There are grandfathers, and then there was our grandfather – a giant among men. He lived a long, interesting and purposeful life until the very end.
A man of action, he generously dedicated his life to the service of others and never wanted anything in return.
His decades of accomplishments serve to remind us how tremendously large the shoes he left behind for us to fill.
SM Idris lived a very simple life, and he remained steadfast in his approach towards the many problems that arose as by-products of modern life.
The challenges he took on were not easy; the betterment of society and consumer awareness, preserving and protecting our precious environment from excessive development, to name a few.
He was hard-working, wise, consistent and kind, and up till the very end, his principles were never once swayed by materialistic rewards.
His goal was solely to do the right thing, and to thwart the agendas of, and hold accountable, those who sought personal gain at the expense of the everyday man.
The man had a million things on his mind, and there was always something important that he needed to pay heed to, yet he took every initiative to be fully involved in moulding us to be conscientious and kind human beings.
He was never, ever too busy to spend quality time with us, despite the mountain of work on his desk that required his attention daily.
He passed on to us his love of reading, made us think inquisitively and encouraged our learning and analysis. He cultivated within us the capacity to have a wider understanding of global affairs.
Most importantly, he allowed us to grasp how multifaceted the challenges ahead are, to prepare us for the complexities of the 21st century.
We remember how amused he used to get; that little twinkle in his eye, whenever he recollected his younger days, and spoke of the true pleasures in his life; the rustling of leaves in the breeze, the evening sun and the joyful company of his friends and family.
He was never enamoured of material possessions, and of course, growing up, we got frustrated that he did not understand our youthful desires.
He was more concerned with educating us about our carbon footprint, and encouraged us to elevate our mindset and attitudes; to collect knowledge and experiences rather than shiny objects and expensive things.
Although, as children, we were not too enthusiastic about having extra homework, we all grew to appreciate his efforts to ensure that we had a well-rounded education.
We remember fondly the many Friday afternoons spent under the tutelage of late Malaysian novelist Azizi Abdullah. We had the pleasure of getting to know such inspiring personalities from around the world; academics, scientists, activists and literary icons, each with their own solid record of contributions in their respective fields. It was always endearing to hear them speak so well of our grandfather and to call him a dear friend.
In our younger days, he insisted we learn and understand various meaningful pieces of poetry. Today, we remember him, and cherish his memory, through these words that ring true of him, from one of his favourite poems, Henry Longfellow’s A Psalm of Life.
“Lives of great men all remind us
we can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us,
footprints on the sands of time”
You will always be our grandfather and we, your grandchildren but it is not without great sadness that we will never again hear your laughter and your stories nor feel the warmth of your love and guidance.
There is now a void within each of us. Even the stars in the night sky you spoke so fondly of, seem sombre as they look upon the Earth without you in it.
Grandfather, it is your spirit which we carry within, that continues to guide each of us as we embark towards our futures. It was our privilege to have known you. We promise never to forget our roots and the incredible responsibility each of us has to leave this world a better place than we found it.