I was pretty much brought up by “3 grandparents”. “Uncle Pang” (no blood relations) was like my 3rd grandparent. My 3 grandparents were pretty much the ones who bundled me up for school and Uncle Pang chauffeured me around most of the time. He worked at our factory during the day, washed, cooked and took care of my siblings and I when the rest of the family were away, took care of the python that decided to take refuge in our house toilet when we returned from an extended road trip visiting relatives, amongst many other things. He was always neat in appearance, courteous and punctual.
Loyalty and a heart of gold
I think it takes a really special personality to be possessed of such dedication and being able to work and be a family friend for more than 50 years. When my grandfather died, he stayed on, took care of my grandmother and my grandfather’s place and even paid for the mortgage and maintenance! When my grandmother was dying, he spent more time than anyone else taking care of her and visiting her at the hospital.
He was reserved, spoke little and despite the hard work, he’s never once complained nor let his family matters affect his work. I only found out about his paranoid schizophrenic brother when I asked to visit him at his home after retirement, and he proposed we meet downstairs at the coffeeshop.
Always thinking for others
I was supposed to visit him this week and when he was hospitalised, he was worried I might pop by and find no one there, so he got his niece to drop me a message to say he’s been hospitalised and that it wasn’t a big deal. I visited him at the hospital regardless and he seemed to be in good condition and good spirits until his shocking sudden departure. He was a Catholic who disliked imposing on others and even upon death, he requested for his ashes to be scattered at Pulau Ubin… I presume it was in part to ensure there was no need for future tomb clearing, niche rental etc.
Mr. Pang Seng Kow was born on 29 December 1940 and passed away on the 8 August 2018. His departure made me realise how little I know of the man’s history apart from obvious things like he was born Malaysian and was Hakka like my maternal grandmother. What I know for sure though, was that in word and deed, he was a role model and an old-school gentleman. His funeral was a simple brief affair attended by his long-lost but recently found nieces and nephew. There were no eulogies, no tributes and not even a portrait of him (he was always reserved and never really one for photos). He may have been my grandfather’s employee and de facto live-in family butler but Uncle Pang was to me, more family than family.
Requiescat in pace.