Ah Hea and Alan put it together very well, the reason for the gathering. The reason for the celebration was we didn't want to wait for some wake service to eulogize our feelings and appreciation for Mr. Ling. We wanted him to know that all these years, all that he stood and worked for; we the ex-MYFers are in a way, his kids too, his family. It took a lot of love to do what he and a bunch of other counsellors did for us.
The oldest MYF batch came from 1962 (yes, there are now ancients among us) and the babies of the group were those born in 1978. Only one batch had no representative, 1967 if I'm not wrong. One would wonder how a group with such a big age gap can come together with such familiarity and warmth. I guess one only will if he went through what we shared together as a group, one that often times transcended beyond the limits of our own years. I met up with Lui again, 5 years my junior. She was my pianist at our wedding. Both Other Half and I wanted to spend as little as possible for our wedding (money wasn't something we had a lot of those days) and these younger MYFers pitched in and did almost everything for us! I will always remember their gestures of love.
We are a blessed lot. Blessed by the likes of him... Mrs. Tay, Mrs. Tan, Ms. Ling, Ms Teoh, Ms. Tan, Mr. Leong and many others who enabled these people to be a blessing to us. They are the embodiment of grace extended to us because of their humility and a willingness, driven by a love for God. They challenged us, humoured us, gave us chances and ultimately changing our lives. Each one of us owed a little of ourselves in varying degrees to this outpouring of love from them.
As Alan, one of the organizers for this dinner said.... Each one of us who was there that night are where we are today in part because of him (and the others). The hours that he, together with the rest of the counsellors gave us.... They listened, imparted wisdom, became our sounding boards for so many issues including our choices of life partners for some and occasionally even our shoulders to cry on in those tumultous teenage years. Problems big or small, they listened and helped each of us struggled through, not just in words but presence too.
They provided us a place to hang out - the House of Grace. It was a place where we studied, played and hung out. Grace extended in a house built on grace. This was later continued when some of us moved on. In PJ, it took shape in the form of Happy Mansion, an apartment which became home away from home for some, back in those days when we were still looking for our footing. Having solid friends around in those years was good for us. I spent quite a bit of time there, at Happy Mansion. The apartment was always opened to anyone who needed a roof over their head in PJ, for various reasons. Bro was one of the occupants and hence my reason for parking myself there. And its occupants continued to help each other along, sharing as how we've always been taught and shown. Later on, when some of them moved down to Singapore, Peace Tower came about. So from House of Grace to Happy Mansion and then Peace Tower, a little bit of MYF Sitiawan went with us. And throughout the years, the spirit of sharing remained with most of us. In Bangi, a group of them rented an apartment and it too was always opened to visitors.
And so that night, even his sister was amazed by the turnout; the fact that so many from far and near attended because he meant something to us. Like Bersih, we went on our own accord. We wanted to be there. A meaningful weekend. In my life, I've only seen such a gathering twice, the first being Other Half's grandmother. When she celebrated her 100th birthday, people came from far and near too. And you know what, she was also a godly woman, one who gave her life to God's service. She once worked with the young ones too.... and she too was a teacher. Teachers are important. Good teachers make a great deal of difference. Teachers like Mr. Ling KN, Mrs. Moses Tay, Mrs. Tan YH, Mr. Leong CS leave indellible marks in the lives they touch.
My kids do not get to enjoy such kind of growing up years that we had. We were an inclusive group, always reminded not to be exclusive. Everyone was important. Usefulness was not measured by how much talent one had. Service was not indicated by how ready one was. Instead, we moved together, making sure that our weakest link stayed as steady as our strongest ones. And Mr. Ling played a huge role in that too, watching out for these 'else-who-would-have-been-forgotten-kids'. He made them feel special. And when they ran into trouble with their studies, he helped them. Many of us went through our school and university years doing that. The older ones would coach the younger ones who needed it. More often than never, it's not just the subject content that mattered so much. It's the coming together, and encouragement and knowing that someone cared that mattered more. Those things can make us move mountains, dig deeper into our reserves to get to the goal. Every time we went for our hiking session during camps - be it up Gunung Beremban, Penang Hill or Fraser's Hill, we were constantly reminded that we were only as strong as our weakest link. So we included and grew together.... I wish my kids can have that sort of experience.
And that is why so many of us are successful today.... And Mr. Ling has continued to live up to challenges. He retired from teaching and picked up accounting. He is now a CPA! How not to be inspired when you have a gung-ho counsellor who used to tells us everything is possible and he goes on to show us a career change after retirement! 8)