We recently learned of the passing of Nicholas Ng, long time club member and authority on flowering bonsai. He will be missed.
For our new people, who didn’t get a chance to know Nicholas very well, John Egert submits the following:
Nicholas Ng was one of those rare people who marched to a very different drum than the rest of us— so different, in fact, that I think only he could hear it and only he could understand its cadence. We all have the conceit that we “understand” people, but anyone who claimed that he/she understood Nicholas Ng was either lying or delusional. He embodied simplicity and he embodied complexity, often within the same moment. He revealed nothing about himself, and he revealed everything– again, all at the same time. He laughed at things I found extremely serious, and frowned at things I found hilarious. He occasionally took me aside and whispered advice to the effect that I was acting like a fool, just when I thought I was being cute and generous. Whenever we thought we had considered every possibility around an issue, he produced an opinion so contrary to “logic” as to be breathtaking. I never thought I’d heard the Final Word on anything until I heard what he had to say…..
Nicholas lived with intense physical pain. Every step was agonizing, but he made them as an artist, which ultimately seemed to be his reason to keep going. He was a marvelous painter, and we remember his bonsai as graceful and delicate, often the tiniest twig carrying two or three blossoms. He had no concern for bonsai rules or aesthetics beyond what he loved to see. With characteristic irony, he was a health care professional with a deep distrust of the medical system—- though maybe that isn’t so paradoxical as it appears. He resisted his Dr’s advice to operate for years. I believe he had a knowledge that he would not leave the hospital once he submitted. He lived constantly in the balance between continuing to live and accepting death as a release.
At our shows, he could be counted upon to be there at all hours, and a couple of years ago, we conned him into using a little counting machine to try to accurately measure our attendance. Though there is no way to prove it, I’d be willing to bet that his count was extremely close to perfectly accurate. Nicholas was not one to half-bake anything.
You don’t get to experience truly unique individuals too often, but Nicholas was a one-off prototype that The Creator probably considered far too complex for mass production. As I’ve tried to say, he was contradiction incarnate— intensely private yet utterly generous, carefully reasoned yet off the wall, wonderfully congenial yet closely reserved, skeptical yet sentimental, on-and-on. He didn’t have much close family– never married– but he had the ABQ Bonsai Club. I don’t know how his death will be memorialized, if at all, but come Mothers Day 2015 he will be— guaranteed.
We’ve lost a remarkable friend. He was a source of color and richness in an increasingly homogeneous world. Our lives will be substantially leaner for awhile, and those fluorescent lights he disliked so much as “artificial” at our meetings will burn noticeably dimmer when they find out that Nicholas Ng has gone to another room.