My grand aunt, Mdm Tan (Chen Meiguang) was called home to the L-rd on Sunday after suffering a haemorrhage in the brain.
But the legacy and void she leaves behind, continues to be felt not just by the public and entertainment world but also her family.
Grand aunt was catapulted to fame following her enrolment as a Soprano singer and performing alongside renowned entertainers like “Wang Sa” and “Ye Feng”, where my mother would accompany her during childhood days to the “getais”. According to my mother, the feeling of getting to see them perform live at a time when few had black and white televisions was simply electrifying.
However, not many know the benevolent and charitable side of my grand aunt where she cared about the family and others. She would provide support to my late grandfather when he was raising a family. Although English educated, it was still difficult to land employment during the tumultuous days and my mother had to be cared for by my grandfather’s late eldest brother, who is the father of Mr Tan Boon Huat our former Returning Officer!
Grand aunt would regularly visit my late grandfather, her brother into the millennium with their youngest sister until he moved to Gek Poh in 2001. She would also drop by my school in the 90s with my mother to have lunch and parents of my schoolmates would be so delighted to see her in person.
Those were Polaroid camera days without smartphones. They were wondering how a potato consuming Eurasian boy would have someone so legendary as a family member. I owe it to them that I picked up my half Teochew heritage from. Even when I met her at follow-up treatments in TTSH, older nurses would entreat to attend to her and excitedly exclaimed how they watched her (and “Er Gu”) growing up.
In the days after she left Mediacorp (then TCS), she still wanted to be of benefit to society where she could spread warmth around. She thus, conducted concerts at the invitations of various Churches where she will sing to elderly folks like herself and raise funds. This is evident in the accolades awarded by the grateful Pastors that are hanging in her room.
Why she left a deep impression on myself is due to the fact of her deep love and devotion to G-d and to do what is right in His sight. Together with my paternal grandfather, William Aloysius Pereira who was a social work at Catholic Welfare, they instilled in me not just to swear by the Almighty but to also walk right with Him, to do Justice and protect the weak in our Community.
At a time when it becomes weary to do good, the continuing tributes to grand aunt that are still pouring in is a constant reminder that at the end of the day, you are judged not by your wealth (or lack of it) but by how many lives you have touched when you were living. I think I’ll let her mediacorp colleagues do the talking for her while we mourn the lost of our beloved one.
Daniel De Costa
p.s. grand aunt is resting at Blk 546 Hougang St 51 until this Friday 1.30pm