Letters from Grandpa: Jimmy Teo – A Lighthouse to Many

Jimmy Teo, aged 57, and married to Goh Beow Leng for 36 years, is an active advisor to several multi-national companies on Indochina. He is known as a deal maker and is the author of the book ‘A Legacy to My Sons’ published in Thai, Indonesian, Burmese Mandarin and English.


To: Eden & Evan TeoJimmy_Teo_Eden__Evan_photo_4_30.9.07_275

Each time you called me “grandpa”, I am the happiest man on earth. Year by year, you will become older and wiser. I too, will become older and one day, I will die. It is all a matter of time.

I remember when I returned from Cambodia a year ago, I was not feeling well. Both of you climbed on me as I lay on the living room sofa and kept calling me. Each time I closed my eyelids, Evan would scream very loudly: “No, no, no, Grandpa. Don’t close your eyes.” I suddenly realised that you thought that I might die. I was touched.

Last week, when your dad scolded Evan for being rude, he just walked away and refused to apologize. Dad threatened the cane as punishment. To my surprise, Eden walked to Evan and offered his hand saying “Di di (younger brother in Chinese), follow me.” Evan then followed Eden, who led him to dad and walked away. I was touched and delighted.  Eden, you are a mature lady indeed. Both of you care for and understand each other.

Almost everyone in your family is musically inclined. Your grandma taught singing. I love to sing in karaoke. Your mum and dad sing and play the piano. Eden, you are definitely a soprano. When you scream, I fear my eardrums would burst. Evan, your voice is equal to your sister’s. Both of you enjoy music and have a good sense of rhythm. Use music for good, to soothe and inspire.

It is my wish that you will fight for the rights of the underprivileged, especially the young people. There are millions all over the world being ill-treated and not given proper education. Many are orphaned by wars and calamities. Some are forced into hard labour.

You are both very strong in character and very kind hearted. Here, I must caution that the soft way of doing things is the best. Think of water. It can be hard, liquid or even vapour. Under pressure, it could cut through steel. When heated, it can exert great pressure. When someone tries to hit you, you become solid like ice, and they will hurt themselves instead. Water gives life when consumed but it could be disastrous in a flood or tsunami. Be the water that people will respect. You can be both leaders and team players in what you do.

Remember this wise saying: “Be as wise as a serpent but be as meek as a dove.” It means that you need to be sharp and intelligent but also be humble and do no harm.

When people know that you are kind and yet powerful, they will respect you. You will be a lighthouse to many. When you are weak, people will bully you. You must be strong.

Remember to be grateful to your parents, whom you must honour. I wish for both of you God’s peace, health and happiness.

Your grandpa,

Jimmy Teo Nai Heok

This letter is republished with permission from the National Library Board. Letters From Grandma and Grandpa (2008) is an initiative to create opportunities for youth and seniors to strengthen ties, enhance understanding and appreciate each other. Singapore grandpas and grandmas share their stories from the past, their hopes for the future, their love from their hearts, and their values for the soul. The letters capture their thoughts and feelings on important values, such as family and heritage, respect for the elders, generosity, love, courage and responsibility.

First published on 14-02-2011.


Categories: Letters from Grandpa

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