It has been over 10 years since my family moved to Singapore. It was in the first quarter of 2004 when we landed on this island. Our first daughter, Allie, was only 6 months old when we arrived and our second daughter, Hana, joined the family only about 9 months later.
Raising kids has been full of joy and occasionally, challenges. Sometime it is a notch above ‘challenges’ but all in all, it is worth it. Our two little girls are growing healthily every day and it is a pleasure to see them going through their journey in life.
We are lucky to have a rather sizeable extended family in Singapore and Hong Kong. Both my wife, Moon, and I went to fantastic schools and had numerous great teachers in life whom we are still in touch with. It was our goal that our little girls should have the same great educational experience in their life in Singapore.
During the end of their pre-school year, their teachers told us that our girls were ‘bright’ and that they were ‘good fits’ for some of the top schools in Singapore. Now, there is no contradiction between top schools and a great learning experience. However, Moon and I knew that even though our girls may arguably have been ‘bright,’ deep down we knew that we may not be able to keep up with the educational experience as parents should they go for those A+ classes of schools. Instead, we chose a school for the girls based on our understanding of ‘life values’.
I remember when I first went to the girls’ school for a parent-teacher meeting. I was pleased. I can honestly say for the first time since 1978 that I would have loved to go back for primary school education but this time in their school! After all, the school had to be good as their aunties Grace and Jacinta graduated from the same school. Both have done well in life – one is a missionary with a PhD degree and the other is a top notch academic/psychiatrist practising in Wales.
One day, our girls brought back their school yearbook and there was a section on their school history – to our surprise and delight, we found out that it was their grand-aunt Dixie Tan who had cut the ribbon during the official opening of the St Margaret’s Primary School at its new location. The school was built back in 1842 for the education of child-maids! I loved that!
Our little girls have the middle name Grace (恩), which was chosen by my father in Chinese, and the English version was named after Auntie Dixie’s mom, my wife, Moon’s grand-auntie Grace (also known as MY or Moong Yang – (蒙恩)). Grand-auntie MY was a lady way ahead of her time and I owe my knowledge of Moon’s family history to her because Grand-auntie MY was the one who wrote a book in it.
Now I am working at the same hospital which Auntie Dixie used to work. Auntie Dixie, who was trained as a cardiologist, served her patients well and she was one of the rare bred who exited clinical service not because of age but it was because she did not want to ‘overstay her welcome’. She never talked about how great she was as a student (and her public service – she was one of the first women Members of Parliament in Singapore). Instead, she said she learnt to get by in school so that she ‘would not get into trouble with her father’ and her public service was just to ‘help out’ when we asked her about her political life.
Auntie Dixie, sadly, was called to the Lord early on the morning of April 23, 2014 after a brief illness. She had lived her life well. She served her patients, her country, her community, her family and certainly touched the life of my family. My girls are lucky enough to get to know her a little – I consider they have won a life-lottery to be related to such a wonderful person. We are grateful.
Hers was an example of a worthy life.
My wife, Moon, has created an online memorial for Auntie Dixie – you can view it at Dixie Tan Memorial.