Family Heritage of Shae-Lynn Sheryl-Lynn


Jian Gu
Shae and Sheryl-Lynn Tan

We often wander through life and question where we belong. Sometimes we meander because we do not have a definite idea of ourselves. Knowing our family heritage helps us gain more knowledge about our ancestors, learn to appreciate them and more about ourselves.
I feel that family relationships should continue throughout eternity, this is to ensure that future generations get to know about their past and the family can stay united and strong.

We can find out more about our family past via many kinds of ways, ranging from collecting primary sources such as old photographs to even interviewing the eldest in the family. To pursue our interest in my family, we have interviewed some of my relatives.

My family dialect is hokkien. Hence, I can understand and speak a little Hokkien. Hokkien is a one of the common dialects spoken in Singapore, with ancestors probably coming to Singapore from South-Eastern China a long time ago. 

First, we shall start with the oldest and wisest person in my family tree- my grandfather.

My maternal grandfather, Mr Wu,  is a humble and intelligent man. He worked as a principal in a secondary school in the early 1950s. He was considered as a successful, well-educated man at that point of time. I have interviewed him to find out how was life back then and more about the family past. He also recounted his experience as a small boy during World War 2.
My grandfather said that in the 20th century, things were very different and a lot less modernised. Many people came from low income family background and he was lucky to be from a middle class family. When he was studying Primary School, he went through World War 2. He told me solemnly that those were the days of disasters when the Japanese invaded Singapore and tortured the Natives. He was lucky to survive the traumatic ordeal. Thinking about it, he shivered at the experience, as if it haunts him even till now. War also mean the lack of food and resources such as electricity and water. I learnt that we should be grateful that we did not live through wars, where massive and brutal killings happen. We must not take advantage of the peace and harmony we enjoy today. It might seemed easy but this is the result of our ancestors’ hard work, which we cannot take advantage of. Resources do not come free. While now, with the press of the switch, we must appreciate it and not waste this non-renewable resources. This will also harm our environment and Mother Earth will suffer badly. 

Next will be my paternal grandmother. She has lived through many years, and of course have much more experience than me. She had come to Singapore from Malaysia at a young, tender age at 5. All this time, she lived in Singapore Kampong. She also lived through World War 2. She was a hawker stall owner in the mid 1950s. While doing this job, she has endured hard as being a hawker stall owner is known to be quite tough. Now, she always recount her older stories as a child to a young lady. She likes to reminisce the time when she was living in the Kampong, playing games like Five Stones and Zero-Point. This bonding time, had allowed my grandmother to be closer to us, yet at the same time, understand more about our family history. I learnt that in the past, when technology was not so advanced, children usually create or invent their own games to enjoy their time during childhood days. Now, however, young children have fun by playing games on their iPads and other technology devices. Some have even been addicted to it. Sigh… Times have changed. However, I feel that we should not be too obsessed with technology as face-to-face connection is always better. People always look down on hawker stall owners. However, if there are no hawker stall owners, hawkers would not even exist! Hawkers have played an important role in Singapore’s culture and history. Hence, we should not take them for granted. 

We have also interviewed our parents. My mother graduated from Melbourne University. She is a very successful businesswoman. She is a very devoted and inspiring mother. She always give us sound advices whenever we do anything foolish. She does not believe in caning or scolding harshly to discipline us. I am very grateful for having such an awesome mother. She always believe family bonding is important. Most of the times, we will have meals together as a family, whether at home or not. During the holidays, when we are more free, we usually plan activities together, such as bicycle rides at East Coast Park. We always enjoy the time spent together as a family. I feel that my family is very unique. Each and every one of us is different in our own ways and we will always help each other in every way we can .

Next, my Father. He did not come from a good family background. In the end, he had to give up schooling so he could work and help with family issues. However, he was determined and perseverance. He home schooled by reading books himself. He graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).  This is a real life example to prove “When there is a will, there is a way”. Whatever we do, we always have to have confidence in ourselves. Then, can we succeed! We must also not take things for granted, our family, our parents who brought us up. There are those who do not have the privilege to have parents. Hence, we have to learn to appreciate and show our gratitude towards them , in any way, small or big. 

Both of my parents met as they were working in the same field. They gave birth to my brother, sister and me. They are nice and caring parents, accepted us for who we are.

My brother. He is 19 years old currently. He graduated from Hwa Chong and is in army now. He is a great brother. All of us are close, willing to help each other whenever and wherever. He always help us either academically or real-life problems. He will be a listening ear, one who we confide when we are feeling down. We miss him now as he is usually not at home. However, during the weekend, we try to have a meal together. He is smart and helpful, willing to help us whenever we are in need.

In this household, we are  very coordinated. We understand each other and compromise for each other when the need arises. Although sometimes we quarrel, but we will forgive each other soon. In a nutshell, I believe that family love is the greatest. No matter what, they will always be there for you. Hence, we have to treasure each other and never let the bond between us break.