Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Awake

I dislike funeral wakes. The mock sad people who say tragic things - he was such a good man…sigh…sigh. The relatives you never see that you have to be nice to. The peanuts on the table. Kua chee. Packs of Yeo’s chrysanthemum tea. If you take away the coffin, you'd mistake it for going visiting during Chinese New Year.

Its something I wouldn’t wish on anyone and certainly not on my junior college class mate C.

For the past few years, C worked In Geneva. I saw him a few months ago and he informed us that he wanted to wrap up his work there and return to Singapore to spend more time with his folks. That was the plan.

Then, last week, he received a call from Singapore. Father had a heart attack. Emergency operation has been done. He took the first flight out and when he reached home, he didn’t get that last glimpse. The wake was being set up.

I could offer no comfort except for the fact that I had recently faced the same thing. I told him that when my dad fell ill, he asked my bro to become the head of the family. Since my dad's demise, that's what my older bro has done more. He helps me out, drives us out for outings and meals and serves as the all round back up man of the house when Gary is away.

So quite practically, I told him that he would have to rise up to take his father's place as head of the home. Just as I uttered that, I felt instantly stupid and inappropriate. Here was someone who had just lost his father and there I was needlessly clucking like a hen? I was doing the wake thing!

We started to talk about his mom. She looked distraught. They were only 2 days shy from his dad's 65th birthday and had been planning birthday celebrations. Unlike my parents, who had grown emotionally separate, they were very close. In that way, my parents had it better in a perverse way, in that my mom didn’t suffer a huge emotional fall out when my dad went. Strange, divorce makes it easier.

======

A few days later, I had coffee with C and his ex girlfriend. He told us a story which his mom told him.

The night before his father had the heart attack, he went on a ‘date’ with his mom. This was quite unusual. Usually, the adult children were around home and they each went about their respective activities. They hardly went out together as a couple. That evening, it was just the two of them, the kids were all out and his father suggested to his mom ”let’s go out for dinner?”.

After dinner, they went for a walk. On the eve of his demise, his 65 year old father held his wife’s hand and asked “Do you regret marrying me?”


Her answer?



Yes
(She had many suitors, choosing him she underwent hardship)

The truthful expression of that anti-romanticism - that she stuck around despite regrets and loved her man to the end totally left me AGAWP.

And as I nervously stirred my cafe latte, it hit me like a ton. So this is what it means to love for a entire lifetime. This is what it means to love as you grow old. Despite regrets. Till death parts.

2 Comments:

Anonymous ivan said...

Seriously, go activate the "word verification" option in your blog:

http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=1203

It's only 2 clicks to activate it.

Anyway, not all wakes are all tears:

http://recentrunes.typepad.com/firstplace/2005/10/requirem.html

7:47 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

Hey Ivan

I just did it. Thanks for the tip and I like that post on your blog especially much.

10:03 AM  

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