Today was the 28th anniversary of my maternal grandpa’s passing. Every year, my mom’s family flies in to Singapore from various corners of the world (Indonesia, Malaysia, U.S., Canada, Hong Kong) at this time to visit my grandpa’s grave and to have a reunion. I have fond memories of these gatherings, especially since I had so many younger cousins left in my care during the planning meetings the adults took part in. John, being the eldest grandson, would lead the boys on one imaginary adventure after another, while the girls and babies were left for me to entertain.
It’s been 7 years since I was last in Singapore for the Halim family reunion, and things are really different with all the kids grown up. The youngest of my cousins, Brian, is already 8 yrs old, and Kenneth (who used to be my favourite cousin when he was a toddler cos he was so fun to play with) is a 1.86m tall 18yr old giant. With so many of the 18 grandchildren studying abroad or in the midst of exams, our gathering this year was a relatively small one. But, those of us who were present were still made to sing (I couldn’t believe that the grown-up grandchildren still had to sing!) as we always used to do.
After morning mass and a visit to my grandpa’s tomb, our entourage of 6 cars made brief visits to the three houses where my mom and her siblings used to live when they were studying in Singapore. Stories of my 7 aunts’ and uncles’ childhood antics peppered our stops at each of the houses to the grandchildren’s delight. “This was where Auntie Ting & Uncle Ming let out the air to our tutor’s car tyres…” “I used to pour the milk out of the window after wetting my lips with it so grandma would think I’ve drunk it…” I also found out along with my 15 yr old cousin who is in Sec 3 at Nanyang Girls’ High that all our aunts who had studied in Singapore went to Nanyang Girls High. I hadn’t known that before…although I had known that both my uncles had studied at The Chinese High School back in the 60s.
After a fabulous lunch of Thai sharks-fin at Goodwood Park Hotel’s Thai Village Restaurant with the family, Zibin treated me, John, Cathy and three of my young cousins (and I do mean young…14, 15 and 18 yrs) to Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire (I shall refrain from any ‘review’-type comments here regarding the movie as I think I kind of got carried away with my last movie-related blog entry :P Should you wish to know my thoughts on HP though, you’re more than welcome to ask).
It has been a long but interesting day. Even as I make this entry, most of the Halim family have already left Singapore for home. However, watching their interaction all day (including dinner yesterday), I now realize where my penchant for story-telling and teasing comes from. Although I think I can now hold my own with my aunts and uncles at the ‘suanning’ game, I was still thankful that at this gathering at least, it was John who got all the teasing. You see, it was the first time that they met little ‘Johnny’s girlfriend. I think Cathy had fun, despite being called ‘the newest recruit’ by my Uncle Henry, a title that Zibin was more than happy to relinquish to Cathy.