Monday, April 20, 2009

These Beautiful People

My niece called me last night, crying over the phone. It was close to midnight.

I was expecting a call from Mom or Sis, but not my niece. The fact that she cried while trying to talk made me a little shaken and panicky.

Sunday Night...

"It's about Atok..." she said with pauses in between. It made me sat-up on my bed and alert as I was already asleep around 10:30PM for work on Monday. My heart was racing, but I calmed her down, patiently waiting what news she was baring.

"I just woke up from a bad dream..." she pause and went back crying.

She dreamt of her grandparents. They were with her sitting around and chatting while eating crackers, when suddenly a dark figure appeared behind her grandfather and told her that he had little time left to live.

She woke up scared and panicky as it was as shocking a news as it was scary. She told her husband and then reached the phone to call me.

It was overwhelming for her since she had gone through it once before. The last time she dreamt of something similar, was about her Dad's mother. It was a bad omen of sorts when her grandmother turned for the worse and was admitted to ICU where she died the very same day after her dream.

She panicked when she had bits of crackers in her mouth when she woke up knowing fully that she did not eat any today. She thought it was a premonition to something bad that will happen to Dad and "I don't want this to happen to Atok!"

I was shocked, but my natural instinct was to calm her down first. I had nothing profound to say except to tell her to get a warm cup of plain water to drink to relax herself and let herself to dose off back to sleep.

"I'll call Nenek in the morning to ask how Atok is doing..." I assured her, "Atok seemed fine when I spoke to him this afternoon." Atok is Malay for grandfather and Nenek for grandmother.

I stared into the darkness for a while, trying to make sense from the call when Wifey stopped my wondering mind, asking what the call was about. She was awakened by the late night phone call and was worried.

Everyone dreads unexpected phone rings late at night.

This weekend has been a scary one to start with.

Saturday Morning...

"Did Mom call you last night about Dad?" Elder Sis asked over the phone.

Mom told her about Dad's condition the night before. He felt shortness of breath and a mild pain in his chest. Mom rubbed some ointment on his chest and back which gave him some relief.

Since Elder Sis was coming over to our parents' place that day, Mom thought she may accompany them to the family doctor if needed, but Dad was already feeling fine by lunch time.

I called Mom to ask about Dad's condition, but by that time, Mom was already calm and dismissed the night's incident as a one off thing. Dad had already recovered from the flu after taking the 1 week medication the Oncologist gave when we Dad went for his follow-up.

That Night...

"Dad's blood pressure is 114, but his heartbeat is 103..." Elder Sis informed me over the phone again. It was about 10:30PM. Wifey came to my Gym Room where I took the call... appeared worried, eyebrows lifted high "asking" me what was going on.

Elder Sis brought along a medical kit consisted of a blood pressure and heartbeat analyzer that she uses to monitor her diabetic mother-in-law's condition.

I asked to check if Dad had cold sweats and if it was hurting when he breathed in and out. I just wanted to rule out pneumonia, knowing that Dad has just recovered from flu, more importantly because of his old age and the fact that he stopped Chemo for anti-coagulation medication.

Dad had all the symptom, but his sweat was because of the hot weather. His extremities were not cold to the touch and no chest pains. "I don't want to go to the hospital." I heard Dad said in the background.

"OK then. Let's take the last reading before midnight." I suggested to her, "if the situation doesn't improve, we'll go to A&E tonight." She was staying with our parents for the night.

We were prepared to activate Youngest Brother who lives near our parents to drive Dad to Singapore General Hospital's A&E if needed. "I'll meet you guys at the hospital if it comes to this."

All was well and normal again on Saturday.

After Midnight...

Dad's vital readings had stabilized, but still not at a level we were comfortable with. His blood pressure was 119 and heartbeat at 98. Still high, but Dad insisted that he was fine since he was not in any pain.

"Mom, " I said calmly, explaining clearly what we would do if Dad felt the pain again "Younger Brother will fetch Dad to A&E if Dad feels unwell again tonight, OK?"

Mom agreed after I told her that Dad may need antibiotics if it was pneumonia. The Family doctor might only refer him to SGH because he is under Warfarin medication... being warded will be the least of our concerns.

Sunday Morning...

"Morning Mom." I called her close to 10:00AM, "How is Dad today?"

"He was OK throughout the night." Mom replied, but sounded tired, "It is me who can't get to sleep watching over him."

Apparently, Mom had dozed off on the living room sofa, while Dad was outside busy tending to his garden when I called. Dad was feeling like himself again and they just had their breakfast Elder Sis made for them.

That was really good news to me after one sleepless night thinking about Dad, wondering if we did make the right decision to just monitor instead of sending him for a check-up, expecting the phone to ring any time that night.

"That's great!" I replied and sounded chirpy for Mom, "I need to do gardening too. The Durantas are getting pretty thick and unsightly here."

I made the call short and urged Mom to get more rest. She has to take care of herself too.

Close To Midnight...

Wifey was happy that our corridor garden looked inviting again.

Thanks to Sonny who helped me gather and threw the dead branches away and swept the corridor clean while I trimmed the branches and removed the dead leaves to reveal an airy space where sunlight can reach the other potted plants placed further in the corridor.

Had a warm bath and watched scary shows "Dead Famous" and "Ghost Hunters" on AXN Beyond over channel 95 with Wifey.

Turned-in for bed midway during Ghost Hunters only to get woken-up scarred by my Niece's call.

Like a cross between an owl and a cuckoo bird, I woke up every hour on the hour, rudely awaken and looking at the land-line phone and my cell phone on the night stand, expecting a call.

Monday Morning...

Waking up on Monday morning was a groggy affair. I almost missed bidding Sonny goodbye as he left for school. Fortunately no headache, else I had to call in sick. I had a team from our neighbouring country coming for a project transfer to them today.

"How are you, Mom." I called Mom in the morning from the office. My heart was racing, expecting to hear something not so pleasant.

Elder Sis picked-up the phone instead. "Mom is good and Dad looks alert and fresh too." She replied. "He's eating well this morning. He's outside talking to Mr. Lim."

I was surprised that Elder Sis came so early in the morning bringing them breakfast and keeping them company. She is a wonderful person, my closest sibling since we were growing up.

Mr. Lim is an old man and next door neighbour who shares gardening interests with Dad. They have been trading potted plants ranging from herbs to vegetable and flowering plants since my parents moved in more than 5 years ago.

Elder Sis sounded chirpy telling me that Dad's blood pressure and heartbeat were stable. More importantly, he looked happy and alert...

Our Folks.

I was relieved to hear that from her. We are blessed to have them with us still.

Yet, there will be a time when things will get worse. This is life. I keep telling myself that.

Yet I cannot imagine how I will feel or react when the day should come to loose such wonderful people in our lives, no matter how many times and ways I go through it in my mind. I will never be fully prepared when the inevitable comes. It will be painful for everyone.

I pray to The Almighty
To give me strength and not scorn You,
When You choose to call them back.
These are beautiful people You've created,
Please keep them in Your care.

Give everyone of us strength,
To face this truth when it comes.
For The Almighty to bless our wonderful People
As we have been blessed to have them
In our lives as our Parents.


  1. My main thought is that I hope your mom will be able to cope with all this. But with such caring children, I know she will be all right.

    We all know that life doesn't go on forever. That still doesn't make it easy with the time comes to say goodbye.

  2. It will be tough when the inevitable arrives. Let whatever feelings come out as naturally as they occur, and go with the flow. Take care!

  3. This post is so very emotional~but without being self-indulgent. What a beautifully compassionate & caring family you have. I'm hoping warmth and peace surrounds your Father.

  4. Hi do have the right mind-set about life... and yes, everyone must die...but it doesn't make it any easier when they do or the fear and sadness we have when someone we lov eis sick.

    I am praying for you and your family...especially your parents..

    Lots of love to you.

  5. Thank you to each and everyone for the kind words. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

  6. I have been catching up on your recent posts Imran and you have had a very stressful time, with anxiety for your parents...because you care and love them so much.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your posted prayer says it all.
    Sleep is the healer as the saying goes, so I hope you all manage to catch up on the sleepless nights of late.

  7. "This is life" however still worrisome and frightful.
    You sound like a great uncle listening to your niece and letting her work through it.
    Thanks for keeping us posted.

  8. I was emotionally exhausted after reading this. Hope things get better.

  9. Be strong my friend. Prayers to your family for health and peace of mind.

  10. I too feel the same way about my parents as you do about yours. God has truly blessed us with wonderful parents. It makes me realize that I need to be so happy and thankful for the time I do have with them. Great post buddy!


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Muhd Imran
PAL Blogger