With his mobility seriously curbed due to old age, Yeow Weng Fee, 85, spends most of his time at home in Tronoh, Perak, waiting for the weekend to come around when his children and their families would take turns to visit him and his wife, Tan Eng Choo, 76.
The retired blacksmith loved travelling and used to go on annual overseas vacations with the family. However, since being wheelchair-dependent, travelling is no longer practical.
So, when his children proposed to take their parents on a 3-day/2-night vacation to Langkawi, it was readily accepted. Yeow and Tan were accompanied by their two daughters, son-in-law and five grandchildren in what was to their surprise, a trip in conjunction with Parents’ Day.
Their son-in-law, Michael Chow Kah Miew, 54, said that they bought a Parents’ Day holiday package last year but couldn’t bring the folks along as they were not prepared. Seeing how meaningful it was, they decided to include them this year.
He said, “The reality is that time is no longer on their side. A family vacation like this is one of the few times to take them out of their normal routine. It is a good opportunity for them to mingle around with other families. My parents-in-law are able to see for themselves that despite getting along in age, they too can still continue to enjoy life.”
For Yeow and Tan, as with most parents, they don’t mind not going on a holiday. What is most important is spending quality time with the family and seeing them happy.
One of their daughters, Chow’s wife, Julia Yeow Choy Wan, said, “Even so, my dad loves the beach so Langkawi is an appropriate holiday destination. Lazing on lounge chairs and looking out to the sea are precious moments that we treasure. It would be perfect if my two older siblings could come along as well.”
Also on the Parents’ Day vacation was octogenarian Tee Chu Lian. She was accompanied by her son and daughter, their spouses and a grandson. The retired rubber tapper from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, was also a participant in last year’s inaugural trip so this was like a reunion of sorts for her, where she had the opportunity to catch up with friends she made the year before.
Due to her age, long flights tire her, but she is still able to enjoy short, relaxing trips. Said her son, Danny Low Sar Yan, 56, “Although my four siblings and I visit our mother every weekend, a holiday like this forces us to let go of our work commitments, if only for a few days, and devote all our time and attention to her.”
The holiday for parents was specially arranged by MJT World Vacations Sdn. Bhd. Its General Manager Eddie Chow had always wanted to offer a “treat package” that children can surprise their parents with. However, it didn’t kick off until he shared his idea with well-known deejay Chiong Pei Pei, who managed to help solicit for sponsorship. Chow said, “I have known Pei Pei for a long time but we lost touch until one day, I heard her on the radio and reconnected with her. I can safely say that without her efforts, my dream of rewarding parents would not have been possible.
“When elderly parents and grandparents come on this surprise trip, we look into all their needs and everything is taken care of so that they can truly enjoy a stress-free holiday. They are treated like VIPs. Besides visiting popular landmarks on the island, entertainment is provided by Ai FM radio deejays and popular local artistes, who treat these senior citizens as though they are their own fathers and mothers.”
The presence of Ai FM deejays was why grandmother Lee Hong, 75, found the holiday so much more enjoyable. On the trip with daughter Chong Sook Yee, 35, and granddaughter Chee Ern Shan, 2, Lee tunes in to the station daily from her home in Serdang, Selangor. As a fan, it was a golden opportunity for Lee to meet, play games and sing along with the deejays.
Pei Pei, who was instrumental in the success of the two trips, hoped that all participants would take home the message of appreciating their parents while they are still around. She said, “Children should be filial. Trips like these also give the chance to children to express love and appreciation for their parents, which being Asians, we hardly do.”
All in all, about fifteen families from all over Malaysia participated in the special Parents’ Day celebration.
Eddie Chow concluded, “I hope that this celebration of parenthood and family togetherness could be turned into an annual event in Langkawi and be included in the state’s annual calendar of events.”
Note: An edited version of this article [Saying ‘I Love You’ with sun, sand and sea] was published on 20th June, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.
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