Thursday, August 04, 2011

In 10 weeks, the last 10 days

Exactly ten weeks ago, while I was shopping in IKEA for things to move into where I am living at now, I received a call from home telling me about the passing of Grandpa. Ten weeks later now, I am back home.

I have been home for ten days. The last ten days of her life.


In the afternoon on the day after the evening I arrived, I drove Mum and 小阿姨 to University Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC). The hospital was crisp clean and adequately decorated. I prepared myself as best as possible with Mum prepping me,
"Tell you first ar, 婆婆 looks very different to the last time you saw her."


I turned the knob to push the door open.
She did not realise that it was me. I called out again.

"唉, 你回来了?"
A big smile flashed across her face. Her tired eyes sparkled in the light.

It was heart-breaking to see how much effort it took her to breathe. And when she coughed, it felt like every ounce of energy left in her would be drained away.

A young doctor, Dr. Tan, came in to talk to everyone for a good half hour. Nice chap from Penang, he made sure she received everything she requested. He managed to get her approval to have her stay until the latest Friday, so that he could ascertain the morphine dosage that was required.

She laughed at jokes. She ate the slices of watermelon she asked for. She tried to sleep.

On the way home, 小阿姨 noted that it has been some time since anyone saw her in such a happy mood.
Who would not be happy to see someone they have not seen in a long time?


The next day, she suddenly requested to return home. No, demanded. And that was just 15 minutes after she told Dr. Tan that she would continue her stay at UMSC. We all knew, her time is near.

I rushed over with Dad as soon as I locked up the centre. The ambulance was still there. Two of my aunts were red in the face from their crying. 小阿姨 told me to say some nice things to her, to let her know what a wonderful person she has been.
My voice quivered. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had to quickly exit the room before my tears rolled down my cheeks.


Thursday and Friday were days that passed by slowly for us. She drifted in and out of consciousness and her breathing was heavier than before. It was obvious that it was getting harder and harder for her to breathe.

She was in her best condition that weekend. With Cousin Meng Cheng bringing her baby Kevin to visit his great-grandmother, as well as Cousin Pei Qi with her baby Yang Yang, the atmosphere lightened up significantly. She finally got to see the fourth generation of her family. I remember telling Mum on the way back to the centre to be prepared even more.


Mum rang to ask where I was. I told her that I was working at home and asked if she needed me to be at the centre. She said that I should stay home to get some work done and would ring me only if she would not be able to make it back to the centre in time to lock up.

6:25pm. I felt something amiss. Mum has not rang me. Why did she not require my help? I rang her and heard her all groggy from the powerful effect of the medication she consumed.
"Stay there. I am coming down right now. 10 minutes."
I have never seen Mum in such state. She did not even have strength to walk and talk properly. I felt absolutely helpless.


Bro came home to tell Dad that he just visited and things do not seem very good over that side.

"I think we had better dapau some food to bring to your Mum first then only deposit the money."


"Wah, so many cars today? Everyone must be here tonight!"

"Hm, something's not right."
"Mummy didn't call you?"

I rushed into the room. I quickly kneeled down and joined in the chanting.
"南无啊弥陀佛... 南无啊弥陀佛... 南无啊弥陀佛... "
45 minutes later, there was no movement.

10:00pm, August 3, 2011, Grandma ended her painful battle with lung cancer with many us in the room with her.

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