We first met Jenny five years ago when we joined a Latin Dance class at one of our clubs. She was always well groomed, mild mannered, with appropriate make-up, tasteful dresses and matching shoes, and looking very smart, to the point of bright and shiny. She was over 80, but she looked just qualified for the 2-dollar travel scheme at most and she had the energies and agility of someone in the fifties if not the forties. She had a disarming smile, spoke softly most of the time, but could be assertive when she chose to be, and was always charming,
We soon learned that she lived in Fairview Park by herself with a maid who would accompany her by public transport all the way to Leighton Road for the weekly classes. Her maid would lug her suitcase which would have inside everything she would need for the day, including spare clothes, shoes and a make-up kit. Sometimes, the maid left her with the suitcase, but that won’t limit her programme for the day at all. She was very much mobile and could independently move about. Indeed she was such a lively and skillful dancer. She knew both the male and female routines, and was therefore very much sought after in a class which was predominantly female. She had always urged us to practice after each lesson, adding that those muscle memories would be lost if we didn’t have enough practices during the week. We learnt that she practiced everyday often on her own for up to three to four hours a day, which would explain why she was such an accomplished dancer and so good with her routines.
Jenny liked good food and good wine; and she was always good company and good sport. She visited us in Mei Foo shortly after we became classmates and we had such a great time, eating, drinking and chatting. She shared with Su her love for oysters in general and the Chiu Chow oyster pancakes in particular. She also told Su that her primary routines were exercises and scripture readings, but that most important of all, she would get out of the house every day or as often as she could. That was her recipe to stay young and healthy. She was at our table at a New Year Eve countdown and at other anniversaries. Indeed, she was always good fun and would liven up the scenes wherever she went.
Later on, we also learnt that she became a widow very young, and that her children were all living in different countries. Her eldest son Richard lives in Colorado with his family. He couldn’t return for her funeral in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but he gave a moving eulogy through the internet organized by Jenny’s granddaughter Natalie. Richard spoke of Jenny having single-handedly taken care of her parents and raised her own four children from the time she was 40. Richard had nothing but admiration, love and thankfulness for Jenny whom he described as independent, inspirational, determined, wise, clever, prudent, diligent, hardworking, just and fair; and so on. He also spoke of her mother having passed through four momentous events in her life, namely the last World War, the Japanese Occupation, the return of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China and the passage of the National Security Law for Hong Kong. Alice returned from UK in May 2020 to look after Jenny after she was hospitalized. She had not been walking well for some time. Natalie joined her after Jenny passed away peacefully in her sleep. They were both at the Requiem Service. Alice spoke of Jenny’s love of life and of her continuing efforts to challenge life, overcoming every obstacle in the process. In particular, Alice talked of her love for food and eating, and her love for good companies, social dancing, sports, including tennis and golf. She picked up her sports career at 40, but had become very good at every sport, representing her clubs and winning prizes. Alice also recalled that Jenny enjoyed driving. She would drive her and her siblings every weekend to beaches and fine eateries when they were young, and would encourage them to order any dishes they liked, never minding that there could be left overs, for they would be picked up in doggie bags afterwards. Jenny had told one of our dance classmates that she had personally coached Alice’s husband and daughter to dance when she visited them in UK, thereby leaving them her legacy. Grandmother, daughter and granddaughter had gone on cruises when they all danced happily together, charming all passengers and in the process, making new friends. Jenny was indeed full of life and epitomized life itself. The Chief Celebrant and pastor who spoke at the Ceremony also recalled Jenny’s charming demeanor. Jenny had been attending their weekly evening services in Causeway Bay for a few years. Initially they didn’t know who she was, but eventually were all amazed by her personality, consistency, devotion and charm.
As I looked around in the Hall, I saw wreaths from friends whose names I could recognize, but who were not present on the occasion, including a classmate of Rosita from St. Stephen’s Girl’s College. I saw another from the alumni of a Jakarta High School. There were four senior ladies, all well-groomed and suitably attired in the congregation. They would be her peers. Jenny had never stayed in an old people’s home for a day. She had been a boon to every community with which she had been associated. She would be dearly missed. Good Night Jenny.