My Eulogy for Dad

This Eulogy was read on June 25, 2014 during my father’s service.

On behalf of my mother Pui King, my brother Ken, my sister Cheryl, and myself, we thank you for taking this time to gather with us in remembering our father Buck Wan. There are few specific people that we would like to thank – Sui Ling Wong, and her son Ming for travelling all the way from Toronto to attend this day. Michelle Pan and all of the palliative care team were so supportive. A big gratitude to Joanne, my sister in law, as well as my brother in law Wesley, and to my cousin Fung for going above and beyond in helping us during a very stressful time. We would also like to give a special thanks to Denny Yu, for his invaluable generosity, presence and energy during our father’s illness. My father was so comforted when you were around. Thank you so much Denny.

I am eternally grateful to my brave niece Lauren, who contacted me early enough in time which enabled me the opportunity to see Dad just before he left.

My dad, he was man with incredible energy, curiosity, beliefs and devotion. He was a man who definitely made his opinions clear and knew exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it. There was nothing ambiguous about him. My dad comes from a special generation of immigrant Chinese who led storied lives of hardship and heartaches. As with many of his fellow immigrant males from Canton, he maintained a single minded determination to create a beautiful life for himself, his wife and kids. He fought hard but he loved affectionately and tenderly. He was a fighter from the beginning to the end. Even as a kid in China, he was already known as someone not to be messed around with.

With this fighting spirit, he overcame and survived the period of the Sino- Japanese war, where he witnessed unspeakable barbaric atrocities and cruelties. Dad himself was almost recruited to fight in that war as a child-soldier, luckily his cousins went and saved him by pulling him out of the truck that was taking him towards the front Iines to a certain death; imagine he was only 8 at the time. My father was forever grateful to these cousins and never forgotten the love that they showed for him. This traumatic period must have influenced and deeply shaped his philosophy of life and how he was to live it.

His perseverance to succeed reflected in his work ethic as soon as he arrived in Canada. He worked hard in the family store and in both Canadian and Chinese restaurants learning and earning a living. During the summer months, he would head north to Prince Rupert where he worked in the Canneries to earn more money. He diligently saved his cash and avoided the many distractions that are often tempted on a good-looking young bachelor as he kept to one singular vision, to return back to China to find a wife. He did just that, my parents got married in 1958.

When I was a child, I saw my father as a larger than life, authoritative, and proud figure, always working and a little impatient at times. This tough exterior however hid one of the most sensitive, caring, and thoughtful human beings who believed in karma and the well being of others. He was a protector, a provider, a caretaker and a teacher. Dad always made sure everyone was properly fed, taken care of, whether it was family, friends, or just mere acquaintances. He sponsored my mother’s side of the family to this country in order help them build a better life. He talked dearly of his own father and elder brother Shong Buck Chong of how they helped him in immigrating over to here. At the time, it wasn’t simple for the Chinese to immigrate here. He also kept a special place in his heart for his sister Sally, his other brother Sonny, his nieces and nephew Jean, Pearl, Gladys, Leona, Joyce, Diane, and Stephen. He always mentioned how amazing his friend Morris was to him. My dad enjoyed the many excursions with his long-time friend Bong and his wife Yuen Joe who also happens to be Wesley’s my brother in law’s parents. After retirement, Dad enjoyed hanging out drinking coffee and bantering with his buddies at the Oakridge Mall food court. My father was extremely appreciative of all the people that touched him and in turn he was generous towards many around him.

I would like to tell you of this one incident during the time my father was working at Ming’s supper club. Ming’s would contract female singers from Asia, flying them from overseas to sing with the house band. At the time it must have been very glamorous and lucrative for these entertainers. On one particular evening, after finishing the Iast night of her contract, one of these singers went celebrating with friends before flying back home to her infant daughter. During the course of that night while driving back, they had an accident, a full head on collision with another vehicle. The driver escaped with minor cuts and bruises however the woman sustained critical life threatening injuries. She was here alone, had no insurance or any financial means and was far away from her child who was thousands of miles away. When dad learned of the accident he would often take the time to visit the woman in the hospital. He took it upon himself to help her as he felt it was his duty to do the right thing. When it was evident that she was not going to survive from the injuries, Dad told her that he would to take care of everything and not to worry. He promised on her deathbed that he would make sure that she would receive an appropriate burial in order for her spirit to make the proper passage, plus money would be sent back home to help her daughter. So Dad did a fundraising drive in Chinatown and collected enough money from the community in support of this cause. When the woman eventually succumbed to her injuries and died, as promised she was given the proper funeral and burial and money was sent overseas. Dad could not have lived with himself if he did not try all he could to save her soul. He believed passionately in social responsibility and justice. My father tried to live a life of integrity and in my opinion, heroically.

My father was heroic up to the day he left. He was the ultimate caretaker, making sure all of his bills and responsibilities were taken care of. Even on the night before he passed, he asked my sister Cheryl if his property taxes were paid up yet. He fought so hard and nobly till the end.

I remember a man that was fiercely independent and autonomous that he drove his car even up till the day of his diagnosis. I remember a man with a smile that was so radiant that it would charm the nurses at the Grandview highway dialysis clinic. He would be so charming that one of the nurses one day brought him gifts of freshly caught crab from their husband’s catch. He really enjoyed that particular clinic because it was a happy place of gather and laughter. I remember when he cackled and laughed uncontrollably all over the couch while watching Peter Seller’s in the movie The Party, I remember the time he would take my mom and us kids driving through Stanley Park every Sunday on his rare day offs, or taking us out to eat with him to discover and develop our culinary palettes. I remember the man who looked forward to planning and preparing diligently 8 course meals every Sunday for the weekly family dinners. He was so happy seeing everyone eating and sharing meals together as a family. I remember the man who loved all of his amazing grandkids, Lauren, Devon, Chris, and Ryan and how proud he was of Cheryl and Wesley, and Kenny and Joanne for being parents. I remember the time how he talked about how he wanted to marry my mother from the very first time he laid eyes upon her. I remember my moments that we shared together, the conversations on life, social issues, politics (l especially liked our common hatred for the Harper government). I remember the time that I was able to have with him, unfortunately in hindsight, it really wasn’t enough. I remember the man who will always be my beloved father, Buck Wan Chong. I love and miss you very much Papa.

November 12, 1932 – June 14, 2014

Do Not Go Gentle Into the Night

Do not go gentle into that good night

Old age should burn and rage at close of day

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Though wise men at their end know dark is night

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night

Good men, the last wave by crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night

Grave men, near death, who see with blinking sight,

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

And you my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray

Do not go gentle into the the good night

Rage, rage against the dying light

 

– Dylan Thomas

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