The following is written by Poh Seng as a eulogy of his friend Max:
I first met Max when I travelled from Singapore to Canada to enroll in a post-graduate program at the University of Calgary in 1969. I was told by the Faculty of Graduate Studies that there was another University of Singapore graduate, also staying in the same hostel. I sought him out, and when I saw him, I recognized him immediately.
Max was 2 years my senior at the University of Singapore. I used to see him at the students’ canteen. I noticed him because he was lively and appeared to have a lot of friends. (I now know why he was so well liked.)
In my first few months at Calgary, Max generously drove me around in his big car which I remember very well: Ford Galaxy 500. On weekends, he would drive me to the Rockies. During all those times, he never asked me to share the cost of the petrol/gas (and I was too dumb to offer) even though he was on a tight graduate student’s stipend.
During the Christmas break (2 weeks), when all Canadian students went home, Max and I continued our stay at the hostel. We then earned some pocket money by taking a janitor job to keep the place clean. It was easy job as there were few occupants in the hostel: we spent 30 minutes cleaning in the morning and then a further 30 minutes at the end of the day. In-between, we played bridge with other foreign students. For our meals, my small electric rice cooker was indispensable: we cooked rice with Chinese sausages thrown in. We were really enjoying ourselves.
Soon, Max and I moved out of the hostel. We shared renting a basement. Our stay together was short, I think for one or two months, because of differences. Max made the decision to move out, and I was not happy. But then Max explained his decision: to save our friendship. At that time, I did not buy it as I felt our relationship was not that bad. It was several months later that I realised how wise he was as we became closer.
When I married Swee Chin a few months later, I got Max to be one of our two witnesses of our civil marriage. So, that was 50 years ago.
After I completed my study, Swee Chin and I returned to Singapore. Max and Maria and us continued to keep in touch.
When Max and Maria visited Singapore, they would stay with us for 1 – 2 nights. Likewise, when we visited Canada, we would stay 2 – 3 nights with them. Our friendship strengthened. Soon, Max and I were both friends and brothers. We were always there for each other.
There was a time when I was in crisis. Max phoned me regularly. I appreciated his counselling very much. A few years later, I found out that during that period, he was also going through a crisis, and yet, that did not deter him to avail his time for me. He was my older Brother, always looking out for me.
And recently we saw how he looked after Maria during her illnesses. He taught us the meaning of the marriage vows.
When Maria phoned to say that Max had passed away, both Swee Chin and I were just speechless. We sobbed.
The last time I spoke to him was a few days earlier, on 20 Dec. It was a leisure chat and was cut short as I excused myself to go out for a lunch appointment.
On Christmas eve, we planned to phone Max and Maria after our phone call to another very close friend in Calgary. But by the time that Calgary call was over, it was a bit too late to phone them. We decided to phone the next day. The next day, when we remembered to phone, it was around 10 pm Edmonton time. We decided it was too late to phone. We wished we did!
Swee Chin and I were so proud of our friends Max and Maria that we introduced them to all our close worthy friends. We used to have dinner together, and as these friends now reminisce, henceforth, one person is going to be sorely missed.
Our two children always looked forward to Uncle Max’s and Auntie Maria’s visit. They will miss their beloved Uncle Max.
And as for Swee Chin and I, when we now visit our favourite chicken rice hawker store or the hawker store that sells the pig’s ears that Max loved, or seeing sea-cucumber dish on a restaurant menu, we are sure to choke. Goodbye Max, we are missing you…..if only we had few minutes before you went, to tell you one more time how much you had enriched our family life and how much we loved you.
My Brother Max, thank you for your friendship.
My Brother Max, thank you for always thinking of us.
My Brother Max, do come to talk to me in my dream!
A Eulogy From Vincent Ah Chuen:
Max and I have been close friends since we were attending St Mary’s College. We formed a bonded team, going out together, singing and taking dancing lessons. Max was the intellectual, the singer and the poet. His views were always spontaneous, straight forward but full of wisdom. You can always count on Max.
We were in the Legion of Mary under the leadership of Pere Ah KONG .One of our tasks was to distribute monthly religious newsletter carefully stenciled by Kwok Siang to all Chinese shop keepers in Beau Bassin. I have fond memories of Max.
In our frequent bicycle rides around the island and camping excursions, Max knew how to charm the girls and we were a bit jealous of him. Even though we have been far apart we would occasionally exchange news and pictures and stories of our youth. Peter Fong planned for a reunion of all members of our “clique” or team in Mauritius as most of them have been living abroad. Unfortunately Max would not be present.
I will never forget how Max could sing, recite and write poems with such an ease. When I informed him about the birth of my granddaughter he wrote a poem for her.
I thank God for sending Max to be a most faithful friend.
I will never forget him, his good humor, his smile.
By his loyal services to the Church and Diocese of Port Louis, Max has showed us the way to Thank and Glorify Our Lord.
On behalf of our team, Peter, JAcques, Andre and Cyril, I would like to convey our sincere condolences to Maria and her family, and the Wan Sai Cheong family. We will keep them in our prayers to comfort them in this difficult moment.