Chew On It – Family Dynamics

Last month, I went to Penang for a family reunion to celebrate my brother Tony’s 70th birthday – and enjoyed a gastronomic feast, as Penang is known for its amazing food.

Like all families, we are fully dysfunctional and have some very interesting characters. (I think I may be one of the interesting characters.) Happily, the foundation of our family dynamic is built on love, care and appreciation.

We gave Tony a eulogy of sorts, to let him know how much we love and appreciate him – better now before dementia or death! It was also wonderful to have my aunt at the reunion, the last of my mother’s 12 siblings.

My brother Tony is most special to me. When I came to Sydney at the tender age of eleven, he was tasked with the responsibility of caring for me as my parents remained in Malaysia. He was only 21 at the time, yet he did an exemplary job of looking after me and my sister.

My love and respect for my brother is so great that I don’t think I’ve ever had an argument with him in 50 years.

I’m also incredibly proud of him. Tony was the first Asian to be made a partner in an Australian accounting firm that is now KPMG. He also developed the current two-factor identification that the banking world now uses – that’s the system where your bank sends you a verification number.

As I grow older, my appreciation for family grows even deeper and I’m more aware of how brief and unpredictable our time on earth really is. As a result, I do all I can to live my life to the fullest.

In the same week as the reunion, I headed to Bali to attend a Balinese wedding of two of our members who met at Elixr – Shafira and Geordie. It was such a beautiful wedding, it managed to stir even my emotions! May their marriage be a long and happy one.

A genius of our time

Most of you probably know that Stephen Hawking passed away last month.

I admired him for his incredible mind, and even more for his tenacity to live in a broken body while still developing universal theories – he truly was a remarkable human being. An article on bbc.com highlighted his outlook on life in a series of quotes, and I’d like to share a few of them with you here:

On living with a disability…

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”

On an imperfect world…

“Without imperfection, you or I would not exist.”

On being diagnosed with motor neurone disease…

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

On death…

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

On life…

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”