Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Vale Cheng old friend


We received the news this morning that an old friend had died last night. Known familiarly as Cheng Wah, his real name was Graham Taylor.  I don’t know how he got his nickname but it probably had something to do with his slightly oriental appearance or maybe inscrutable expression.

I first met Cheng in September 1979 when he moved in as a tenant to a dwelling (it was the back residential section of a dress shop on a  main road in Fitzroy) I was sharing with a few other people. Here’s what I wrote in my diary at the time:

We have a new tenant – an acquaintance of Ingrid, called Graham. He’s actually OK. I felt a bit apprehensive at first, but he’s assimilated well. Rather quiet and unobtrusive, a drunk and doper, he kind of fits. He has a cat (an unfriendly to other animals creature)

That was the start of a very long friendship.

His death really didn’t come as a surprise, but the sudden onset of the serious illness that caused his death, did arouse alarm and sadness in all who knew him.  This only happened in the last few months, when it was discovered that he had cancer of the liver. By the time this was diagnosed, the cancer had moved to his spine, which in an alarmingly short time had paralysed him from the waist down. And if you’re thinking his death was the result of a wild lifestyle, you are only partly right. His father recently died of something similar which leads one to believe genetics had a part to play.

And although I am here mourning Cheng’s death, I am also here to celebrate his life and the part he played in it as my friend.

Of course we were old drinking buddies, part of the old Dan O’Connell Hotel social scene and Cricket Club. Cheng was the Cricket Club treasurer for many seasons, seeing as how he was the only member who could organise the funds effectively.

Which leads me to remember that he was a very intelligent guy, with a quirky sense of humour.  He was an IT expert and computer whiz from the time I met him, i.e. the 1970s.  When I got my first PC in 1994, it was Cheng who came round and set it up for me and showed me how to do stuff, like install software, for example.

He had an amiable temperament; was calm and good natured pretty much all the time. When I last talked to him on the phone a few weeks ago, you wouldn’t have thought that he was at death’s door from his laid back attitude.  He was joking about lasting to 60. He was 52 going on 53.

After living a bachelor existence for most of his life, it wasn’t until about 11 years ago that he found a woman to settle down with. They got married and moved to Tathra on the south coast of NSW. They were very happy together and we often met up with them for lunch when Graham came to Melbourne to attend to his business as a software/network developer.

I feel very grieved for Shelly, his wife who up until the time she got together with Graham had led a very hard life, filled with disastrous choices (in partners) and other such dire situations.  I can’t even begin to imagine what she must be going through at the moment.  The last I heard from her, was that Graham was home with her and their beloved dog, Tangles, for Grand Final day. Graham was an avid supporter of Collingwood, so it is disappointing that they didn’t win last weekend, the last weekend of Graham’s life.  I’m sure he would have liked to go out with a Pies victory on his mind.

He was always a good friend to me, ever supportive and kind. We never fell out, always the best of mates. I have many happy memories of our acquaintance and will miss his humour and sensibleness.

So Cheng, farewell. It was a great pleasure knowing you all these years and I’m heartbroken that you are gone for ever.


Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

So sorry for your loss Anne - this is a loving, moving tribute to your dear friend.

Anonymous said...

beautifully written dear Cat. Condolences from ann o'dyne

Anne S said...

Thanks Kay & Annie, much
appreciated. I'm going to the funeral next week in Tathra, which involves a long train/bus trip. Will report back when I return

Valerie Grash said...

Anne, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend :-(

Anne S said...

Thanks for your kind thoughts Valerie.

However, as a racing fan I can be cheered by Black Caviar resuming tomorrow. Just writing a post about the meeting at the moment.

Valerie Grash said...

And she didn't disappoint. What a terrific mare! She's looks even more powerful than last campaign, if that's even possible.

Anne S said...

Yes, wonderful effortless win by the great lady. Can't wait to see her in the flesh come Cox Plate day. She certainly is a big powerful mare.

I notice her website is down due to exceeding bandwidth, so it's obviously very popular.

Clare Dudman said...

Lovely tribute, Anne. That's one of the great things about the internet - such a good way to record a life - and let people like me on the other side of the world know of him a little too.

Anonymous said...

Of course I don't know Cheng, but this is beautifully written Anne ... I had a friend die of cancer in late 2009. She was 57 and had been diagnosed about 10 months previously. So sad ... and we still miss her. I'd know her since the mid 70s, so a similar time to you and Cheng. Anyhow, my condolences.

Ken Taylor said...

Thanks again Anne. Our family was touched by your eulogy on the day and I still am as I type here now.

Mojin Sor Ars said...

Very nice article, thanks.
Well it's now 5 years, and he is still (sadly) missed.
Hope his family (and especially Shelly) is ok

Anne S said...

I was just thinking the same thing the other day. Gone but not forgotten by his friends. Haven't heard from or seen Shelly for years.