Three funerals and a wedding

OVER the last three weeks, my wife and I met relatives and old friends quite frequently. Due to a bizarre twist of fate and bad timing, we were involved with three funerals and a wedding.

The first funeral was due to the passing of my university mate, GH Lim who was in a coma for a few months since he fell and knocked his head. I did not have a chance to say goodbye.

Two days later, my wife’s elder sister Fong was admitted to hospital and later passed away from sudden heart failure. Two funeral wakes within two days. Just when we reached home to rest for the night, news came to my wife that her dad who is 92 years old was bleeding internally. He was immediately warded in the ICU and over the next few days his condition deteriorated to the point that he needed palliative care.

My second son’s wedding was just 10 days away. Invitations had been given out months ago and overseas guests and friends had already booked their flights to Malaysia. Venues and menus had been booked and deposits paid. What were we to do if my father-in-law passed away before the wedding? Major dilemma for the family in view of our Chinese customs and pantang culture.

Luckily we placed my father in law under the care of Dr Nick Chong, a relatively young physician who specialises in palliative care. Dr Chong did what a good doctor should do. He is on top of the situation, calming the family through his detailed WhatsApp messages in the morning and at night when necessary.

Dr Chong understood that the wedding had to proceed and he was trying his best to keep my father-in-law alive and at the same time easing his suffering. The family had consented to his suggestion of non aggressive interference should my father-in-law suffer further setbacks.

The key was to keep him comfortable till his last breath.

Somehow the old man survived. He must have wanted his grandson to have a joyful celebration on his big day. The morning after the wedding dinner, Dr Chong removed the dialysis machine and other apparatus, moved my father-in-law out of the ICU back to a normal ward and gave him some medication to keep him comfortable.

Within 24 hours, he passed on, serene and contented.Hence three funerals and a wedding within three weeks.There are some lessons to be learnt from this series of extraordinary events: In my speech during the dinner, I advised my friends of the same age group to engage a younger doctor to care for them.

No doctor should die before their patients. I also mentioned that I have chosen Dr Chong to be my physician for palliative care. His wife, Rachael, is my oncologist. She is keeping me alive and when my time comes, he will keep me comfortable. More importantly, Dr Chong will keep my family calm and well informed. When faced with inevitable endings, family members suffer more than the patient.

A good palliative doctor will be able to ease the pain of seeing the loss of loved ones.

I did advise my son that his wife is the boss at home just as my wife has shown she is the rock of the family. Together with her siblings, they have looked after their ailing parents and sister for quite some months, taking turns to visit doctors and hospitals practically on a weekly basis. Yet she tirelessly helped my son to organise his wedding and put on a brave front through the many wedding events.

Our Asian culture of filial piety should be nurtured and carried through future generations. Just as your parents loved you unconditionally from young, it is your duty to look after them when they are old and the cycle continues. Just don’t break the cycle for you might not be loved by your own children when you are old.

To the young entrepreneurs, when faced with setbacks and unexpected losses, always stay calm and collected. There will be occasions when unfortunate events happen beyond your control and you have no solution in sight.

Do not get frustrated, let the events unfold and you will just have to ride through the storm. Just remember that after every storm, the sun will shine and the future will again look bright and promising. Just be resilient.

Is our beloved country ailing and sick? The race and religion diseases have permeated into the fabric of our multi racial society and no antibiotics have been found and used.

The future looks bleak as the politicians continue to divide and rule based on racial sentiments whereas some fake religious leaders continue to poison the innocent minds. Self interest is the name of the game.

The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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