God looked around his garden
And found an empty space;
He then looked down upon this earth
And saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you
And lift you to rest,
God’s garden must be beautiful,
He only takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering,
He knew you were in pain.
He knew you might never
Get well upon this earth again.
He saw the road was getting rough
And the hills were hard to climb,
So He whispered, “Peace be thine”
It broke our hearts to lose you,
But you never went alone,
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.
Andy was born 07/27/1950, from parents of modest means. He has two older brothers and three younger sisters.
His parents were adolescents growing up near the end of the Second World War. His father a high school drop out, his mother a child bride married into her young husband’s family. Life was not extremely difficult, rather it was from hand to mouth, day by day.
I remember him as a skinny little kid who like to cry a lot, her mother was busy with working odd jobs to supplementing her husband’s meagre income as a sales man. The oldest boy ended up living with the paternal grandparent, living a few kilometre away. Andy did not have much of a childhood as the majority of us normally have these day, there was no birthday parties, no play dates.
He almost always ended up entertaining by himself, as he was the third child in a succession of six children, three young sisters joined the family tree. Those days the oldest child always takes care of the rest of the brood. Everyone has their chores in the household, forget about weekly allowance, you will be lucky if you find enough food on the table. Pop and candy was a rare treat.
Fast forward to Andy’s teenager years, the best I remember, Andy grew up in his adolescence years helping his dad’s fledging business, he worked full time as a swapper in his dad’s delivery truck. And going to school in the evening to upgrade his schooling.
This goes on for years until dad’s business went into receivership, he was no longer required to be enslaved as a free labor for his dad. He got an opportunity to immigrate to Canada, and took the big leap. He trained as a pastry chef in a bake shop back home, jobs in pastry shops around town were kind of slim picking, so he reinvented himself, became a certified welder.
Andy had made many new friends, and moved on to Calgary for a new life, I watched from the side line, I felt happy for him. My children adored him, he bought a Camaro and a Kawasaki motorcycle, when they visited him in the summer holidays in Cow Town, they had a blast. They still remember his Camaro has “Yellow Roses of Texas” as a hone tune.
When my kids were teens, Andy grew restless, and moved back to his native Hong Kong to work, he was in his 30’s then, jobs came to a person when your field is in demand, he became a salesman with a local firm which specialized in welding material and steel products. Time flew by, fast forward to 2011 winter, he moved back to live in Vancouver after a health scare, the family in Vancouver welcomed him back with open arms.
As was in any big transitions in life, his coming back was not without its ups and downs, the simple basic difference between East and West, Hong Kong and Vancouver, HK one can get by without a set of wheels to get around quite nicely, not so in Vancouver. Even he has been driving since eighteen. Andy had to retake his road test twice, third time lucky, and when he finally got his BC license in his hot little hands, him and I were ever so happy. The license episode taught both of us a lesson, Old Man Time never play any favourite for no body. We grow old as time goes by.
He was trying very hard to get a welding related job, I rooted for him, he kept pounding the pavements, ideal jobs were few and far in between, until once he told me in exasperation, “ Sid, the truth of the matter is, when the welding helmet drops in front of my face, I can’t see! “
It was then I understood that perhaps he would have to make do with what ever he could find as far as jobs are concern.
My siblings in my family are always positive and forward thinking, when life gave you a lemon, make lemondade. He worked odd jobs to make ends meet, yet he never forget to give his nephew and niece the best when it comes to Chrismas and holidays, no matter how tight money was for him. We went out for lunch two , three times a month. Holiday seasons we always have a chair with his name on it. He was always welcome in our family functions.
Then one day just before Chinese New Year rolls around, we phoned him and wanted him to come for dinner. He never picked up the phone, then I remembered a few days back he said he had problems with his cell phone. Three days passed, and I went checked on him. I found him passed away in his apartment. The world would never know the grief, regret, self direct anger, that I felt at that moment after we open his apartment door. If God was present at that moment, I didn’t think He could give me an answer that was satisfactory to me.
Here lies the body of my brother, his Chinese name was Chung Kwan, him and I picked the name Andy as his legal name in his new adopted country when he arrived. We created Andy, now Andy was gone. We found him at noon, I went through the scenerios with the paramedics, the police, the detectives, and the coroner’s representative, by the time the Victim Services people asked me what can they do for me to make my life at that moment a bit bearable. I said to the police officer,” Would you please come to my mother’s apartment with me, I don’t know how to put it to our mother that one of his sons is gone. When she sees your uniform, she will understand” He did, and my mother did.
Andy’s passing is officially on 2014/ January 20th, I still miss him every day, I went over in my mind again and again, “ What should I have done differently? If I offered him my spare cell phone? If I have a pass key of his place? If I told him that his medications must be taken regularly? “
All the “what ifs” !
Andy, you have gone to a better place now, but you are not forgotten, you came to the new world to escape the grip of the old ways from the old world. You have done well, you left a mark in all of our hearts, we will always cherish you in our hearts, til we meet again.