Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Goodbye Uncle Bentong

I was saddened to receive a text message 2 days ago about the death of a good church member, 87 year old uncle Bentong as he was affectionately referred to by many younger church members, relatives and friends. The honor of being so addressed belong to someone who has impacted the lives of those he associated with, from his early days as a teacher, headmaster, then upon joining the same church we belong to, rose to take up important positions that reflected his spiritual maturity and impartiality. He was freely offering good feedbacks and advices to church leaders on how to care for the elderly members for by nature he was a caring and concerned person, which explains his involvement in social work for the handicapped people in Negeri Sembilan.

When I was the chairman of the church executive committee and uncle Bentong was an honorary steward (he was then past 70 years of age) he contributed at all meetings he attended. He was a strong advocate for running the church with compassion and would make sure the pastors know about this. For his wisdom and love for the church he earned the respect of many people, I myself included, for I give respect sparingly and only to those who deserve it, and uncle Bentong is one such person.

Uncle Bentong's health started deteriorating some 3-4 years ago and began attending church less and less regularly. BUT he made sure every first Sunday of the month he would faithfully show up with his dear wife with his only son, Stephen, making sure his parents are comfortably seated near the rear end of the main sanctuary. And should I be at the entrance at the time of his arrival I'd greet him and hold his arm to help him walk to his seat. Uncle Bentong would always smile which was such a reward, as he appreciate tiny gestures, and he did, for he was someone who see small actions with great importance.

I have the privilege and joy to interview uncle Bentong in December 2009 in his home for publication in the Christmas edition of the church's newsletter, the Journey. I remember his great joy of waiting expectantly for my arrival and welcoming me and another church member Michael Goh into his simple but warm home in Taman England, Seremban. Over a simple afternoon tea prepared and served by his dear wife and companion uncle Bentong shared with us his past and his close walk with God. Before we end I asked for some pictures to be taken for remembrance and he gladly agreed. Uncle Bentong passed away on October 29 and was cremated today, October 31. The wake and funeral services were well attended by well-wishers. I'm sure if uncle Bentong can see from heaven he'll be pleased to know we all loved and missed him very much.

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