LIKE any other morning, Mah Chow Nam took his two-and-a-half-year-old grandson on his motorcycle for breakfast in Kampung Baru Changkat Kruing last Friday.
It was a routine the 69-year-old grandfather and grandson enjoyed, and they also brought home breakfast for grandmother as well.
That morning, Chow Nam borrowed an umbrella from a neighbour on their way home because it was raining.
Sadly, he died shortly after he returned home, said his eldest son, Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon who is Perak executive councillor.
He said his father turned pale and was breathless before he died at home about 10am.
Recalling what happened that morning, Dr Mah, a cardiologist by training, said he was on his way to a temple function in Temoh when he received a call from his youngest brother on his father’s condition slightly past 9am.
He said he could sense that it was something very serious and immediately made arrangements to get an ambulance to send him to the Ipoh Specialist Hospital in Ipoh.
He said he also asked his cardiologist friend in the hospital to standby.
“I managed to speak to my father and his symptoms indicated a heart attack.
“My father was a longstanding diabetic but his condition and cholesterol level was under control all the while.
“He had no other ailments.
“He passed away when medical care arrived at the house,” Dr Mah, who is also Perak MCA chairman, said when met at his father’s wake on Sunday.
Kampung Baru Changkat Kruing in Ayer Tawar, Manjung, is about 80km from Ipoh city centre.
Dr Mah said 25% of diabetics had no signs of heart problems prior to a major heart attack; and his father’s case was a major heart attack with acute pulmonary edema.
Asked whether there was any premonition or signs of feeling unwell on the part of his father, Dr Mah, who was shocked and sad over his father’s sudden demise, said he would not know for sure because his father was the type of parent who did not want to trouble or worry his children.
“While I was staying in Sitiawan during my secondary school days, my parents would visit me once a week instead of allowing me to go home over the weekends.
“They wanted to give their children a good education and wanted us to focus on our studies.
“He was a good man, very honest, sincere and disciplined,” said Dr Mah, 49, the eldest of six siblings, and all of the children made it to tertiary education.
Dr Mah said his father had always been supportive of what he did, including leaving his medical practice for full-time politics in 2009.
“He wanted me to be humble and do my best for the community,” said Dr Mah who is Chenderiang assemblyman.
He said his father, who was a smallholder cultivating oil palm in Ayer Tawar, loved the rural life and was very much attached to the village where he raised his family.
Dr Mah said he would call his parents every other day to talk to them, adding that the last time he saw his father was two weeks before his death.
His grandchildren, Dr Mah said, would also go back to the village to stay there on and off.
Chow Nam had 12 grandchildren and the youngest grandchild was only a few days old.
Dr Mah said the baby and mother were back home in the village for confinement just a few days ago.
“My father loved to bring his grandchildren for a ride on his motorcycle in the neighbourhood in the morning and evening,” he said, adding that this is also a way of life many villagers loved.
Prior to his death, Chow Nam was staying with his wife Lee Kee Hiong, 70, his two-and-a-half-year-old grandson and a maid.
Dr Mah said his father had been active until he breathed his last.
He supervised the workers in his smallholding apart from spending time with his family.
Yesterday, Chow Nam was laid to rest at the Segari Chinese Cemetery in Segari about 1.30pm, after a four-day wake.
The Buddhist funeral rites started at the Mah residence at 10.30am with chantings by monks and prayers by his children, grandchildren and relatives.
MCA members, community leaders, representatives from schools and non governmental organisations as well as friends paid their last respects to Chow Nam.
The hearse and funeral procession left the residence at noon and went round the village for 30 minutes before proceeding to the cemetery.
Leading the procession were two bands from SMJK Ayer Tawar and SJKC Khuen Hean.