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in memoriam

January 25, 2012

There will be no post today – or, likely, for the next week – as I won’t be here to man the stations.

A last minute flight to Malaysia has been obtained and my family and I will be on it with hurriedly packed bags.

From what I can gather, he was happy when he went. Surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren. All except that pesky family that decided to set up camp in Australia.

No matter, we will be there shortly to wish him a final farewell. For now.

There is little one can do when a loved one departs without warning. No amount of reasoning allows it more sense. No amount of grieving will return them to you.

So we sit, quietly, in memory whilst we try to understand the enormity of death.

And so, for you (and for me), a memory.

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(For the original post, including the recipe pictured, please click here: peach melba parfait)

It was the winter of 1985 when my grandfather first came to Sydney.

Brusque winds and chilly air greeted him and my grandmother as they stepped out of the airport and into my parents’ waiting car. They were here to visit their granddaughter. The first of many. But one that would (unlike her Malaysian born grandparents, parents and cousins) be brought up as an Australian.

English speaking. Sun loving. Culturally reverent. Food obsessed.

My Ah-Kong (“grandfather” in Hokkien) returned to Sydney every two or three years.

To marvel at the never-ending beaches. To sit in our backyard watching brightly coloured birds circle and squabble and screech whilst smoking cigarettes and nursing a glass of cognac. To shake his head and gesture confusedly at me as we tried to bridge the language divide. To eat what he called “Australian food”.

Meat pies. Steaks. Fish and chips. Bacon and egg breakfasts accompanied by milky coffee. Sandwiches. Proper creamy ice-cream in a cone.

And peaches. Always peaches.

I remember his last visit, way back in the late Summer of 2004, before he grew too old and frail to endure the eight hour flight.

He would greet me from his position on the back porch in a wicker chair as I rolled back through the door from uni in the late afternoon.

“Seh-Lohh” would come the muted call as he waved. He could never pronounce my English name – too many difficult consonant sounds.

“Lai. Chia ke-chi.” (Come. Eat fruit.)

The juice would run down his chin as he took another bite of the peach in his hand. Shoes off, bag on the ground, I would sit and eat fruit whilst we spoke in a broken muddle of English and Hokkien.

“The prawns in Australia are big” he would say.

“The crabs in Malaysia are tastier” I would counter.

“Only because we buy the best ones when you visit” he would respond.

A pause.

“Australian fruit is the best” he would declare, whilst reaching for another peach. “Seafood can be found everywhere, but the fruit can only grow when the weather is right.”

We bring two kilos of Australian stone fruit to my Ah-Kong with each visit to his home. Peaches, plums and nectarines. We bring them to him, washed and sliced, as he sits on his back porch in a wicker chair.

“Chi-eh ke-chi ani tii” he will say to anyone who will listen. (“This fruit is very sweet.”)

And for a moment, I am sure, he is back in Sydney with the screeching birds circling overhead and the promise of steak  for dinner.



  • #1
    January 25th, 2012

    Very sorry about the bad news. Hope you have a safe trip back. x

  • #2
    January 25th, 2012

    Sending my condolences over to you and your family. Have a safe trip

  • #3
    January 25th, 2012

    Dear Shez,

    Condolences to you and your family. Be well.

  • #4
    January 25th, 2012

    So sorry for your loss Shez, my thoughts are with you and yours.

  • #5
    January 25th, 2012

    *hugs* Spend time with the family and recall the fond memories together.

  • #6
    January 25th, 2012

    My thoughts are with you and your family. Take care.

  • #7
    January 25th, 2012

    Thinking of you and your family back in Australia! So sorry for your loss

  • #8
    January 25th, 2012

    sorry to hear, all my love xox

  • #9
    January 25th, 2012

    oh mate *hugs* take care and have a safe trip

  • #10
    January 25th, 2012

    Sorry to hear that Sheryl. Have a safe trip.

  • #11
    January 26th, 2012

    Oh darling, I am so so sorry. All my love your way xoxo

  • #12
    January 26th, 2012

    My thoughts are with you and your family, have a safe trip and take care.

  • #13
    January 27th, 2012

    My condolences to you and your family for the loss of a loved one. My thoughts & prayers are with you.

  • #14
    January 27th, 2012

    Shez my condolences to you and your family. You will always have those memories and he will always be in your heart. My prayers are with you and your family during these sad times.

  • #15
    January 28th, 2012

    So sorry to hear about your loss Shez, lots of hugs for you and the family.

  • #16
    February 2nd, 2012

    My sincere condolances Shez. My thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

Shez