Malee (Dibb) Wattananikorn 1915-2012
Life in her old age
After the Anglo-Thai Co. Ltd. ceased its forestry business in 1957, the company concentrated its business mainly on import export. Kiet Wattananikorn was promoted to be the company northern branch's manager, having the headquarter in Lampang. A few years later the headquarter office was moved to Chiang Mai. From then on Malee continued staying in Lampang to look after her aging mother, Mrs. Nue, not accompanied her husband to Chiang Mai as customary practices. She spent her life in Lampang for more than twenty years before moving to join her husband, who was then in his retirement, in Bangkok around 1985. From then on, the couple resided in Bangkok with some of their children until Kiet passed away in 1991.
Malee and her husband managed to admirably raise their seven children and gave them an education to the level that each could have an appropriate and a respectable career in his or her life. Malee passed away on April 6th, 2012, at the age of ninety-seven. Her children, grand-children and great grand-children will always remember her as a big-hearted, courageous and persevering lady.
During the last few years of Malee's life, her children often heard her mumble to herself that ‘Dad must have already forgotten this child’. This feeling of abandonment must have always been deeply rooted in her heart because she only knew of her father through what she had been told by her older siblings. She never experienced the love between father and daughter because, when her father went to war, she was only three months old. Shortly before her death, she would often sing an old song to her children:
I’m off to war, to the war I must go.
To you I will return, for my country and you, dear.
Bright sunny day will soon fade away.
Remember what I say and be true dear.
This song must have been embedded in her soul, and always been in her memory from the day she became aware of the loss of her father. It would be hard enough for a child to grow up without a father, but for her it would even be more difficult because her father was a foreigner. She became a mixed-race orphan without having her European father to protect her.
Part of her sorrow may have been caused by her inability to comprehend why her father had decided to join a war so far away, not understanding why an Englishman’s love of country was so great that it was possible to leave his newborn child behind. In due course, she learned with heroic courage to cope with the various situations that she faced as a Eurasian woman in Lanna society, and later as the wife of a forester of an English company.
Kiet and Malee in 1955
Kiet and Malee with all their children around 1951
Kiet and Malee's children in their old ages in December 2017, sitting in sequence, eldest daughter on the left, youngest son on the right.