Friday, April 24, 2009

Goodbye Dad.

It’s hard to say goodbye forever…but that is the reality we all have to face one day..for us tomorrow we would be saying goodbye to our beloved dad. It’s not easy for most members of my family, goodbye was last Easter Sunday. For most of us, we were not there when dad breathed his last. Only my mom and my eldest brother. I arrived just…and missed it. My goodbye was the night before. If I had known, if I had paid heed to the many signs dad had given, I would have got myself there on time to say my final goodbye. But as fate would have it, God decided it was the right place and time to take him. we can only plan but God determines.

Death is like a thief in the night. We do not know when the Lord will come. We do not know when it will be our time to go, is it sooner or later? Death is the reality we cannot avoid: all of us have to face it one day. Jesus tells us that this experience of pain, sorrow and tears is only for a time. We pray that you will give mum the spiritual support she sorely needs at this time and for the months ahead. We will be there for her, don’t worry.

Dad, you will be dearly missed. I am sure you can smell the more than 70 floral wreaths that surround you and also see how beautiful they are. Tomorrow we will say goodbye but you will not be forgotten. You will forever remain in our thoughts and in our hearts. Thank you for always being there for us. We will continue to celebrate your life with us. On our part, we will live our lives to the fullest each day, we will try to remind ourselves that our time on earth is but a temporary thing.
Rest now in the arms of the Lord in Heaven.
Goodbye and May you rest in peace.
Your youngest daughter.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Passing of a loved one

By now, you all would have known about my dad’s passing last Monday, 20 April 2009.
“Death” they say is the only thing that is certain. As I write about this, we are at his wake at the Lazarus Room, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Johor Bahru, Johor. He will lie here for our friends andrelatives to pay their last respects till Saturday. Funeral has been set for the 25 April.
I haven’t been able to sit down and write for some time, commitments: work, family, parent-sitting andthe lot. No excuses as they say, cos’ time is how we manage it not the other way round. To the living, time flies, time heals, time spent cannot be recouped, this too shall pass…common clich├ęs we all use in our lives…time is but a phase…, for the dying, time is of the utmost essence, time is what they do nothave and when he/she breathes his/her last, time is what they do not have forever.

“To the educated mind, death is but the next great journey” (Dumbledore/Harry Potter).

My dad passed away at the age of 79 years. We were planning his 80th birthday with a big dinner come October. Guess, last Easter week was the last time we had our family gathering. Dad enjoyed himself and sang his favorite songs by Teresa Teng. We took family photos cos’ all six children and their families were around this time. My sister who lives in London came back too. We didn’t know then that, that was the last outing or even a family dinner we would have with dad. Yes, dad has begun his journey to the next life. Words cannot express how we feel cos’ it was always my mum who has the most health problems, dad was the quiet one. I don’t think he was ever hospitalized for anything nor had any serious health problems except for his manageable hypertension and the last two years, Parkinson’s disease. Dad was the healthy one! We just figured he’d be around with us for a long time. Well, God decided it was time for him to go…

How should one describe dad? Quiet, patient, unassuming, even though he had dementia, he had lapses where he would reminiscence and his memory would be as sharp as ever. He could recall the old days when he was growing up, when we were growing up, his old friends and relatives. Mind you, he could name you the various Presidents of the United States that surprised all of us. We were proud that he could be so knowledgeable yet when he seems lost in his own world, he would see invisible friends and even hold conversations with them that at first frightened us but later accepted as part and parcel of his condition.

I guess I could recall growing up, with dad working across the causeway, and us living and studying in JB. He was the dad who worked so hard for us, and the dad who made us sit at the table and study each night. I think we feared getting any red marks come report card day…and he did use the cane on my older brother and sisters but I don’t recall getting hit once not that I didn’t get any red marks but mostly because I didn’t. To my parents who did not finish their education due to the Japanese Occupation, education was a way out of poverty. They saw to it that we did well in school. They believed in our potential and what we could become. And I think it was because of our background and upbringing that we are what we have become today. We are all successful in our own way and mostly because of our parents. I remember growing up in a kampong house in Tarom, then moving to Stulang Laut, then to Pelangi Garden and the last house we moved to In Taman Perling, Tampoi.

My father loved Elvis Presley and we never missed his movies, he would bring us to the Grand Prix motorbike races and the yearly Chingay processions. Yes, we all could recall those memorable times, both happy and difficult. As I went away to university, started my career, moved to Kuantan, got married, had a family and then later moved to Kuala Lumpur, my visits home to JB were regular and limited to birthdays and festive seasons. But then, my parents were always up in KL every other month and my daily phone calls over the years made sure we were never were too far away.

The last year when mum had to undergo a by-pass saw them move up to KL to stay with my brother and his family. Of course it meant uprooting them from their own home, but that was the only thing we could see possible as they were then not able to care for themselves as mum was too weak. This also meant that it was easier for me and my family to visit often. I am glad the last year, my children got to know my parents especially dad better than all the years put together. My son would engage dad in a game of Chinese chess and promptly lose to him as dad was very good at the game. My husband would engage him in conversations to stir his memory. Come weekends, it was parent sitting and taking grandparents for shopping trips and dinners. So the last year was a year that meant a lot to me personally. Though my time was divided between work, family and parents…I managed quite well, I think. By taking care of our parents and sharing the responsibilities, somehow it has brought us all brothers and sisters closer than we have ever been before. The family is close-knit as ever. I thank the Lord for letting me have my parents close to us especially dad since he left us quite suddenly.

The last two weeks had been blurry, dad had his hernia operation, an op dimmed minor but I guess for a man his age, nothing was considered minor. But dad was discharged after three days…he seemed to be recovering well and that was the Easter week. The last few days before he died, he didn’t have much of an appetite but we took it to be probably post-op blues. I guess we took it that dad being uncomplaining and quiet was doing well. We didn’t realize that he was slipping away from us. Last Sunday, I spent about five hours helping mum and dad make him comfortable and trying to help him keep some drinks and medicine down . He was throwing up whatever we tried to give him. His feet and legs were icy cold and yet he said it was too hot and refused any blanket. He kept wiping his nose and yes it was running. We didn’t realize that these were signs…my final goodbye was around 9pm when I told him I had to go back, and see to my kids. He was lying in bed and when I told him I had to leave, he just held my hand tightly and told me to take care of the children. In my heart, I think I knew he was slipping away but I didn’t realize it was so soon. We all didn’t. I didn’t have a restful night. The next day…Monday…he passed away.

Dad, you have begun your next journey. We pray you will continue to bless us from Heaven. Dad, you will be missed so much by all of us especially when birthdays and festivals come along. But we still have mom and for us left behind, we will make use of the time we have with mum and make her as comfortable as possible. Dad, may God grant you eternal peace and rest.
We love you dad!

“Hold your family and friends close to your heart. They are the ones who will stand by you, with you, when no one else will.”