Sunday, October 29, 2017

Until We Meet Again

Having more than your share of siblings doesn't dull the pain of losing one of them. We said goodbye to another brother a few days ago. One day he was fine and the next day he was gone forever. The suddenness shocked us but we don't want to wallow in grief or regret for things undone, for words unsaid.

So we celebrate Morris's life and treasure the precious memories we share. We thank God for sending us this amazing person to be part of our family.

He was a middle child and was born one month before I turned six. I remember carrying him in a sarong strapped onto my back. I remember watching him him sleep and making sure the bigger kids didn't disturb him.

Whereas most babies normally crawl before walking, Morris never did. He just sat on the floor and used his legs to drag his bum forward so he could go exploring all over our one-room home. One day nobody noticed he was missing from the house. A car (which was very rare those long-ago days) honked on the dirt road in front of the Penampang Police Station where we lived. We all stuck our heads out the single front window of our house.  And there was Morris toddling alone on the road. At the grand age of two he was on his first real adventure!

There were many adventures after that first one. School was one long adventure. Like all of us older siblings, Morris was sent away from home to live with relatives so we could have a 'better' education than what our kampung school could offer.

When he had passed the SPM he went on another adventure. This time it was across the South China Sea to study Radiography. On his first visit home he surprised me with a huge, framed batik painting and a beautiful fruit bowl--- I still have both today--- to show his gratitude ( I had always thought) for having given him some money before leaving that first time.

Morris was the not-talkative one among us siblings. He did things quietly, without fanfare, without expecting pats on the back. He saw things that needed to be done and he frequently did them quietly: giving a loan so a relative could go to college; donating his blood to a family member; chiding a farmhand for poor work etc.

He sat as Chairman in our Family Meetings and never complained that he was tired of the added responsibility he had been holding forever... unlike me who complained that seven years was too long to be the family Treasurer.

At 61 he had enjoyed but one year of retirement after serving the community in various government hospitals. There is still so much to look forward to. He was going to build a house nestled in the trees on a hill so far from the city that he'd wake up to misty mornings. He was going to meet the members of our extended family and trace our paternal family tree up to our great-grandfather, the mysterious Laksamana Dulamit. His son had just left to continue his education on the other side of the world. He was going on more picnics and adventures with family and friends. He was going to be more relaxed and feel comfortable sharing silly jokes and singing funny Dusun songs... It's a long list.

Although we mourn his passing we celebrate our brother's life and remind ourselves that almost 20 years ago he had a serious health issue. He fought the beast and won. We will remember him with fondness and try to emulate his example: be good, be generous and charitable, don't pass the buck, persevere when faced with life's challenges, be humble.

Until we meet again...

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