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Centenarian Chung Yin Ho clearly a sweet soul

By Don Fennell

Published 10:59 PDT, Wed March 18, 2020

Last Updated: 12:58 PDT, Wed March 18, 2020

At 106, Chung Yin Ho still has a taste for the sweet things in life.

Like candy.

“My grandmother loves candies, sweets, drunken chicken and dumplings in soup,” says her grandson, Kevan Seng. “She would always order drunken chicken whenever I took her out to eat, and I had always wondered why she would order that dish regardless of where we ate. I asked her if it was because it brought back some fond memories of her childhood. She answered that it simply tasted good.”

Chung Yin Ho always had candies in her pockets which she eagerly handed out to all the kids. Now, as a resident of the Lions Manor in Richmond, she maintains the tradition. 

“She’ll ask me to pick her up Chinese sweets like orange peels, sesame snacks and so on,” says Seng. “My sister also notes how (as kids whenever we’d visit her) she’d always have ice cream in the fridge. We thought she kept so much to give to us kids, but it turns out she also really loves ice cream.”

Today, whenever Seng picks up his grandmother for an outing, she presents him with a list of three main items: take her to the bank, buy some snacks, and find a good place to eat. 

What’s more, she’s also keen to carry on a longstanding Chinese tradition of putting money in red envelopes to present to staff members at her senior living facility—in appreciation of their kindness and support toward her.

Born in Chongqing, China in 1914, Ho grew up to become the headmaster of a primary school in her hometown. It was also in Chongqing where she met her husband, who had left Shanghai because of the Japanese invasion. After getting married in 1944, their first child was born a year later.

Once the war settled down, they moved back to Shanghai where Ho’s husband continued working for trading company Jardine Matheson. He was in charge of various piers along the Yangtze River (Shanghai, Nanjing, Chongqing, Yichong and Wuhan) where they had their merchandise shipped. 

In 1950, the couple moved to Hong Kong where Jardine Matheson had moved its operations. Their children were too young to move with them at that time, so stayed with their grandmother and aunt in Suzhou. In 1956, the family reunited in Hong Kong.

One of the children, Seng’s father, left home to attend university in the early 1970s—first studying in Taiwan and, after a year, moving to Canada.

“My grandfather was not happy with that and they had a huge argument,” Seng says. “Luckily, my grandmother gave him some money to move to Canada, where he met my mother at the University of Manitoba. They eventually moved to Vancouver where my grandmother joined them in the early 1980s. They’ve lived here ever since.”

In terms of longevity, it seems like the women in the family live long lives. Seng’s great grandmother lived until she was 95 years old, passing during the cultural revolution, whereas his grandfather died in his 70s. 

Prior to moving to Lions Manor, a 24/7 care facility, Ho lived at Austin Harris, where she had many friends with whom she’d play mahjong on a regular basis. She also followed a routine of reciting the Bible and playing a tile game based on memory.

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