Learning > Inspiration

Happy marriage makes growing old sweeter

Venessa Lee on 27 May 2018

The Sunday Times


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For former national footballer Chia Boon Leong, 93, and his wife Lily Lim Lee Choo, 82, their long marriage is part of a happy old age.


"He's the one who makes me happy. We are very close and are always together," says Madam Lim, who used to work in public relations and looks years younger than her actual age.


Mr Chia, who gave up driving only at 91, still takes her wherever she wants to go, whether it is to the market or to the hairdresser's.


Mr Chia says: "I married a young wife. She's always smiling, talking, laughing.


"We get along very well."


He adds that she is now like a mother in the way she takes care of him.


The couple will mark their 60th wedding anniversary in September. They have three sons in their 50s, as well as two grandchildren in their 20s.


Mr Chia, who played as a forward, was regarded as one of the best football players in Malaya during the 1940s and 1950s. He represented Singapore in the Malaya Cup, now known as the Malaysia Cup, and other high-level matches.



Nicknamed "Twinkletoes", he placed 19th on The Straits Times' list of Singapore's Greatest Sports Stars in 1999.


The amateur footballer worked as a senior account executive at Rediffusion, Singapore's first cable-transmitted, commercial radio station, before retiring at 55.


The couple say they do not watch their diet and eat anything they want. Madam Lim's passion is cooking, especially Peranakan food, and Mr Chia has a fondness for coconut dishes such as chendol.


They have stopped going for their regular Saturday walks at the Botanic Gardens in recent years, though Mr Chia still enjoys pruning plants in their garden a few times a week.


While Madam Lim looks comparatively young, she says she does not use many beauty products. She uses Nivea cream as a moisturiser and powder and lipstick when she goes out.


Although the couple do not pay much attention to keeping physically and mentally fit, they have an active and lively social life, frequently inviting friends for lunch or going on outings.


They also take an avid interest in their surroundings.


Madam Lim says: "I am interested in people; he is interested in knowledge. I'm even friends with my sons' friends. One of their teachers became my best friend."


Mr Chia keeps up with current affairs and politics by reading newspapers and news websites on his iPad. He has long had the habit of compiling scrapbooks of newspaper articles, such as those relating to his football career.


He has no major health problems though he started having bouts of tiredness and shortness of breath in recent months.


He says that youthfulness may be a state of mind.


"I don't like to look at my face in the mirror. There are a lot of dark spots and wrinkles.


"I'm not as fast as before but I've been happy with my life."


Source: The Sunday Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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