Saturday, August 07, 2010
Phases Of Life
Today, Mom called me at work as usual to chat.
But today, our usual chats had become a little more than casual. It was heavier. It was more like a last plea to me than anything else.
Yes, a plea.
She has always been adamant to stay put in her home, even after Dad's passing in early January this year. Mom and our late Dad had lived in their house for more than seven years. It was their third home after living for over twenty years in their four-room flat in Tampines Street 22.
Their first home together was in the village. That was the place many of her children, including me, were born at. I do not recall ever seen or heard her being sad leaving the village home after the government took over for redevelopment.
I do however, have been constantly reminded by her that she misses both her Tampines and the current one in Woodlands.
If she had her way, she would not have moved from her Tampines home. But after their last child, my youngest brother, left the house after he got married, the house was just too big to maintain and after more than twenty years there, it was in need of a refurbishment than anything else.
Both Mom and Dad made a decision to get a smaller flat but within Tampines neighbourhood. Yet the property prices in the east was just too hot. It made no sense to downgrade to a smaller flat but have virtually make no money from it.
The flat in Woodlands estate was a good find and definitely a good bargain. Having a balance money of more than fifty thousand after subtracting the full price of the flat, renovations and new furniture, both of them were living debt free with money to spare in their golden age.
After living in Woodlands for just over seven years, with many new memories both of them had made there, we can totally understand Mom's reluctance to move anywhere else. Much less living under somebody's roof, even though it is one of her children.
Our parents had always been very close. They spend their time together and never had spent time apart for long. The only memories of them being apart were during Dad's hospitalization days when he had his scooter accident, his heart attack and the times he was admitted to treat complications when he was suffering from cancer.
We were fortunate that our eldest Niece was able to live with her together at our parents' home. All was well until she had to change jobs. With her new job, she has to work on three rotating shifts that will leave Mom home alone most nights.
We thought of hiring a maid to live with Mom, but with all the scary stories of what had gone wrong with so many people with maids from relations and friends, and even in newspapers, we just could not take that chance with Mom.
As a last resort, just so if Mom really could not adjust herself to her new environment, we had quietly discussed with our Niece if she could stay with her grandmother again but this time with a maid as well.
Our Niece could keep an eye on the maid while the maid takes care of our Mom and the house.
My siblings have agreed to pool our money together to pay for the maid's monthly salary if it had to come to that. Though it may be a little taxing on some of our family members to fork out extra money for this, each and everyone was willing to commit.
Tonight, Youngest Brother will drive Mom to 3rd Sis' place in Sengkang.
From our chats, Mom had finished packing her stuff into the luggage bag we bought earlier for her. All her medicines were already packed too and all the perishables in the fridge were thrown out.
4th Sis and our nieces were there during at Mom's home during the weekdays to help her pack and clean the house before leaving. So too were the many potted plants at the corridor that were of Dad's.
Many of the plants have been adopted by my siblings. I too have taken four pots... a pots of China Jasmine and local Jasmine each, a large Pandan and the always flowering, always cheerful purple periwinkle to add to my own corridor garden.
Dad's sweet smelling Jasmine plants were what got me started to have eight of them in my own garden we bought from a nursery at Simpang Bedok a few months back.
Unfortunately, the few plants that are left will have to be dumped at the dumpster as there is no one to be there daily to water them. The corridor will be bare just as Mom described it when Dad was no longer around.
"I can't bear to leave this house." Mom sobbed over the phone.
She said it is the closest thing to Dad. The house, the pots and pans, especially the kitchen where Dad keeps himself aways busy if he was not tending to his garden.
"Come sit with me. Let's have our afternoon tea." Was Dad's usual call to Mom, she said, after hard at work at his garden every morning, taken his bath and their lunch, ready for a sit down at the sofa and admiring the blooms from the living room.
"Please find a way that I could stay here." Was Mom's plea to me that was so heartbreaking to hear. It was hard to get back to work mode after such conversation.
My only answer to Mom was that she try to spend at least a week at 3rd Sis' home to give it a chance. Sis and her whole family are so thrilled to have Mom living with them because they had lived in Mom's place for many years before when they had to sell their home and finally could afford another one.
"Just think of it as spending time with your daughter at her home." I told Mom gently.
"You will not be lonely at all. Sis is always at home and your grandchildren will be there with you everyday." I painted a picture to her. "You'll be cared for and always around the people you love unlike being alone and spending too much time thinking of our loss."
"Give it a try with an open heart, Mom." I pleaded to her instead, "If you honestly cannot adjust to it, then we will have to find you a solution. I promise."
Mom stopped sobering and started talking about the money she should have in her hand and other stuff she might need while she is there, a good turn around even if it was only for a while. Our conversation was cut short when she received an incoming call. It was probably one of my siblings calling to check on her.
"I call you from her home when I'm settled." Mom said before we both said goodbye.