Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Unconditional Love

In Good Times And In Bad

Today,  I learnt an important lesson about Unconditional Love from a little love-note Dad had written to Mom as a birthday gift for her this morning, with his fragile, stroke-strickened hand.  That note was scrawled with crooked letters that was barely legible but it was well-strung together to create such a meaningful impact that almost brought tears to my eyes.

This was what the note said - "Elaine, Happy Birthday.  Thank you for the unconditional love and care you've given me.  Bock Chuan"  Such a simple note, but it carried a lifetime of joy, sorrow, laughter, tears, pain and gratification.  This note underscored my parents' lifelong commitment to their marital vows to stick by each other in good times and in bad, for richer and for poorer, till death do they part.

A Commitment

Decades ago, when Dad was incarcerated for months, for "alternative"political views by the establishment, Mum spent those months in a daze, lost in the dark woods of despair, not having Dad beside her to  assure her that everything was going to be okay.  It was her will to keep the family together, that led her to march right up to Dad's boss at work to demand that he continued to pay Dad his salary and to keep Dad's job while we waited for his release from incarceration.   I thought Mum was bold then, but really, she was driven by her love and commitment for Dad.

Today, Mum cares for Dad as his mobility had been affected by what they called, a "silent" stroke.  Naturally, Dad's health deteriorated with age and  because of his condition.  Mum showers, changes and feeds him everyday.  She talks to him and urges him to walk, or rather shuffle, a little, just to get him to be active.  Undaunted by the heavy wheelchair, handicap-unfriendly public transport, staircases everywhere, the blazing sun or a heavy downpour, she made it a point to take him out regularly so that he could still enjoy the great outdoors, meet people, and eat his favourite foods at his favourite restaurants.

Dad's mind is still lucid although a little slow, and sometimes he might look a little dazed and confused because he needed more time to process information that he sees or hears.  However, it must be true love, that rendered it needless to process this.  Their housekeeper, Marites, on learning that my Aunt Shirley was returning to Singapore for a visit from Seattle, asked Dad what Aunt Shirley looked like.  Marites had never met Aunt Shirley and was curious to know if Mum and Aunt Shirley looked alike, as  sisters should.  So Marites asked Dad who was prettier, Aunt Shirley or my Mum.  Dad immediately retorted that Mum was prettiest!  Mum laughed so hard and one could see her face lighting up like a school girl having a crush when she heard that.

Guiding My Marriage With The Same Commitment

The commitment between Mum and Dad have truly inspired me to guide my own marriage that way.  I hope David and I will grow old together holding each others hands in good times and in bad, for richer or for poorer the way Mum and Dad did.  In fact, I don't hope, I know I will because David said the other day to me, " I don't always like being married, but I love being married to you."

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 44 years old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 20 year old son.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when loosely translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".

Dad and Mum on their wedding day on 27 Dec 1968...hmm...interesting..it doesn't add up...I was born on 1 Aug 1969!

Can't remember when this was taken, but clearly Dad was looking like "Da Boss!"

Dad and Mum at Gardens By The Bay when it first opened in 2012. Mum looked like "Da-Boss" now!

Dad and I enjoying a bit of father-daughter banter on 13 August 2013 after celebrating Mum's birthday with a scrumptious dinner

Dad's love-note to Mum, scribbled with his fragile hands that can't even feed himself with ease.
Now, that's  unconditional love.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Enjoying A Very Long Weekend

Vacations Are A Waste Of Time

I am a nightmare to my team at work on my days off.  I usually spend my vacation time feverishly responding to emails on my Blackberry,  sending them on  panic-stricken wild goose chase around the office in their bid to respond to my decisions made remotely while on vacation.

If you thought I was a nightmare to my team at work on my days off, you should have a chat with my family who would usually revolve their time and schedule around my vacation time so that they could get some conversation time with me.  Usually by the end of that vacation, the husband might be looking for a butter knife in an attempt to slit his wrist, or the boy might decide to elope with a local girl.  All these just because I kicked up a fuss about the Angkor Wat not having any WiFi, or perhaps the nearest Starbucks in Siem Reap was an ocean away back in Singapore.

My vacation time was never fun, I never felt relaxed and I felt that there was more stress while on vacation than when I was at the office.  Having a day off was definitely frivolous and decadent to me.  I saw it as a complete waste of time when I could do so much more with my time.

My Stressful Moments

However, in the last few months, as I was thrown into a neck-breaking schedule of balancing the management of a huge project at work with my Tarot coaching and reading appointments,  there were so many stressful matters on the family front that had been simmering under the surface within my environment.  

Joel had a "meltdown moment" with his nursing course.  While he loved the hands-on practical side of nursing during his industrial attachment at the hospital, he disliked the academic aspects of studying for the examinations.  It did not help that one of his course mates had decided to quit the course halfway to pursue other interests.  I could see despondency and confusion setting in his mind.  Clearly my boy needed me.

My grandmother had a fall 2 weeks ago in the bathroom and broke her wrist.  The accident affected her ability to walk and because she needed physiotherapy, she was warded in the hospital for 2 weeks, with her arm in a sling.  Granny is a spritely old lady with a mind and a spirit of a 25 year old.  Most of her misery at the hospital was due to the fact that she did not have many people to talk to and worse, she could not play mahjong.  This was compounded with the fact that half the family were residing overseas hence leaving Granny with only a few people who could care for her.   Clearly, my granny needed me.

During those 2 weeks when Granny was in the hospital, my Mum did the grand tour of hospitals in Singapore because Dad was also checked into one to get his Glaucoma fixed and he had to have medical check-ups before and after that surgery.  Dad and Mum clearly needed me.

Then there was David.  This hubby extraordinaire  had been standing by as my pillar of support.  He fetched and sent me to the hospital to visit Granny,  accompanied me to visit Mum and Dad, counselled Joel during that meltdown, and throughout all that, I forgot that he needed me too.  David usually took on work stress in his quiet and stoic way.  I was the more verbose of the pair and would be talking at length about how stressful work was or how upset I was about Granny's fall or Dad's surgery or Joel's meltdown.  In the Tarot world, I called David my King of Cups (more on the King of Cups can be found on the post dated 12 Aug. 2013 at www.facebook.com/SunGoddessTarot), always calm, composed and nurturing.  I was on the other hand always high-strung and perpetually dramatic about everything happening around me.  

So I had decided that vacation time was not about toting the camera to climb Mt Kinabalu or slathering on the sunblock whilst sipping on a glass of pina colada by the pool.  My vacation time was quality time with the family just doing nothing but enjoying the moment with them.

Much To Be Thankful For

Incidentally, Singapore celebrated its 48th National Day last week  with a long weekend that coincided with another public holiday when my Muslim friends celebrated Eid al-fitr ( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Fitr ).  I love long weekends because it meant I had more time to blog, walk the dogs, sleep in, and wake up to a scrumptious brunch.  However, this National Day celebrations got me thinking about how much I was thankful for.  We were in a stable and prosperous country, with an eclectic mix of races that provided me with friends from all walks of life and my family was safe and happy.

So I had decided to make the long weekend even longer, by taking another 2 days off work to enjoy some time with the family.  It was timely also because I wanted to make time to celebrate Mum's birthday with a day dedicated to pampering her.

My Very Long Weekend

So my very long weekend was spent:

1) reminiscing with Granny while visiting her at the hospital, about that silly time when she had decided to purchase a scooter to relive her youth.  I remembered she fell off that scooter while riding it and ended up with a fracture too;

2) gallivanting around town with Joel to find accessories for his newly constructed terrarium.  I cannot understand his sudden love for plants.  I might have rubbed it off on him;

3) tending to wee pots of Lavendar, Strawberry, Caribbean Chilli Pepper and Coffee together with Joel.  As a birthday present, Joel got me some dirt...yes, dirt, and some seeds so that I could cultivate my green fingers on my days off;

4) watching Dad's favourite programme, Ellen together with Dad.  I cannot understand Dad's obsession with Ellen DeGeneres, but he loved her humour and it thrilled me to see Dad laughing heartily while watching her antics on her talk-show;

5) flying kite with David at the Marina Barrage.  Let me rephrase that.  David would be struggling with getting the kite up while I held on tightly to the dogs for fear that one of the wee dogs might get entangled onto a neighbouring kite-flyer's  kite-string and fly away into the sunset;

6)  having dinner and drinks with our BFFs because one of them was celebrating her first National Day as a new Singaporean. Ok, being originally Malaysian and always claiming that our Singapore national dishes were actually Malaysian, she was too embarrassed to have her Singaporean status made too publicly known, so I would spare her by not mentioning her name here;

7)  spending the day with Mum, taking her out for a shopping spree, enjoying a scrumptious lunch with her, introducing her to the world of cafe au lait, cafe lungo, cafe piccolo and cafe latte and just having a nice mother-daughter talk about the trials and tribulations of being a mother.

Enjoying My Days Off

My days off spent most simply are always the best.  No expensive shopping trips and exotic beaches could replace the time spent with the family.  Because I had sufficient time to catch up with my family and enjoy every moment I had with them in the last week, I am now more ready than ever to go back to work very much recharged, re-energized and well-rested.

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want. " ~Bill Watterson,   Calvin and Hobbes

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 44 years old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 20 year old son.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when loosely translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".

David and I enjoying a picnic with the mutts.  Spot that kite all tightly rolled up waiting to be flown?