Monday, January 18, 2010

Thinking Of You

It's been two weeks since Dad's passing.

I have been thinking about him so often and intensely so, for the first week. I cried secretly when I did. Not wanting to show this weakness to my family. I don't know why but I don't want to... my private time with Dad, I guess.

After the first week, Dad's face has been popping in and out of my mind everyday, but I no longer shed tears for the loss.

I don't think my personal mourning period is over because I don't cry or feel overwhelmingly sad any longer. I think I have found a more meaningful way of mourning for Dad.

Every time I think of Dad, I recite a prayer for him. Instead of trying hard to suppress my tears, I recite the Al-Fatiha for him... food for the soul in the after life. It is encouraged to do so. It is good for him and for the living to ease the pain.

I don't know if I am right. Right, being sure that I am managing this sadness part of my life right. I mean, will I get overwhelmed again and burst out crying like a child for his Dad? I think I am the only grown man to say something like this. I have not heard or read anybody saying such things... then again, I don't read widely.

I do miss Dad and I don't want to forget him... his face... his jokes... his kindness.

That face, that always smiling face whenever our eyes met.

That wander and gratitude look carved in his face whenever we arrived at the many places I brought him... the new, local places when we had my family outings and especially the faraway, foreign places I brought my parents along on my family vacations.

Besides spending time with them, taking them to new places to experience it first time as my first time too is the least I could do for them... for making lots of sacrifices all their lives to care and bring up their children.

The look on their faces, that joyful yet humble look... priceless! That, and the many good times we spent together... I will treasure.

I am missing my Dad but when I look at Mom, her loss is a thousand times greater than mine.

"We were married for 60 years," Mom told me during one of our daily phone calls. "I miss him very much." She will start crying and we will pause for a while before she regains composure.

I had to take my first urgent leave off work on Monday to be with her. She requested that I accompany her for the day. She was not eating much, just one meal a day and became weak, falling sick and coughing especially at night.

It has been tough on her. Dad and Mom were inseparable. They had always been together. They insisted to live alone, in their own home, in their own privacy. All they requested was our time to spend with them.

To not let Mom be home alone, my sisters have been taking turns accompanying her. My eldest niece has moved-in with her to keep her company. She is watching over her medications and especially upkeeping her nightly insulin injection routine.

She stopped doing it quietly since Dad's condition got worse. She was too preoccupied and depressed to put effort to care for herself.

Our talks on the phone always lead to conversations about Dad. It is very tough on her but hopefully spending time with her at her home will somewhat soothe her and ease her pain of loss. It is an efforts all of Dad's children are putting to care for Mom now.

Dad will always be in my mind. I don't wish to forget anything about Dad, the good and the bad because the memories will keep him real in me...

We will take care of Mom for you.
We will say a prayer for Mom to be blessed,
as we have been to have you.

I will say a prayer for you after my five daily prayers.
I will say a prayer for you whenever I think of you.

I will not forget your humility and kindness,
because you have planted it in me to be so too.

I am missing you, Dad...
I will love you forever.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Thank You Everyone

It is a difficult time for me.

The first for me to truly feel... to truly have to go through it.

I remember being at my grandfather's funeral but was too small to understand the weight of the situation. I still remember those moments vividly.

I remember looking at my Mom and all my aunts and uncles, one by one, giving their father the last rites, bidding their father farewell but I was too small to participate. I was a face in the crowd without a clue.

I remember everyone was crying or trying hard to control their sorrows, for Muslims must will and not hold the soul undecided to go meet its Maker but I was too little to understand. I was too little to know my grandfather and I do not recall him ever spoken to me once before when he was alive.

It was my first witness to the Muslim way of the last rites before burial...

I witnessed a few more during my growing-up years in the village. All those times, I was an onlooker without a clue of how it would have felt to loose a dear one after I saw my friends cried for their grandfathers, their grandmothers, their parents.

I went to a few funerals of the old folks from my kampong and I also avoided many as I got older. I do not know why I did that. Maybe I do not want to think about my own parents when it is their time.

I faced it head-on with Dad. It was tough. It was heartbreaking. I thought I would cry but not the whole day, not that many days... sleepless days.

I know it is something everyone has to go through. Death is part of life... the closer you are, the more painful it will be felt but I know that the time I had with my loved ones is well worth it.

To my dear friends, I sincerely thank you all for your kind words and prayers all this while.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Hero's Farewell

Dad has won his battle against cancer.

After fighting for his life again for the span of about a year and a month, Dad has finally emerged victorious...

Dad passed on at 10:55PM Tuesday.

He left us for a better place to meet his Maker with all his children and close relatives by his bedside. It was a swift transition for him as he took two short breaths... he bid his final goodbyes peacefully.

Everyone got to witness his passing. I was blessed to get to be with him, holding him... his right hand gripped in mine, as I held his right shoulder with my left whispering prayers for him in his ear as only I knew how.

I could feel his grip slowly loosened as he progressed into unconsciousness... the warmth of his hand dissipated rapidly as his face turned pale from the chin upwards. Dad was no longer with us.

No more pain... no more coughs, that incessant and at times knife-like pain in his chest Dad always said whenever he coughed lately.

No more sleepless nights... no more tossing and turning. No more worries.

Dad triumphed over his fight against the invading cancer to his lungs. He killed the disease. It will not harm him anymore. The disease is dead.

It was a blessing to be with him in his final moments but it was a miracle to get to witness the extraordinary moments we had with him two days before his demise.

Just like Dad... like a wounded hero coming back home from battle, he conjured-up his final fighting strength to be aware and alert despite all the heavy medications - his morphine that was given intravenously via the PICC line at the later stage from orally, also the IV Buscopan apart from IV Cefoxitin antibiotics that was no longer of any use, to see and talk to his loved ones.

Dad had very strong will power, the positive attribute I wished for so long to emulate.

He called out to Mom first, then to each of his children by their full names, his grandchildren and close relatives.

It was the most intense and heart-wrenching moments in our lives as he seek forgiveness from each individual for the things he had done or said, seek for us to make Halal the food that he eat from us, the money we spent on him, the time we had given to care for him...

He wished each of us with an individual well-wishes for the future... our lives, our family, our career and for everyone to stay together to care for Mom... for the grandchildren, their Granny.

I am confident that I can take care of Mom as best as I can but will never match that of Dad's. I will have to learn and make mistakes along the way... to lead my own family, to also maintain the close knit we enjoyed amongst our siblings, just as Dad had done all his life.

Dad thanked Wifey for her good care and guidance she has been giving to his Son and Grandson. She was thanked for giving him and Mom the opportunity to step onto the many far away foreign lands we had taken both of them on our yearly vacations.

Dad wished for Sonny to be successful in his studies and career later in life. He expressed his confidence that Sonny will go far and be fruitful in his adult life. He reminded Sonny to take care of his parents when Wifey and I are old.

Dad entrusted me to take care of Mom now... as I had taken care of him... to help my brothers and sisters out when they encounter difficulties in their lives and be the strength to unite his family during adversities.

Everyone said that I was given the heavy responsibilities... requests that have yet to sink into me and have time to digest.

Yet these are the responsibilities that I will honor with whatever I have equipped within me, as best I know how.

I still cannot believe Dad is gone now...

All the people here... all the hectic times. The funeral plans I have to arrange and coordinate, remove me from having time to feel that he is truly gone.

I have cried countless times... like a boy to his Dad. I stayed by his bedside all the while holding his hand to let him know he was not alone except whenever I was taken away to perform my duties as administrator during these sad times, or when I had to let his hand go to let relatives have their final privacy and prayers to Dad.

I did not shed a tear when he drew his last breath. Everyone around me was utterly distraught, yet I did not cry. Instead I held his shoulder tight to send him on his way.

I felt relieved. Relieved for him instead of sadness that he finally left us.

I felt happy for him. Dad is free now. Dad is victorious!

That was my hero and always will be. AMIN.

Monday, January 04, 2010

We Love You

It is the New Year.

With Dad's exact birth date unknown, except for his birth year in 1926, his birthday is defaulted to first January. So in essence, everyone celebrated his birthday at the stroke of midnight.

All the celebrations, fireworks and balloons released on New Year's was celebrated without Dad. He has been in the hospital for over a month now. He pleaded much to return home after staying over at the hospital for the second week.

It was heartbreaking to turn down his request, for there was hope that he would at least recover from his breathlessness that has kept him awake most nights for several weeks prior to his A&E admission to SGH.

The whole family spent New Year's eve and day at the hospital. Dad was termed DIL or under Dangerously Ill List. His condition turned for the worst since Friday.

Since there was nothing more that the doctors at SGH could do for Dad except palliative, we decided to bring Dad back to his home... to his familiar surroundings... his corridor garden, his kitchen, his bed.

Dad has a week to live. It will be miracle to be with him still next week.

I took the afternoon day off work today and headed down to SGH to sign the Terminal Release form after understanding the risks involved and the agreed consensuses from all my siblings and brothers-in-law.

It was heartbreaking to hear him told me that I lied to him about coming home... he said that when I told him that he was going home this afternoon. He did not believe me until the ambulance paramedic told him so.

I did not lie to him. I told him that he needed to stay to receive the antibiotics via PICC line for a month. That was after he had to take TB medications when the doctors suspected that he had TB and isolated him.

That was when his whole body become "de-conditioned" or muscle dystrophy after being confined to the bed; his fighting spirits diminished after isolated in that TB room all by himself for that 2 weeks. The limited visiting hours we had were just not enough to soothe his loneliness.

They told him that it was not TB after that period but another non-contagious TB-like strain; thus the 1 month course of antibiotics they had him switched over.

Dad, lying on the ambulance stretcher, smiled at me... his first smile since his admission into the TB isolation ward, while we were waiting for the ambulance to pull-up at the pick-up point.

On the journey to my parents' home, Dad was in and out of consciousness. My eldest brother and I were in the ambulance with Dad. The paramedic told us to say some prayers for Dad which Dad murmured and followed through together.

It was quite a scary ride because the doctor had already cautioned that he might not make it through the 30 minutes ride home. It was to be a one-way ride home. It will not turn back to the hospital if anything adverse were to happen to Dad along the way.

Knowing Dad, I had faith that he would reach home. I smiled inside wider than anyone I know.

He misses it so much... he loves his home... his plants and be together with Mom. They are inseparable. It is their sanctuary. Their blissful Eden.

He smiled so wide until I could see his dimple when the paramedic told him that we had reached his home. A second smile in a day! That was glorious to witness.

We had the 3-crank hospital and the oxygen concentrator ready, waiting for him at home. All things were done within the span of few hours upon the receipt of news from the doctor that Dad was not going to make it past this week.

All the family members came... stopped their daily life's chores to be with Dad. Many relatives came by too. Giving prayers and lent Mom a crying shoulder.

It was a solemn afternoon affair but personally, I was not able to stop to feel those moments because I was in the middle of all the arrangements and co-ordinations... include a quick, crash-course on nursing care with my other siblings.

I made myself memorise... with much difficulty, the names of the medicines that Dad is given, including the 5-day duration portable pump for his IV morphine being dispensed consistently via his PICC line.

For now, Dad's condition is stable but we know only for a while longer...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing Everyone
A Wonderful Year
Of Peace & Good Health
Happiness & Closeness
With Family & Friends

Happy 2010!