ducati motorcycle and spent his youth skiving at Sarabat stalls in Tuas, returning only to his farm office when his dad was inspecting the farm premises. As a farm manager who had to hunt and protect his property from trespassers, my dad was also a legitimate bad-ass. He was proficient and was subsequently licensed by Malayan authorities in the use of a shot-gun. 

What my dad lacked in book smarts, he has plenty of hands-on practical intelligence, something which I was unable to inherit from him. When the fences in my old semi-D house was blown down after a very strong wind, my dad built his own wooden fence with no external help and it lasted until we sold the property.

As a lover and boyfriend, my dad was relentless when chasing my mum. Being a Singaporean "interloper" dating a Senai lass who tapped rubber, my dad attracted a lot of negative attention from village gossipers. My mum was a subject of a lot of negative comments after my father bought her a car. This was a really big deal in the 1960s and my mum told me that her dad, unhappy with villagr gossip, beat her up so bad that she almost left home and eloped with my dad in her twenties. Somehow, my dad was able to find for his wedding a Chevrolet - A car that was unheard of at that time and no one was able to top that after that.

My dad spent the greater part of his career years in retail being one of the founders of Pet Lovers Centre then moving on to start his own pet business in mid-1980s. My father did not get along with his siblings and they soon parted ways long before my cousins turned Pet Lovers into this powerhouse today. Because I grew up in a retail environment so I had greater access to my parents during my formative years.

My dad had a pragmatic attitude towards his career. After we wound down the pet business, he took up a job being a manufacturing worker in a packing plant, retiring only after I graduated with my first degree. This was a story I payed in my head every time my dividends hit a new high and I reminded myself that if my dad could go on being useful to society,  why not me.

As an investor, my dad was second to none, clinging onto his piece of landed property even as his friends sold theirs and mocked him for stinginess and frugality. Even as I took over the portfolio and rebuilt it around the concept of dividend payouts, my father's portfolio continued to outpace mine because he has a day trader's instinct and years of experience with Teletext always timing his buys with a slight advantage and always selling it before I did it in my own portfolio.

As my father, his influence on my life was, unsurprisingly, large. He has probably spanked me only one or twice in my life and his laissez faire approach to parenting allowed me to develop my own personal interest towards my academics. I studied whatever I liked ( mainly engineering, mathematics and IT programming), where i felt like ignoring my books, I did that with no negative consequences (failing CL2 repeatedly every year) I was never berated for producing bad results and my dad, never really pressured me to take on any particular vocation. Unlike other parents, both my dad and mum were very open to new experiences and I spent my 'O' level and JC days hanging out in lounges listening to country music with my parents.

What my dad did give me is an unrelentingly tight-fisted attitude towards money and an amazing ability to cling onto my investments no matter how much my peers mocked me for being a fool. This worked wonders for me as piled my paycheck into the markets during the Great Recession of 2008 when everyone was panicking and running away from the financial markets.

When I was a teenaged rebel I did many things I was not proud of and said many negative things to my parents, I thought I was totally different from my dad in every way, excelling in my studies when he had not. As I got older, I find myself becoming more and more like my father, and being very proud of of the legacy that he has left for me.

I am, after all, my father's son.

Rest in Peace, Dad.

I miss you.

One day, we will meet again.




12 comments:

Kai said...

Beautiful. I feel your sorrow. Rest well my friend

Pipping Cafe said...

Take care chris

Unintelligent Nerd said...

My condolences. Take care Chris

Unknown said...

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Your dad strikes me as someone who wouldn't dwell on regrets or "shoulda's" / "woulda's".

Revel & celebrate a life well lived, interestingly & meaningfully.

Henry said...

Condolences and RIP Mr Ng. Take care Chris.

TY said...

I feel you Chris. I lost my father in March this year. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. God blessed

TFG - The Finance Guy said...

Condolences Chris. A beautiful story and life. Take care.

BlackCat said...

Sorry for your loss. Pls take care.

Nadia said...

My condolences to you and your family

hyom said...

Hi Christopher,

Sorry to hear about your father's passing.

Perhaps a consolation would be that a swift death is better than a prolonged one, if the person no longer has the health to enjoy life. Given a choice, I will choose a swift one when my turn comes if health deteriorates to the extent that there is no more quality of life.

One thing that caught my attention was that your dad took up a job as a manufacturing worker after he wound down the pet business. He timed his retirement to happen after the son graduated. He chose to rest only after his responsibility to the family has been fulfilled. That is a role model. Not many can be rich and successful even if they take risks and work hard, but the very least they should do after falling is to pick themselves up to take care of their family.

At age 77 with his only son grown up, I think he no longer has any burdens and worries about life when he left.

Sy said...

Sorry for your lost.
阿弥陀佛_/\_
Please take care

Christopher Ng Wai Chung said...

All,

Thank you for the kinds words, everyone.

I am now getting myself slowly on the road to recovery. Perhaps by getting some work done I would be able to better cope with my loss.

This blog is slowly getting back to normal.

Regards