Monthly Archives: February 2014

golden daffodils

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A house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, whether or not the sun is shining outside. A.A. Milne

Let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I grew up in multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious state of Penang in Malaysia. I recall how my parents integrated well within the community they were in; people in the neighbourhood and at work. Everyone got on well and lived in harmony with one another despite their different backgrounds. We rejoice in each other’s celebrations. My own best friend at primary school was a lovely girl who had an Indian father and a Chinese mother, they were of the Christian faith. Since my father was Indian Muslim (known as Mamak in Malaysia) and my mother a very fair Malay woman, I am also of a mixed heritage just like my best friend. People even thought we were sisters, we looked very similar and we were very close. Altogether I had a very happy childhood indeed.

Life in England is rather different though. Many Muslims here tend to keep to themselves, perhaps because they are of the minority, unlike in Malaysia where Muslims are the majority population. The image of Islam in the West is also tarnished, more so today than ever, as a result of radical Islamic groups/individuals who go around committing heinous acts under the name of Islam. It makes me really sad. My hubby feels the same way. He grew up in north England, the English people there were very kind to the Asian community who moved there in the 60s, his grandparents included. He did encounter some minor racial abuse at school amongst his peers, but I suppose that can happen anywhere on the globe. There are mean people everywhere!

These days my hubby joins the local inter-faith group, where he has regular get-together with people of other faiths. I hope to join them soon, I think it’s important to represent the correct version of Islam to the community around us. We are not scholars or preachers, just ordinary Muslims who believe in being kind, tolerant, loving and helpful towards others, regardless of racial and religious backgrounds. This is what our true religion promotes, contrary to what some sick Muslims go around portraying. I still remember my local milkman when we first moved to our current city. He was in his 70s, a perfect English gentleman who was so kind and loving. He would give chocolates and toys to my young children every time he came to collect his payment on Fridays. He would always ask how we were, talked about the weather, gave me some general advice or another. We really liked him a lot. I was sad to hear of his passing last November, he was 82.

Another wonderful person I would like to mention is my previous neighbour, we used to live in another area not too far from where we are now. She was a lively Jamaican lady who’s raised 16 children. She was in her late 70s at that time, she would always greet us happily and never failed to give money to my children every Christmas. She also passed away a few years ago, surrounded by several of her children. Uncle Lionel’s (my next door neighbour) recent death has made me realise how fortunate I’ve been to have known all these amazing people from the older generation. They all remind me of the golden host of daffodils that appear around this time of the year; so bright, lively, bringing cheer and joy to those around them. I do hope that their admirable character will rub off on me as I grow older, Inshallah.

I will never forget them, that is for certain. This includes my own precious father/grandparents/relatives who have passed on. And I cherish the golden agers I know who are still in my life. I end this post with a happy note, my beloved mom shall turn 72 tomorrow, Inshallah. She’s one of the strongest Malay woman I’ve ever known, certainly the loveliest. I am honoured to be her eldest daughter. Happy Birthday Mama, may God bless you for ever more with everything good. May we meet again soon, God Willing. I love you lots with all my heart. You are definitely one of my golden daffodils, the most significant one in my life.❤

daffodils and hyacinths by my fireplace

golden daffodils by my hallway table

my beloved mom (72 tomorrow) with my middle sister

my beloved mom (72 tomorrow) with my middle sister

funeral day

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After a horrible night of strong gales, we woke up to a fine bright day. It was Uncle Lionel’s funeral day. On the way to the church, I saw clusters of daffodils here and there, it’s a sign that Spring is well on its way. Such a glorious day (Alhamdulillah) but tinged with a bit of sadness as we paid our last respects to our dear neighbour, Uncle Lionel. He passed away so suddenly almost 3 weeks ago, the coroner confirmed that it was due to cardiac arrest, his 90-year-old heart had simply stopped. Somehow I feel a bit better knowing he had died in his sleep, not from a heart attack as everyone had thought in the beginning. There were about 30 people at the simple but beautiful service; Uncle Lionel’s relatives, his old friends, acquaintances, his former neighbour and wife (whose house we bought) and us; my hubby, our middle daughter and myself. I had to choke back tears when his coffin was brought in, followed by his relatives who were all teary.

His beloved grand-nephew (our age) whom we’ve befriended gave a lovely tribute, relating his sweet memories with his grand-uncle during his lifetime. I’ve also learnt today that Uncle Lionel was in the army during World War 2, he fought in the Far East. Makes me wonder whether he was in my homeland which was known as Malaya at that time. Before we knew it, the funeral service was over and a classical song which he loved was played whilst his coffin was carried out for burial at the cemetery. He was to be buried on top of his beloved younger brother who passed away 8 years ago. We then went out to pay our condolences to the mourners; his niece (in her 60s) and his grand-nieces who helped took care of him in his final years. His only grand-nephew then re-appeared (he helped carry the coffin in and back to the hearse) and shook hands with my hubby, he was really grateful that we had come. Uncle Lionel was a good soul, we’ve been very privileged to have him as our neighbour for the last 3.5 years. Our middle daughter, our most sensitive child, had said that she’ll ask God to grant her wish to see Uncle Lionel once again when she gets to Heaven. She truly misses him. Farewell Uncle Lionel, the precious memories shall remain. I shall never forget you and Winter’s end 2014…

,uh

the church where the funeral service was held

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my hubby and daughter as we arrived for the service

white lilies decorated his coffin

white lilies decorated his coffin (courtesy of Google images)

mg

leaving the church, a bit sad

he was in a hearse very similar to this one (courtesy of Google images)

he was in a hearse very similar to this one, daffodils have also appeared like in here (courtesy of Google images)

bou

to God we belong and to God we shall return

R.I.P. Uncle Lionel

Uncle Lionel shall be missed

UNCLE LIONEL’S FINAL SONG…

happy times

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LIFE IS 10% WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU AND 90% HOW YOU RESPOND TO IT.

ALWAYS FIND A REASON TO SMILE.

REMEMBER THAT LIFE IS FULL OF UPS AND DOWNS. WITHOUT THE DOWNS, THE UPS WOULD MEAN NOTHING.

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all well, wherever you may be. Do you believe in the saying ‘Time heals?’ And ‘This too, shall pass?’ I believe they hold true in everyone’s lives, there is light at the end of the tunnel after each difficult event we face. One cannot remain miserable for a long time, sooner or later there will be a reason to smile. Alhamdulillah, I’m starting to feel more like myself again, ever since my neighbour passed away 2 weeks ago I’ve been a tad sad. But such is life, one minute you feel like you’re on top of the world, the next minute you hit rock bottom. The main thing is to learn to pick yourself up once more, having loved ones and close friends you can confide in truly helps. And learning to forgive yourself is extremely crucial, especially for sensitive souls like me. Life is constantly changing, nothing stays the same for very long. I must learn to adapt and go with the flow, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Let it go, as they say! No point beating myself up over stuff that has happened, some things are just not meant to be. How long can one live with regret?

Anyway, I thought I would blog about happy moments this time around. What came straight to mind was weddings of course. I love looking at wedding photos where everyone’s dressed up, happy and smiling. I’ve attended many family weddings (hubby’s side) over the 16.5 years I’ve been married and living in England. They’ve all been very festive and joyous, I’ve enjoyed them immensely. I do miss attending Malay weddings though, it’s been ages since I’ve been to one. Just waiting for my sisters to pull their act together now for some wedding bells to ring! I’ve selected several of my family photos below from the recent weddings we’ve attended over the past couple of years, blissful moments which have made us smile. Hope you’ll like them, a slice of my life here! Enough tears for now, let us cheer up and smile some, yeah!

🙂

 

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moon river

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the lone tulip at uncle lionel's last spring

the lone tulip at uncle lionel’s last spring

My 90 year old next door neighbour, Uncle Lionel, passed away suddenly last Wednesday. It came as a shock to us all, namely his few relatives who cared for his daily well-being and us, his immediate neighbour. Uncle Lionel was never married, he lived alone in his house since his younger brother died 8 years ago (also a bachelor) at 79 years of age (of illness). Uncle Lionel had lived in the house next door since he was 12 years old. When we first moved to our house 3.5 years ago, we didn’t have much interaction with him. He kept to himself, we hardly saw him. Some even said he was rather unfriendly. But my hubby and children knocked on his door from time to time to chat with him. Little by little, they broke the ice. Although he lived alone, we didn’t worry too much about him as he had a few relatives (niece and grand nephews/grand nieces) who visited and phoned him regularly. Now and then I would ask my son to pop round his house with a box of chocolates, cakes or biscuits. In Summer/Autumn we would pluck his fruits in the allotment for him. He never went out much at all, unless his relatives took him away on Christmas or other special occasions. I have only spoken to him a couple of times, during the rare moments when he was stood in his driveway saying goodbye to his relatives or when in the garden with another relative who helped maintain his derelict property.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite certain how to treat him. He seemed aloof, a private person, yet I knew he must be rather lonely. I started giving him cards and chocolates at Christmas, I tried to reach out to him further. There were many times when he wouldn’t answer the door, even though he was in. My hubby and my son would knock repeatedly but would fail to speak to him. It would frustrate us at times. But we put it down to his slight hearing loss, of having fallen asleep with the TV on or simply too slow to move about particularly if he had been upstairs. It could also be because he was afraid to open the door sometimes, after all he was a vulnerable old man living alone. I remember how my hubby helped call the police and comforted him one night when a drunken man tried to smash down his front door. We couldn’t blame him for not answering his door at all as much as we would have liked him too. Recently, however, Uncle Lionel seemed to reach out to us. We couldn’t deliver his Christmas card and chocolates personally as he didn’t answer the door as usual despite many attempts. We slipped the card through his door and left it at that. We were surprised to hear a couple of phone messages from him when we returned from my in-laws at New Year’s. He mumbled something about missing our visit and the children. We didn’t think much of it, though we were quite surprised that he actually called us (first time). Weather then went downhill; cold, wet, windy and it got dark by 4pm. My family also came down with colds and coughs one by one this Winter. But I could still hear Uncle Lionel next door, as I’ve done for the past 3.5 years. I’ve always listened out for him. His TV would be on, his favourite songs would be playing, his voice could be heard on the phone.

Until that persistent knock that came late last wintry Wednesday night, with the voice of his grand nephew who told me Uncle Lionel had passed away in his living room with the TV on, possibly due to a heart attack. I woke my hubby up from sleep (still recovering from fever) and he rushed next door to be with Uncle Lionel’s relatives. He came home a while later and we made tea for them. He stayed with them till past midnight, after the undertaker’s been and gone. I looked through my bedroom window with silent tears and said goodbye to Uncle Lionel as I watched him being driven away. For the past week I’ve been really down; I feel so sad and guilty. I know I wouldn’t have been able to prevent his death, he was meant to go at the appointed time as ordained by God. But how I wish I could have put a smile on his face one last time before he died. His relatives told us how he had actually bought some fruits for my children when he called us at New Year’s. We never went round to pick them up. His relatives also told us how he often spoke fondly of us as a family, I believe he was actually warming up to us finally after being neighbours for a few years. We’re from different cultures and backgrounds, I suppose it took some time for us to get close to one another. I can’t turn back the clock, nor can I wish for more time to be an extra attentive neighbour to Uncle Lionel. But I shall always remember this episode in my life, I’ll never forget the sweet old Englishman next door who has taught me several of life’s valuable lessons. Farewell Uncle Lionel, you shall remain in our hearts for many years to come. I’m playing your song now, the one I hear blaring from your CD player every afternoon without fail, the song I myself sang with all my heart during music lessons at boarding school 3 decades ago…

brixham-torquay

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Greetings everyone! Still dull and gloomy where I am I’m afraid, with lashings of rain and howling winds! Occasionally the weak sun peeks out, enough for my little ones to ride their scooter and tricycle in the garden for a wee while. Then it goes all dark by 5 p.m. Many cities and towns in the South West of England and South Wales have been badly hit by this stormy weather. It is a very miserable time indeed for many. Oh, how I long for Spring to come soon! Seems ages yet! I then went through my summer holiday photos, they always make me smile. Happy memories with a promising hope, Inshallah (God Willing), will return to South Devon in Summer. We’ve fallen in love with this beautiful part of England, don’t mind going back there every Summer for a family holiday. So beautiful, relaxing, laid-back, peaceful. The ideal English holiday for me personally. I somehow find it hard to believe that the sea we visited last summer is really rough at the moment. Truly hope this stormy weather will end soon, Inshallah. Well, this time around I will share images from our visit to the seaside towns of Brixham and Torquay. We took the ferry from Brixham to Torquay and back again, it was a longer journey than the one we took from Kingswear to Dartmouth (featured in my earlier holiday posts). We had a truly memorable time indeed, let me now take you through our experience via the picture gallery below. Hope you’ll like them!