Mr. Lim Kim Ngee

1913 – 1990
home improvement, gardening, humming chinese songs
WRITTEN BY: Jimmy Sy Lim
It has been many years since the passing of my dad in 1990.  My dad and mom had nine kids.  I am the youngest of nine.  How they wanted and manage to have such a big family and kept everyone fed is beyond me.  Where they find the time….they did not have directv or the internet then!

He was born in Shantou in Southern China and found his way to Malaya, settled there with my mom and had 6 of the kids and then Singapore where Grace, Bob and myself were born.

They had a small provision shop for a while and then folded when business was bad.  He became a cook at a cafeteria at an Adventist school in Singapore.

Some of my memories include him watering the fruit trees and plants in our backyard.  He would scoop the water out of the pond with a home made pole and bucket.  We had a huge jackfruit tree, papayas the size of which I have never since seen in over fifty years! I remember him gracefully getting on his bicycle and coming home from work.  On occasions, he would take me to school on his bicycle all the while humming some chinese tunes under his breadth.  He was a strong and resourceful man, pretty stubborn and when he was not at work, he was a handyman building things around the house.  One time, he built a wooden patio by himself in one day and then tore it up the next.  I don’t know if my mom had some input after he had built it.  There was no such thing as a building permit and he built an extension on the house overlooking the ponds.  You could hear noises at night and awake to the chirping birds and the neighborhood roosters.  It was awesome!

I was told he smoked when he was younger.  As long as I remember, he did not.  As to vices, money was tight and he never indulged in anything.  He hated gambling and I was told he had almost lost his dowry for my mom and he swore never to gamble!  I remember the family including my mom would play cards on Chinese New Year and when Dad came home, everyone would split because he disapproved.

I don’t remember being disciplined by him except once.  Home was the domain of my mom.  When my mom died, Dad continued to be hands off.

When my older siblings became independent, they all provided for my Dad and I.  We moved from our rural home to a flat in Ang Mo Kio.  By now, my siblings had kids and Dad would spend time with the grandkids.  He was diabetic and I would have to give him his daily insulin shot.

In 1985, Ed took my dad and I to China to visit with his long separated sister who remainded with her family in Shantou on our way to the US as new immigrants.  He was semi wheelchaired bound but got to see his sister and we visited Beijing, Guilin and traveled China by plane, trains, bus and by boat.  It was hard on him but he was a trooper!

Dad finally settled in here.  By now he was frail and forgetful.  I was newly married and Penny spent the most time with Dad, taking care of him and cooking for him.  For that I am eternally grateful! Dad would answer the front door and he would speak Malay to the Hispanic person who ran the doorbell mistaking them for the Malays that he used to interact with in Malaysia and Singapore!

He left us in 1990.  I wish he could see more and enjoy more.  A growing family with more extensions.  Grandkids and great grandkids across two continents maybe more in the future.  The legacy of a simple quiet man cannot be forgotten and I write this in remembrance of my dad.

Shantou
USA
Keng, Ed, Heang, Tony, Chu, Lee, Grace, Bob and Jimmy(kids). Serene, Hua, Boon, Patrick, Desmurn, Wendy, Alicia, Lindy,Timothy, Daniel, Duane, Sophia, Carrie, Geraldine, Jeremy, Genie, Laura, Delaney, Danica (grand kids)

 

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