I never knew that I would feel so sad about the demise of someone whom I have not met personally. I guess although I have not met him in person, he is no stranger to all of us here in Singapore and the world over.
Growing up, we watched him on TV, delivering his speeches and waving to the crowd during National Day Parades.
Our two boys, Zac and Jay, know who he is and we have talked to them before about the things he has done for Singapore.
During last year’s National Day Parade, we watched him on TV. That was the first time Jay became interested in this important yet frail-looking man and started asking us about him.
When we heard news of his hospitalisation earlier this year, Jay remarked that he hoped Mr Lee would be well to celebrate SG50 in August. That was the exact thought that I had too.
So, we were all saddened to wake up on Monday morning to the news of his passing. The boys heard more about him in school that day, where they saw our Singapore flag flying at half mast.
The hubby and I brought our three kids to the Istana on Tuesday evening, to pay tribute to this great man. The atmosphere there was quiet, peaceful and solemn. Many were penning down their messages, while some were taking photos of the tribute site. Our family penned down our individual messages too.
Standing there, I felt a sudden wave of sadness and blinked hard to push back my tears. The man who has built Singapore from third world to first world is gone.
We will not see him waving to the crowd this National Day.
Yet, in a way, he is not totally gone, because everywhere we look in Singapore, we see the product of his labour. The safe, clean and green city that he has envisioned has become a reality for us all. A reality that many might have taken for granted over the years, but once again reminded this week.
These few days, as we watched the news and read articles of this great man, we’ve had many opportunities to talk to our kids about the things he has done for the nation. It is because of his vision, that today, we see even the poorest among us have HDB flats to live in, that every citizen has an equal chance to receive an education, that we can walk safely on the streets at night, that we can live in a city that is so clean and efficient.
Of all the many articles, quotes and views about the man that have been published and shared the past few days, the one that touched me the most are the words spoken by his son:
“What will we miss about him?
I think — so many things, but I think the key thing is, that with him, you will not lose. You will be all right and you will come through, and that sense of confidence and trust in a person, because of the experience, because of what he has gone through, because of what he has done, because of what he has contributed and demonstrated, is not something which you can replicate with any other person.
He was unique. He played a unique role in Singapore and
I think we have been very lucky to have him.
He is a father, he is a father of the nation, and he made this place.”
~ Mr Lee Hsien Loong
Yes, he is truly unique… and we are thankful for his passion and life work of building a safe nation where we and our children can grow up in.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the father of the nation, we salute and thank you. You will be dearly missed.