Goodbye Tak Tak. We Love You.

Does a dog have a soul?

Tak Tak was ten years old.  And he passed away yesterday’s morning in Hong Kong, in the loving arms of my parents.  The news has darkened my day, no doubt.  But the emotional impact is nowhere near to what my sister and parents have experienced.  On that very morning, my sister flew back from Singapore to Hong Kong.  She asked if I wished to come along for the ‘funeral’, and for the support.  I wish I could.  But with the deadlines upon deadlines at work last Friday, I buried myself into the mountain of unending tasks and meetings instead.  It helps not to think about it.  It hurts when I think about how my parents and my sister feel.  And it sucks when I cannot be with them.

If I remember correctly, ten years ago, my mother and sister were convinced that having a dog to accompany my father would keep him active and happy in his retirement days.  So they bought Tak Tak when three of them were in Hong Kong.  By then, I have already moved to Singapore for six years.  Tak Tak had added a lot of joy to my family.  One day when he was still a little puppy, he broke his leg badly.  To go through a surgical operation would cost much more than to replace him with a new puppy.  But how do you put a price tag on a living being?  Even on the last day of his life, his medical bill came up to HK$800.  So Tak Tak had gone through an operation and a long and painful recovery process when he was still a little puppy.  I think perhaps all these misfortunes, pain, and loss is part and parcel of life that bonds people together, reminding us that there is a higher force somewhere.  Hence we love.  Hence we smile to love.  Hence we weep to the love departed.

I do not have much opportunity to interact with Tak Tak.  I was looking forward to playing with him this October when I will be home in Hong Kong.  Tak Tak was a smart dog, a joyful dog, and a dog well loved by everyone – strangers and friends alike.  On one particular day, in year 2009, our family took Tak Tak to a park (click here for the relevant blog entry).  That was a rare day when the entire family was in Hong Kong – my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, my wife, and I – with our dog outdoor.  The day is so rare that I cannot recall another day like that day.  It was a happy day, a special day.  Tak Tak was dashing from people to people.  I was busy taking pictures.  And I am glad that I have put up a photo collection, completed with a journal.  Because that helps to keep the memory alive.  Memory fades.  Words and pictures stay.

Through my eyes as a quiet third party observer, my sister’s immediate response to the situation has touched my heart dearly.  She packed and went, dropping everything she has when family has to come first.  I feel ashamed that I could not do the same.  My mother’s calmness to the whole situation reminds me how great a mother she is.  And my father, I would not have thought that he is so much affected by the loss of his dog.  Moaning his loss so very profoundly, I was surprised.  If my father loves someone, he never shows.  In fact, he often shows quite the opposite.  In this episode, I see my father in a different light.  I see my family in a different light.

According to my mother, in the morning before Tak Tak passed away, he was unable to get up, or open his eyes.  But he knew my parents were there.  He knew my sister was on the phone.  And he responded in a subtle way.  On the previous day before Tak Tak passed away, he could not walk.  So my parents carried him to see a veterinarian.  Tak Tak had a heart condition.  After an injection, he seemed well.  Well enough to get down to the ground and walk home with my parents.  According to my mother, in that particular day, Tak Tak was in joy to see my father and her walking together, in the outdoor.  He was a happy dog.  And he died with a smile.

Does a dog have a soul?  Wherever you are, thank you for all the loving memories and thank you for being with my family all these years.  You are and will be missed.

A French Family Outing Invite

The most wonderful weekend in Paris I ever have.  Me and Michel took half a day off and he drove us (plus his sister-in-law) with his convertible.  Man, that was the first time I ever sat into a real convertible.  We opened the top and let the sunlight shone onto us.  That felt good.

Then we had coffee and waited for Ioen (his brother) to come and had lunch with Merala.  Then we set off with Ioen’s car.  It was a bit clamped but hey, I had a great time.

Their dog, Lila, was just wonderful.  I have thoroughly converted to be a dog lover.

Center Park was something like a resort with indoor sport hall and castles.  Trees and nature, that was what I wanted.  The moment we arrived, Michel and I rented two bikes.  One for me and another one for Merala.  We then unpacked and had some aperitif and headed off for some swimming.

There was a swimming pool with artificial wave.  Tanzan shouted on the mike and the wave started.  Kind of funny.  And the best of all was the “waterfall” and it was totally fun.

Dinner was always grilled steak, pork, salad and fries.  Kind of sick at the end but I didn’t mind.  They played a bit of bridge with me besides learning the French.  We all didn’t last very long and went to sleep after midnight.

Next day was intensive (Saturday).  11 am we had squash.  12 pm we had bowling.  Then we did some cycling and had a good lunch (omelet and bread and salad).  After lunch, I couldn’t help but to fall asleep.  Probably because of the wine.  Got up two hours later and headed to the water again.  7 pm we had badminton.  I don’t really like badminton therefore I played the piano instead.  Merala hurt her knees. How sad.

Dinner again and some card games.

As for Sunday, we had bowling in the morning and Merala couldn’t come and Dana stayed with her.  I took some picture before lunch and Ioen was a very nice guy.  He was very patience with my picture taking, not like Michel.  I taught them how to play “Black Maria” after lunch and they all hooked onto it.  After that, we had ping pong and badminton again.

And we left Center Park at midnight.  Arrived at Michel’s place at 2am.  Slept at 2:30am.  Got up at 7:30am the next morning.  Kind of harsh and he dropped me off at the railway station.  After that he took his wife to the hospital.

At the evening, I called up Grace and arranged a time and place to meet.  But the restaurant was closed down.  And they didn’t wait for me.  I then located the Hotel (the receptionist was an English and she directed me through the phone.  Her name is Jill and is from Manchester.  I ordered a drink and had a chat with her.  Apparently, she just arrived at Paris and has no friend.  Damn, I should have grabbed the chance.)

Had an informal meeting with Doug and went to TGI Friday’s with Alvin at 11:30 pm.  What else?  Slept at 2 am.