It's been three whole years...

Hey Di,

I’m not counting but it’s been three whole years since you left us and I still miss you dearly.

I have two books; My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People,
Rich Heritage [Left] and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting
Places and Inspirational People [Right]
A great deal has happened since the success of, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, my book which was launched on 15 July 2017.  

Following its success, I was encouraged by Think City to work on its sequel and I remember how Dr Neil Khor suggested to expand the contents to include stories from other districts.

This made me think about the many places that I discovered while I went “travelling” with you to destinations that were once obscure but are now more connected and well developed with residential and industrial areas.

I recalled places like Kong Kong and kampung Kong Kong Laut, Telok Jawa and Telok Sengat and how Kenny and I, used to explore the rubber estates and fishing jetties while you dispensed medicine to the villagers.

My books displayed in the window of
MPH bookstore, Johor Baru City Square
We were fearless – unperturbed by the sights and sounds of rustic village life – and where bright sunshine, drizzles or encounters with small creatures and insects did nothing to dampen our outdoor fun.

Working on Book 2 was challenging in its own way and I’m grateful for the support of Think City and MPH Publishing, and a host of friends who helped me through this project.

To meet with people for their stories, I had to travel to various parts of Johor. These drives were comfortable through the Plus North-South Highway and now we have the convenience of satellite maps which can be accessed through the smartphone.

I remember how you used to drive us from Johor Baru to Ipoh and Cameron Highlands for year-end holidays via the scenic route. Back then, the drive was from dawn to dusk!

But now the drives are just a breeze even off the Highway because the maps can lead me right to the doorstep of the address in my destination!

Mum, holding her walking stick, with
Aunty Polly, going to my book launch
You were close in my thoughts as I prepared the manuscript for the sequel because – just as in the first book – book two is a tribute to you.

While I was happy to work on the continuing family stories under Memories, the fun of sharing the tales was tinged with sadness because you are not here.

A lot is different in your absence but I’m sure you will be pleased that mum and all of us are coping with the changes.

Mum feels weakness in her legs so when we take her to the mall, she would be wheeled about comfortably on the wheelchair.

On regular outings to church and grocery shopping at the regular market shop, I will drive here and she will use the walking stick for support.

I bought her a light-weight stick because the cane that you used, is too long for her height and she said it feels too heavy.

I have reasoned with her, not to be shy about using the walking stick because it is for her own comfort and support.

A precious old document that has
your hand-writing on it!
I explained in the unfortunate event of a fall, she will just suffer pain and discomfort, so she finally accepted the fact that the use of a walking stick is the best option for her.

For the launch event for My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, Aunty Polly and Uncle Steven joined us in Johor Baru to enjoy my community-centered celebration.

Dad, you would have enjoyed the Mee Rebus Haji Wahid that was served from a live cooking station, very much like the way you arranged for them to serve at our home parties.

It tasted of pure nostalgia and Aunty Polly confessed that she had two bowls of the tasty mee rebus!

I think you would also have enjoyed the Lucky Draw where my guests won for themselves, vouchers and gifts that were generously contributed by the subjects featured in my book.

The top two prizes – in my opinion – were the traditional cotton-stuffed pillow and bolster, contributed by Sin Keng Wah Kedai Tilam.

From family album: Ruby, Kenny, Pearly and I [L to R];
Your daughters playing dress-up with mum's cheong sam
while your son intruded upon us!
In my story, I referred to an old receipt from Fei Leong that we discovered among your collection of ancient documents.

This is so precious because I read your handwriting written on this receipt that it was dated 1988 and the note-to-self read: “Cotton mattress for Peggy’s bed.”

Fei Leong no longer exists but this old receipt inspired me to seek out Sin Keng Wah because they are the only one left in JB who are still in this business here!

In those days, all our mattresses were cotton-stuffed and I remember how comfortable your three daughters did sleep, even in our shared, non-air conditioned room.

Speaking about your other two daughters, they are both grandmothers now – one in the UK and the other in Australia. This would make you a proud great-grandfather of three and counting (the next should arrive in mid-2019!)

Your son and favourite (and only!) daughter-in-law are also doing well, especially with their adventurous hill-climbing hobby.

After they had conquered the peaks in East Malaysia, they reached the summit of live volcanoes in Indonesia and just completed their recent climb in Hong Kong!
. . .

Soo Kok Wah presenting a book to me
while Soo Kok Tai looks on
Last year, I embarked on a project to write the English version of a Chinese publication of a book on the heritage of the Soo Peng Hang Press, one of the early family-run print businesses in JB.

When I was approached to do this by Yap Leong of the Eh He team, one of the reasons I happily accepted the challenge was because your first job was as a typesetter with a printing company in Ipoh!

I vividly recalled how you described Mr Wilson and his strict ways. He did not like older boys to be idle and soon after you completed your school years, you went out and found yourself a job with this printing company.

The Soo brothers, Soo Kok Wah and Soo Kok Tai, shared briefly about the early history of their father, Soo Peng Hang, and it was uncanny that the elder Soo once worked with a printing company in Ipoh too!

He was much senior to you but I guess it was possible that you both worked with the same printing company in Ipoh but only that you joined the team in later years …

A photo of the screen with my portrait and quote on it!
It was indeed my honour and privilege to work on this book that recorded the heritage of Soo Peng Hang Press, so that Chinese who do not read Chinese, can read about it in the English language.

At the recent book launch event, the organizer introduced the key people involved with the project with a portrait photo and a brief quote in Chinese, posted on the backdrop screen for guests to read.

I was also privileged to write a Foreword in this book, from which this quote was taken.

I chose to use my brand identity for My Johor Stories with my name, Peggy Loh, and when it was flashed on the screen, my quote (in English!) read like this: “As I looked at the photos, I felt a strange connection as my thoughts raced to my dad. My dad told me that his first job was as a typesetter with a printing press in Ipoh.”

It felt surreal to read these words on the screen and there seated in the front row (unknown to every one), I was momentarily overcome by a sudden rush of emotion.
. . .

Once again we marked the third anniversary of your departure with a meal at Niniq Javanese Cuisine in Taman Molek.

Grilled chicken sandwich and mushroom
soup at Niniq Javanese Cuisine, in your
loving memory
Upon my request, the café has added to their Indonesian cuisine menu, your favourite mushroom soup and grilled chicken sandwich made with focaccia bread!

So mum and I, along with Soke Har, had lunch at Niniq Javanese Cuisine with a taste of mushroom soup and grilled chicken sandwich, in your loving memory.
. . .

The Lunar New Year season is upon us again and while the mall windows are dressed in Red and the festive music sings, “Kongxi-Kongxi Kongxi Ni!” it’s just not the same without you.

Just as it was for Christmas, in spite of the happy reunion when all come together to celebrate with gatherings and feasts, it will never be the same again.

So each year for each festive season, we try to do things a bit differently to make new traditions and memories.

You will be delighted to know that Aaron and his wife will be coming to join us from Perth and Pearly will be here from the UK. And yes, Amanda is back here already!

We love and miss you so much, Di.
Your daughter No. 3, P.

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