Saturday, October 12, 2019

Lived, loved, lost and learned

Image from Instagram

I've been stuck in a sort of time warp.  After the last few years of doing basically the same thing daily, it was a challenge to get out of that routine.

Watching Netflix, reading and playing online games helped to kill time. Not even the unusually busy moments of travelling, to and fro, to see my children and grand-daughter could truly shake me out of the rut that I seemed to be in.  

For a while now, I've realised that I didn't have much to talk about because a big part of my world used to revolve around my MIL. Her illness, medications, welfare and well-being were all things that were paramount in my life.  So much so that when she died, I didn't know what else to talk about.  She was the main topic of most conversations.  She was what I knew about best.

It took me a while to make my MIL the focal point of my life.  Somehow that made it easier for me to see to her. I didn't realise that I no longer have to do that anymore.  Maybe it was my own personal way to grief.  

I seem to have been a bystander in my own life.  The arrival of a beautiful grand-daughter can now take centre stage. She has changed the family dynamics but somehow she was sharing it with a great-grandmother that she will never ever know.

I should let the past move into a corner where memories are stored. 

I should make new ones.

I should move on.

I should become the irritating grandmother with ooohs and aaahs about everything my grand-daughter does.

I should save what I can remember of Cayla's great-grandmother Myra.  When Cayla is old enough, we can tell her bedtime stories about the fond memories shared.  

Yes, that's what I can do.  Let go of the old.  Hold on to the new.  And yet bind them together.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Myra Agnes Wheatley

📷 by Jared

Mom Myra has been gone a year.  It has been twelve months of living life differently since she passed away.  

We missed her most when Cayla was born because she predicted a baby girl for Jared and Gwen, long before Cayla was even conceived.  But we also knew that if she was still around, it would not have been possible for us to be in KK for the birth of our first grand-daughter.  It's a bittersweet thought.

While she was alive, our plans revolved around her.  Period.  There was never any question about this as far as Stephen and I were concerned.  Either one of us but usually both of us stayed put for every Mother's Day, Birthday, Christmas, New Year, and whatever else was being celebrated!

Mom spent her last and 82nd birthday (14 August 2018) in hospital.  In fact, in the wee hours of the morning, she was wheeled in for some procedure.  Stephen and I waited anxiously for her and she came back to her bed, in the late afternoon, slightly disoriented but also grumpy.  For us, it was a good sign.  She took one small piece of cake which was a gift from the hospital but refused anything more.  She was just tired from being there since 3 August 2018.  She kept asking to go back to her nursing home.  She said that it was her home and that the people there would miss her.  She wasn't wrong because the manager and nurses treated her like family.  The Econ family were always concerned for her well-being.  Mom was blessed that she always had good people taking care of everything.  That would include Stephen and me because we made all the critical decisions about her health.

When she was discharged on 16 August 2018, she was so happy to return to her bed and to see the familiar faces.    We also felt a sense of relief that she was back in her comfort zone.  Nearly two weeks in hospital was no fun for her or for us.

📷 by Stephen
Mom's left hand was often like this picture.  Whenever I could, I'd peel the three fingers out and massage them slightly.  She'd move it around when she heard music.  
Taken on 15 July 2018

Mom and Stephen sang together on different occasions but the last time was on 21 August.  They sang Ramona and Jinkli Nona and everyone was laughing and smiling.  All those on that floor enjoyed the positive vibration it sent around.  It was a sweet moment for her, for all the other residents, and the nurses.  I think mom had the best interaction with Stephen because he knew how to make her happy and he could entertain her with his shenanigans.  It was also the last time that Stephen would see her animated like that.  On 23 August, mom went into a sleepy mode.  She was less responsive and later unresponsive.  We were told to expect the worst.  Nobody thought she would make it through that weekend.  Jared and Gwen arrived from KL to be with us and to see their grandma.  Her situation didn't change much and they left on 26 August with a heavy heart but also knowing that they couldn't do anything more.

It was hard for them to see this usually sprightly woman just laying there. It was also very difficult for us to see mom as anyone other than her spunky self.  She always had a zest for life and living.  She fought so hard to be better and I don't know anyone else with so much grit and determination.

Over the last six years that I had spent nearly every day with her, a feat of which I can proudly claim, I learnt about who she was, in a very personal way.  She was selfless in many aspects, generous to a fault, and yet full of dignity as a woman.  She always put on a brave front and was fearless in the face of adversity.  

Mom Myra and I weren't close when I first married Stephen and never would I imagine that we would one day get to a place of mutual respect and admiration.  She often told people I was her daughter.  There is a crooked road we follow sometimes and if we stay on course, it could lead us to one where the view is lovely and peaceful.  I'd like to think this is the road we both travelled.

I always reassured mom that I would be there for her, especially in those last months.   When she was still alert, she was always loving and caring.  She always told me to go home and rest, to not worry about her and to be with Stephen.  Towards the end, when she was mostly sleeping, I hoped that knowing Stephen and I were sitting there by her bedside, made her feel some comfort.  All we are sure of is that we did our best.  We are told that we did do our best but what is more important is that we believe we did all that we could for her; especially after being told she wouldn't even make it through 2016. She hung on for 2 years more. 

When she went downhill and was in a kind of limbo, we played songs from her church-going days and whether she was able to interact with us or not, she was able to hear the music and lyrics.  We hoped it would keep her thoughts focussed on our loving God.  Sometimes those songs were for our own spirit: to remember that we have to trust God's timing and to let go.

Almost exactly one month after being discharged, mom passed away at 01.40 am on 17 September 2018.  Peacefully.  I say this without exaggeration because there was no pain, no struggling, but just slowly easing away to the other side.

On 16 September night, as per normal, the nurses would update me around 10 pm about her condition and we felt that it was necessary to go check on her because she seemed to show a sudden deterioration.  We didn't know if it was the right thing to do.  We didn't even know if it meant anything after many episodes of thinking it was that time.  We thank God for the wisdom to have followed our instincts.  I had never been at the bedside of anyone who passed away. Mom's BP and SpO2 were low and sometimes undetectable by the respective devices.   Even at that stage, I still thought she would make it through the night.  It seemed sudden because when we left her in the late evening, all her readings were still in the acceptable range. 

Just before she pulled her last breath, mom lifted her right hand in the air, after being motionless and almost lifeless for the last few days.  When she did that, I had a moment of confusion.  I wondered if she had wanted to speak or if she was in pain?  Then the nurses rushed over and said that mom had gone.  I didn't cry.  I couldn't.  It was so unexpected even if it was expected.  I just stood there feeling numb.  I just saw life abruptly end for someone I had come to love and respect.  It was a humbling and unexplainable moment.

Mom had a beautiful send off.  She had always spoken freely of what she wanted and even had an outfit chosen.  Three days and two nights at the void deck of her choice, behind the church, for friends and family to pay their last respect.  A meaningful mass celebration in her beloved church was held on 19 September.  Then finally her ashes laid to rest in the sea, off Changi Point on 20 September.  It is good that we didn't have to second guess each other.  Mom made it easy for us until the end.

And little did we know, this hand was there.  It wasn't always there but somehow this is where it is now!  How poignant and co-incidental that this would be mom's final home!  With the finger pointing to the heavens and a reminder that it's like the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle of mom's life.  

📷by Stephen
We talk about her still.  

We miss her still.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Deja vu moments

Image from WWW

I was watching TV when I looked at the clock; it was just after 2 pm.  I had a bit of sudden deja vu.

There was a long period when my eye would always be on the clock as I usually had to leave the house at 3 pm to catch a bus to Toa Payoh Central,  get some snacks, and then catch another bus to see my MIL Myra.

At that time, my life was separated into before, during, and after visits.  Things ran like clockwork.  It became the norm for my daily routine.

Today, I suddenly had the inclination to jump up and get ready but I had no need to.  That phase of my life is over now.  It's strange how old habits unexpectedly kick in, out of the blue. 

So I got online to view old video clips and photos of her.  I am so glad that I had that time with her.  Those moments are my treasures.   

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Five is enough!

Image from WWW
My immediate family nucleus is small.  There are just five of us: four adults and one baby. 

There are only just, literally, a handful of us and we are immensely blessed to be able to connect daily and to have conversations about what goes on in each other's lives.

Truly it is a little world with only five citizens!  It is also a private world.  Ever since I left Facebook, I hardly know what's going on with other people and I suppose the same applies that they don't know what is going on with me.  In a way, it is a nice change from what it was before.

I'm not completely cut off from everyone because I use whatsapp but it's less intrusive.

Those that stay in touch, get information and/or pictures that are new.  Somehow it seems to be a more intimate setting; to selectively share details rather than publishing for all and sundry to view.  I used to feel that the more I showed or shared, the better but not anymore.

My family is truly a little world created, and also filled, with love.  Sometimes I am so happy that I need to pinch myself.

I thank my God for everything. 

Friday, August 02, 2019

Already August 2019

Image from Instagram

January to July of 2019 has really been filled with loads of ups and downs.  And just like that, August is here!

Out of these 211 days, I spent 74 days away!
  • 19 days (13Jan-31Jan) in KL
  • 14 days (10Mar-24Mar) in KK
  • 3 days (9Apr-11Apr) in KL
  • 6 days (15Apr-20Apr) in KK 
  • 24 days (12Jun-5Jul) in KL
  • 8 days (6Jul-13Jul) in KK
Just about one-third of these seven months was spent moving around.  It was such an intense time of travelling and waiting at the airport.

Will I be going to KL again?  Yes. 

Will I be going to KK again?  Yes.

And so begins the next plan for my next visit.  Sometimes life can be so unpredictable.  If you had asked me this time, last year, if I had any travel plans, I'd have laughed.

Let's see what August brings.  I'm excited and looking forward to keeping the momentum but only after I've relaxed a bit with doing nothing.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

100 days, 4 months and 7 years!

Image from WWW

I wasn't counting but I was told that my brother has been gone for 100 days.  It somehow seems surreal that he isn't around.  We hadn't been physically or emotionally close these last years.  But we always kept in touch with bits and pieces of news.  My last conscious memory of being with him was when he was still in the hospital.  I said I'd see him again after my trip to Sabah.  I hadn't imagined that I would see him at his funeral.  For all that we shared, during the good and bad times, I feel a sense of loss; not a tangible one but a kind of sadness that lingers.  

As with every death, the process of letting go is a personal one. For me, it started when I deleted his name from my list of contacts.  When I type in the letter "T", I notice his name no longer appears and somehow still serves as a reminder that he's gone.  I'll miss him from time to time but I'm glad he is no longer suffering.

On a happier note, my grand-daughter is 4 months old.  She is the epicentre in our lives. I use this word liberally because for Stephen and me, she causes earthquake waves of joy.  There is nothing she can do that doesn't make us gush with pride.  As Stephen says, "even her crying is cute".  I'm not so sure of that.  Now that she is back in KL, we will visit her more because it's nearer.  Having said this, our three trips to Sabah were just lovely and a nice break from our routine in Singapore.  We wouldn't have wanted to miss that holiday time either.  But now that she's closer, we're already thinking of when we will go and see her.  

It's exciting to be grandparents.  It is unexplainable feelings of complete and utter bliss to have a grandchild.  It is everything and more that we could ever have imagined.  She doesn't know it yet but her Pops (as he will be called) will be putty in her hands.  Oh well, happy days are ahead for her and, I suspect, for him too.

I almost cannot believe that 7 years ago, I started this blog after my previous one had a glitch.  Neither would it have been possible for me to know that today would be a triple kind of memory anniversary.  We never really know what the future holds and I like what Maya Angelou says about being present in the present.  If I will be honest, it pretty much sums up the 3 events today: forgivingly, prayerfully and gratefully.  

And with that in mind, I remember what my brother once said to me many, many years ago, "let the dead rest in peace and the living go on living".  

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Culture of complain

Image from WWW

Complaining is such a pervasive culture.

Often I hear people talk about all their issues; without once saying what they are doing about it.  

The habit of counting all their problems and not ever looking at possible solutions doesn't do much.  Sometimes when a suggestion is made, the quick reply would be, "cannot be done".  How nice it would be if instead, the reply was, "tried that".  

Everyone wants a quick fix.  More precisely, they want a winning lottery ticket but if you ask them if they had bought a ticket, they would say, "No".  

Life isn't always easy but I've learnt that complaining doesn't make it better.

Do I still complain?  Perhaps I do, unconsciously.  Will I do something about it?  Yes, because to complain without doing anything doesn't help.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Full of thankfulness!

Image from WWW

This is the longest that I haven't posted on my blog.  Not that nothing has happened but maybe because so many things were happening!  

Two months of ups and downs!  I guess it is part of being alive.  We can't always have plateaus or flatlines: otherwise it would be boring or we would be dead.

I am always mindful that I should focus on the blessings in my life.

I have a lot to be grateful for in this life.  

Recently I turned 60 and Stephen did ask me what I wanted.  It's hard to know because I don't have a bucket list of things that I want.  I have all that I need.  I'm easily satisfied like that.

But thinking about this a bit more, I realise that what I have is a continuous gift from Stephen.  He gives me a life that I thoroughly enjoy.  It's a gift that I don't take for granted. 

I give thanks today.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

A hattrick for March 2019

Image from WWW

Goal 1 ~ First time that I had lived in a hotel for two weeks; fourteen days of almost doing nothing!  Bliss!

Goal 2 ~ First time I touched sixty years of age.  Yes!  Six decades on this planet earth.  It was nice to have celebrated my birthday in beautiful Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Goal 3 ~ First time becoming a grandmother and welcoming the arrival of our grand-daughter, Cayla Gail Cheow.  Stephen and I are overwhelmed by everything about her.

I told Jared and Gwen that this is the best gift ever: a gift that will keep growing and growing.  

Image from WWW
We had breakfast with this view nearly every day.  Except for the morning of the day that Cayla Gail was born.  She is more important than food!!!

I do miss it.  I also miss the buffet spread even if I'm not a breakfast person.  I did enjoy the wide selection of local and western delights and being spoilt for choice with fruits and breads galore.  

And after breakfast, we usually return to the room and I always choose to sit by the window to enjoy the view and just feel thankful for all the blessings in my life.  I would usually read a bit while Stephen would wander off to the sauna or gym.  
I took this picture. 

For my birthday dinner, Stephen took me to the Club Lounge.  Just us, because I'm not a party person and I like things quiet and simple.

We chose to sit by the window looking at the setting sun.  This was a moment of bliss for me.  As I took in all the ups and downs in my life, I could see that it has led me to this particular place in time.  I am feeling contented with all who are around me and with me.

There weren't many people, at any one time but it made the ambience quiet and romantic!  I would like to go back again with the children.  The setting is so elegant and the food was absolutely delicious.

While not a drinker by any stretch of the imagination, I did indulge in this Singapore Sling.  I had never ever tried it even after living in Singapore for over 7 years now.  I decided that I like it very much and had two!  Heck!  I'm sixty only once!

And then, stepping out on the balcony, we had this magnificent and glorious sunset for an unforgettable and fitting close to my celebration of 60 years of living.   
I took this picture.  God's masterpiece.

At the end of any day or year or milestone, we need to reflect on all that is good in our lives.  We also need to be thankful to the people who love us, unconditionally.  

Thank you to God for an absobloominglutely unforgettable celebration of love and life.  I am so blessed.  I am so very blessed.

Guess what?  We're going back to KK again, soon!!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Of Love and Coffee

Image from WWW

Life isn't perfect!  

It isn't always fun and uncomplicated but it can still be great!

Sometimes we have to take great over perfect and know that this makes for a good life.

Most mornings, I am asleep while my husband makes the coffee.

Most mornings, I wake up to the smell of coffee even before I open my eyes.

Most mornings, I hear my husband tiptoeing around happily getting ready to go to work.

Most mornings, I laze in bed; long after he's planted a kiss on my forehead before leaving.

It's not a perfect life that I have but it sure is a great life when there is love and coffee.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Moving along and moving on

Image from Pinterest

I don't know when I started to feel this way.  I guess with age, does come some wisdom.  A few years ago, I'd be mad and be so annoyed with people and situations but now I can just shrug my shoulders and actually accept it.

Naturally, I may react and brood a bit but these days, I get over it so quickly that life is so much easier now.  

I'm happier and contented with the choices I make.

I realise that the power, to be me, is mine.  I will be who I am, no matter how others are.