I have said it before and I will say it again. Death, even when expected, still takes you by surprise. Yesterday, I received a Whatsapp message from my cousin Colin to say that 4th aunt (Ah Hoon Kor) who lived in Penang, had passed away. She had been ill and housebound for a while, yet when I visited her last, she looked weaker, but didn’t look frail enough to be going anytime soon. Surprise.

Ah Hoon Kor was my dad’s sister. When all my uncles had passed away, my dad said he was the “last of the Mohicans”. This was not strictly true. He was the last of the boys in his family, but after he passed away there were three sisters left. The last few years saw two of them passing on. Ah Hoon Kor was the last of the Mohicans, and now she too has gone.

She was the maiden aunt in her family. She never married but devoted her life to caring for her family. She cared for her parents. Then she cared for her siblings and their families. Then she cared for her nieces and nephews. Here was agape love. I can only imagine how lonely her life must have been in recent times with all her siblings gone and with her being housebound.

Whenever I go back to Penang to see mum or for work I would try to drop by and see her. The times when Bernice was with me, we would go together. She seemed happy to see us. We would bring along coffee powder (coffee was a staple of the Tan clan) and sugar-free jams. She didn’t have diabetes but our family has a history of the ailment so we thought we’d play it safe.

She would regale us with stories of the family from long ago, plus commentaries on medical care in Malaysia today. I don’t think she went beyond O levels in her education but here was a smart articulate lady with a great sense of humour. In many ways, she reminded me of my dad. Now that she is gone, I will no longer have access to those stories of my dad’s family; stories of my roots.

Her family was staunchly Taoist. My dad became a follower of Christ and was a member of a Brethren church. Two other brothers followed Christ in the Catholic community. Ah Hoon Kor, besides taking care of the family, also took care of the family altar. We shared Christ with her in both word and deed. We just loved her.

Some readers of this column will speculate as to where she is now that she has passed on. I have longed shied away from such speculation. Only God has all the facts and it is His call to make. He will know what to do (Genesis 18:25). So, where is Ah Hoon Kor now? I don’t know but I do know that she is not in Penang and I do know I will miss her terribly.

Bye, bye Kor-Kor.