This post is in memory of my late father who passed away on 14th April 2011. It has been 2 weeks now.
I did not get to see my father often, growing up. He was always away for work or went ‘missing’ and I kinda used to not having him around. I especially remember those times when some strangers came to our house looking for him and he would be ‘missing’ for a period of time, yet again. Or when we thought he was leaving to his workplace and suddenly few hours after he left or the very next day (depending on the distance of the location he supposed to go) there would be calls looking for him asking why he has not arrived at his workplace and followed by some ‘stories’ about him, yet again.
Life back then was tough for our family. I have the utmost respect for my mother for shouldering on everything, taking care of the family in what ever possible ways she could. At one point, I gave up and decided not to give a damn about my old man when he yet pulled another trick of him on us. I think it happened just last year. I was very disappointed and angry, rightly so. We siblings are all grown ups now, tired of having the broken record keep playing itself and so I called for a stop, because enough is enough.
Although, ironically funny when I really think about it how at one time I was living the life I despise so much for the reason it was the life that he lives all this while. Trying not to be the person you hate and end up close to be one, you have to love the irony. Life is a bitch like that. Well, I have to thank whatever magic forces out there for spanking me back to the right path, if there’s any.
For the past 1-2 years my father has been staying at home, playing ‘housemaker’, whipping up dishes – one thing he was exceptionally good at, looking after the place while my mother and my younger brother working. And I was a busy wandering nomad and would be back home once or twice in a month, whenever I could make time for it. He would always call me when he knew I would be back for the weekend asking when I would arrive and telling me what dishes awaiting me. I especially love the five-spice meat rolls he made.
Just when I thought this year is going to be the best year for us, well.. apparently not. I couldn’t wait for Chinese New Year last February and I made many arrangements so we could celebrate this year with a bang. I even bought some firecrackers, (I always scold my younger brother for stupidly ‘burning money’), got a new ride, gave my mom early big ang-pow so we could spend a little bit more this year and hopefully it would be great and wonderful new year. Turned out the damn saying that money is not everything is kinda true after all.
It was 2 weeks before Chinese New Year. He was carrying groceries and stuffs he bought for CNY and suddenly he fainted at the front door. The neighbours, my mother and younger brother called an ambulance and rushed him to the hospital. I was working in Bintulu and I went back the next day when I heard the news. I visited him at the hospital, talked to the doctors and they couldn’t be sure what caused him to faint. He was discharged 3 days after that and I went back to work.
2 days before the big dinner for CNY, I received a call from my mother saying that my father fainted again. I was supposed to go back on the next day, so I drove back immediately after I got the news. I went to the general hospital in Sarikei again, checked with the doctors and they couldn’t give any convincing answers so we requested for him to be transferred to Sibu hospital where they have better equipments and facilities to find out what happened to my father. I took the ride in the ambulance to Sibu, accompanied him for the MRI scan and the doctor told me they found 2 lumps in my father’s brain, suspected tumors. My father also complained about the pain at his back and he couldn’t sit or stand and walk due to the pain, which they then found to be his bones have slipped off and cracked. Further check-ups, testings were carried out to confirm the prognosis, my father was admitted to the hospital for a week and I would fetch my mother up and down Sibu – Sarikei during the Chinese New Year period. Doctors suspected my father of having cancer but couldn’t pin point the source, which they needed more testings and time.
I went back to work on the 7th day of CNY after visiting him at the ward. He was discharged on the 9th day of CNY after his back pain subsided, they gave him some medications and went home while waiting for the results to come out. A week later he went to the hospital together with my mother and younger brother to collect the result and he fainted again while chatting with the nurses. This time they got his blood test results ready and after further testings and check ups, it was confirmed he was a Stage 4 liver cancer patient.
I was talking to the doctor on the phone, exploring available options, what were the chances and after considering everything we decided to bring him home to recuperate and we would try to spend more time with him. I was told by the doctor that because it was a Stage 4 liver cancer, he would probably have only another 6-7 months more to live. Starting then I would be sure to make time to go back home every weekends to see him.
A week before he left for a better place, I went home. My mother was telling me he was asking about me the day before and has been grumbling about his messy, uncut hair. He couldn’t walk without assistance at this time, so my mother told him that I would come back at the end of the week and be his barber. Yes, I was a very sought after barber when I was in school and uni, no joke.
After his discharge from the hospital he had not fainted again, until a day before I went back to cut his hair. When I reached home, he was in the room and my mother told me, he fainted in the morning the day before and became very weak ever since. He also seems to be unable to control his toilet business anymore. My younger brother and I went to buy some adult diapers for him. I cut his hair and helped him to shave, then carried him to the bathroom. He was very frail and weak. It was Saturday.
I went back to work on Sunday after telling them I would come back on next Friday to vote. I received a call from my mother on Thursday morning, around 7.50am. My father had been unconscious since 3am in the morning and they have admitted him to hospital and currently in coma. She said she would called me again if there’s any progress and I went to take my shower. 5 minutes after that, when I was still in the shower my phone rang again, it was my mother again. “Your father has left us”, she said.
We have made all the necessary arrangements that followed after. I hope I have done my best as the eldest son in the family.
I would like to thank everyone for their helps, supports and kind wishes during this period. I am forever indebted and deeply grateful for every assistance given. Thank you, again.
Rest in peace, Pa.