I had my childhood in a busy street in Bandung, a hop, skip and a jump away from the local wet market. Mum managed the store that grandma bequeathed to my dad after she passed away in 1978. We sold anything from all kinds of rolled tobacco and cigarettes, sugar, to biscuits and soaps – we even had blocks of incense that used to fascinate me. The neighbouring store sold all kinds of building material, and next to it, was the local police station. Separating the busy wet market and the police station was a small street, and I remember there was a slaughterhouse on the street as well, quite close to the market. I grew up with the sound and smell of life from the market, and the sound of death as they slaughtered cows nearby, or witnessed how my mum would valiantly catch and kill a chicken from the coop on top of our shophouse, whenever we had something to celebrate.
I learned about death and loss from an early age, having lost my grandma when I was young. Having grown up with pets, I also learned about death from losing my cats through all kinds of accidents and mishaps. The lessons of life and death were very much put to the sidelines as I busied myself with my study and career. In recent years, I reluctantly faced it again with the loss of my younger brother in 2008 and my dad in 2011. As I get older, I have come to realise that I am in a long queue to face my own finale here on earth. There will be others who follow my footsteps in becoming globetrotting executives – I have started to see that in some of my younger friends from Adelaide who are now busy building their career in Indonesia and other countries. I’ve used my turn. Other people will stay in my house and call it their home, years after I move on. The baton that I took from the previous owner, will be passed on to the next generation. The younger generations will see more changes to Adelaide, Australia, Indonesia and the rest of the world. I may live long to see some of the changes, but I will never live long enough to witness all of them.
The reason for the sombre thought is not just the cold, grey winter’s day in Adelaide.
A member of our church congregation lost her husband last night to bowel cancer. He had been fighting for a while and life finally let go of him. Admittedly I don’t know him all that well – his friends and family attested to his great character. I could only remember how he would drive his wife over to church and then pick her up again later. I heard from the Pastor that he had some issues with churches in general in the past. It saddens me when the church in general – that is meant to provide light and life to the people – ends up being a stumbling block and a symbol of pain for many people. The folks at church have been praying for him and his family as well. I fully understood how dire the situation was for him, and could only pray that God’s will be done. I’ve lived life long enough to appreciate and submit to His authority.
I visited him at the hospital last Saturday along with the Pastor and some folks from church – he was still conscious then but was really weak and couldn’t speak coherently anymore. Now he has finished his turn and passed the baton to the next generation. The funeral will be on Tuesday next week.
Rest in peace, Andy.