I got a surprise visit from Brandon, my student who is from Hong Kong. Brandon came to study in Singapore in 1992. He was 16 then. He stayed with me for 3 years before going to US for further studies. He's married and now operates his own real estate company in California.
He specially came to Singapore to give me his mother's farewell gift - a beautiful diamond ring that she bought in Tiffany's. His Mom passed away last December, she was only 55. I was shocked and couldn't stop my tears from pouring.
I was also very touched that she still kept me in her memory after all these years. It was very sad to hear of her passing, but Brandon & I think she would be happier where she is now.
I first met Ching, Brandon's Mom, in October 1991. She was a beautiful lady and always dressed in designer clothings and dripping with diamonds. Her husband is a developer in Hong Kong and China. She was an unhappy woman because her husband was seldom at her side and he kept mistresses.
Ching would come to Singapore every two months to see Brandon and she would treat us to expensive dinners. She would shower Jaymes & I with lots of designer wear. I was not comfortable with that and once told her I would get angry if I receive another branded handbag. She just laughed it off and continued buying expensive gifts for Jaymes. She was a very generous person.
All these gifts didn't make me treat Brandon any more special than the others. I was very strict with Brandon and I couldn't stand any nonsense from my students at that time. I was very square - very inflexible and firm, upon making up my mind. Brandon couldn't take it and used to complain to his Mom, but Ching would tell me to ignore him and do as I deem fit. She commented that Chris and I treated Brandon like our own son, caring for him more than her husband and herself. Gradually Ching grew to trust me.
Then she started to confide in me. On many nights she would make long overseas calls to chat with me. She was one very lonely woman.
In December 1993, she bought airtickets for Jaymes & I to go to Hong Kong. We stayed in her beautiful mansion on top of a hill. She brought us and Brandon to eat and shop all over Hong Kong, and she wouldn't allow me to spend my Hong Kong dollars. Whatever Jaymes and I lay eyes on, she would promptly ask the salesgirls to wrap it up. So much so that I told Jaymes not to look at anything at all. But the estatic kid didn't listen to me! So we ended up with another extra 3 luggage to bring home. And she paid for the overweight charges too!
Subsequently we were invited to tour China together with the family. We were treated as family members.
When Brandon went to study in US, we still kept in touch. She would fly to Singapore for a few days just to chill out with me. Later we drifted apart due to my busy schedules. The last time I heard her voice was 3 years ago, before she fell very ill. Brandon said Ching was ill for the past 3 years and refused to see any visitor nor take phone calls.
Ching wrote me a letter, saying that she wanted me to remember her as the beautiful Ching & a cheerful lady. She had treated me like her family and would like me to treat Brandon as family. So the next post is in memory of Ching.
One memorable thing happened on that first Hong Kong trip. The cheeky Ching brought me to a 'duck shop' (gigolo bar 鸭店) one night!