My dear grandfather, an upright man who recently passed away, made many sacrifices to bring food to the family table and to keep us comfortable. As he grew older, Ah Gong stayed home and took on the responsibility of looking after us grandkids, while his children were at work.

Ah Gong, my mother’s father, doted on us. He taught us values, generosity and love. When my biological father left my mother, my sister and I were kids. Ah Gong became like a second father to us; he took the three of us in, and tended to our needs while Mummy went to work.

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It was natural that we formed a close bond and soon, it was obvious that we had become his favourite grandkids – much to the envy of his sons and my cousins. Ah Gong was a fair man… when he retired, he was given a golden handshake from the company he had worked for most of his life. And loving his children, he divided much of what he had amongst the four of them as he wanted to help make life a little bit easier for them. What he kept for himself, he said, was for his old age; that and the house he owned – the house that we were living in.

It soon became clear that what he had given his sons were not enough for them. They were, of course, eyeing Ah Gong’s house, which was appreciating in price each year as he grew older. 

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Old man at a hawker centre ordering food
(Photo: Pixabay/Posed by models)

But Ah Gong was adamant that he would do what he liked with what he owned. Knowing how things could be, he even went to his lawyer to make a will, and he told us that he was willing the family home to my mother. He made no secret about this, telling neighbours and friends of his intentions. But this brought no joy to his sons, nor my cousins.

As we grew up and started work, Ah Gong continued to be our family’s backbone. He would cook meals for us and buy us our favourite hawker food, make sure we got our bird’s nest and herbal soups, and come to our rescue whenever we were in trouble. But as years passed, we began to see him becoming weaker and as he entered into his 90s, dementia slowly crept in.

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It was painful to see – the person I knew, who was always lucid, always strong, always in control, was slowly becoming a fraction of what he was. I knew it was frustrating for him, but we couldn’t do much to help his state, except be there for him and to take care of him. It was Mum, my sister and I who took care of him. His sons and their children hardly visited or showed concern.

It was in his final years, when he had lost most of his memory, when the bullies appeared. Abusing his ability to think for himself, my uncles and cousins, on the pretext of taking him out for the day, had taken him to see a new lawyer, and got a new will drafted up. I’m not sure what exactly took place that day, and how my Ah Gong was feeling, but what he had signed was invalid in my eyes. He couldn’t think for himself at that stage… and to be bullied into changing his will to include them in the inheritance of the home – that’s a despicable act.

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My uncles tried to hide the will but we chanced upon it one day when we were helping Ah Gong locate his IC. Shocked, we asked Ah Gong if he knew about his new will and who he had willed the home to. “To your Mummy!” he exclaimed, with a tone of certainty. I knew then that he was oblivious to having signed the revised will. Mum had a talk with us, and we decided we would not contest the will.

So when the will was read not long after Ah Gong’s passing, it came as no surprise to us. Perhaps the uncles were more surprised at how calm Mum and I were. I bear these people no ill feelings, only sympathy. I feel sorry that they can be so blinded by greed and jealousy, that they lost focus on what was most important – their father. I also believe I am not in this world to judge; so I will leave that to the one above who sees all things.

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My close friends get mad when they hear of what happened, and say my mother has the right to challenge the will. But what for? We took care of Ah Gong because we loved him, not for the hope of inheriting his money or his house. He had left us with other riches – the great memories and the love he gave so unconditionally are more than enough. It gets upsetting sometimes to think about the sickening deed, but all I have to do is close my eyes, think of him, and I’m good.

*Salient details changed to protect privacy.

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