This date marks an anniversary for me now. The anniversary of the passing of my dad.
This is what happened....
I dropped my son as usual at 6:35 am at my parents place. Daddy and mummy moved down to PJ late last year to help me ferry and care for my son who was to start Standard 1 this year. At his grandparents place, my son would have his breakfast prepared by my dad and dress up for school, with grandma's assistance and then grandpa will send him to school. So while my mum was helping him dress up, my dad went up to change and get ready to send my son to school. He went up around 7:10 am. Close to 7:20, with no sign of my dad, my mum went upstairs to check on him. This part of the story I heard from my mum. She went upstairs and saw my dad lying on the floor beside the bed. He was lying on his side, his comb not too far away from his hand. His pants was wet. My mum cried out! Having heard grandma, my son ran upstairs. I am not sure what happened at this juncture but my mum must have told my son that grandpa has fainted.
My son told my mum not to worry and rushed to the bathroom to bring handfuls of water to splash on my dad's face. He shook and shook my dad and told my dad to get up and bring him to school.
"The sun is up, time to get up, kung kung!"
"Cannot sleep already, I will be late for school!"
These were the cries of my innocent 6+ year old boy.
My mum called everyone she knew.
My neighbor was the first to arrive, having been roused by my husband to check what was happening. He told me that he jumped out of bed, washed his face, changed his clothes and rushed next door. He even forgot to brush his teeth. As soon as he arrived, my husband and my daughter arrived as well. Victor went up first soon to be followed by my husband. I learnt a few days later when I saw my son performing the same action on his sister that Victor attempted CPR. Victor later told me that when he arrived, my dad's hands and head were already cold. The only warmth he felt was near my dad's heart. Between my husband and Victor, they tried ways to resuscitate him. They also took turns calling hospital after hospital as well as the police in an attempt to get an ambulance to the house. The kids I heard were very good. Keeping to themselves and not being a bother.
I received the call from mummy at 7:23 am. I dropped everything and rushed home. On my way home, I kept praying that this was just a matter of low blood pressure and he would just need some glucose drip or something. Let everything be okay, I kept repeating it in my head. Driving keeps one from using the phone but when I reached the Sunway toll, there was a bad jam. So, I picked up the phone to call my husband. He picked at the 2nd attempt. I asked him about the kids. And I also asked him what was happening. It was all good until I asked him the last question. "Is daddy breathing very faint?" Silence speaks clearer than any words. My tears fell unchecked. I called my sis.
In my head while I was waiting for her to pick up the call, I heard myself think "Daddy will not be with us in Singapore!" (We were in the midst of planning our first overseas trip. It was supposed to be HK as promised by my dad to my son. But we opted for Singapore Sentosa Island instead. It would have been out first family trip overseas.)
They were also caught in a jam and my bro inlaw was driving. So my sis could spend some time calming me down. I was never so aware of the need to drive careful than that time. My sis arrived at home first. I learnt from hubby that between the 3 of them men, they heaved my dad into my sister's car and made their way to Damansara Specialist Hospital. I arrived shortly after and parked my car at the house. Jumped into hubby's car and we decided to drop the kids at my daughter's (and my son's ex) kindergarten. The principal was kind enough to take both of them in and take care of them until evening.
Since I was no longer driving, I could make some calls. One to our pastor for prayer. A few messages to church members for prayer. I received a call just as we were parking from my bro inlaw asking me to hurry to the emergency ward. My hands were shaking and my heart was beating so fast. When I arrived, my mum exclaimed "Daddy has died, Ann!" My sis and mum were crying. Strangely I felt calm. To a certain extent I had already cried. I told mummy "It is okay, mummy. He lead a good life and he died a quick death. He did not suffer. It was the way he wanted to go." I noticed that my mum was immediately comforted and she stopped crying. In a way a little positiveness does help in situations of hopelessness. It was my way of coping and I hoped it was a way my mum could cope, at least for that very moment.
How the news spread was beyond me. We made a few calls to my dad's friends. And the news spread from one person to another so much so we had calls from people all over Malaysia.
Being new to the church in PJ and it being troublesome to bring the body back to Ipoh (to the church my dad spent 10 over years of his life), we asked if the pastor who baptized my dad could also bury him. He obliged and agreed that we should bury and not cremate him. Although my dad did mention he would like to be cremated, it was something we never talked seriously about. So, due to circumstances, we decided to buy a twin plot in Semenyih and bury him in the Christian Memorial Park. We came to realize that embalming packages bought in advance cost cheaper. And empty plots for burial are sorely limited and come at a high price. The embalming itself cost us 14K (21K if not bought in advance. But we bought 2, one for my mum so forked out 28K this time round), another 20K for the burial process and about 32K for the plot of land. The manager from Nirvana that saw to us was very kind and that really helps. So, best to do all of these in advance and determine the person you want to deal with and hope when you need to, that person is still working there.
The day of his death, we spent a lot of time at the bank. Everything, even though it had joined names, had to be cancelled. Only those things that had nominee we could afford to leave it for now. And Fixed Deposits have a tendency to be very troublesome - dependent on branch made, account branch and amount. We realized later that Maybank has this surviving clause where if the account is in joint name, the surviving member gets full sum of the account. In other banks, the surviving member gets only half. The other half dependent on the will.
We completed all the banking on Thursday at 11 am. Took a quick bite and made our way to Nirvana Sungai Besi. The embalming takes about 1 day so it was about the right time for us to perform the customary dressing up. Fastening the button of daddy's coat reminded me of the time when daddy put on my veil when I was getting married. The act of preparing the person for their biggest change in life. Although you are sad to see your kid getting married, you still have to let them go. I was saying goodbye to daddy. It would be the last time I get to touch him. There is some parting in performing this act. All necessary actions in the process of saying goodbye.
After which we choose the casket and finalized details of the wake service. It was to start that evening 7th August at 8:30 pm. Having done all that, we rushed to Semenyih to choose the burial plot. They say it is better to go there and decide for yourself rather than use digital images to decide. The look and feel of where you want your daddy to be resting. We chose based on convenience, the plot is near the road. We chose based on the fact that there was a healthy tree growing nearby. We chose based on how well the neighbor kept their plot. We were asked to make a decision at this time too. If we would like to have the casket put in, and then soil, and then cement slabs and then soil again. OR casket, cement slabs, then only soil on top. We decided for the former, thinking dust to dust right. But if I could choose again, I would choose the later as the soil when it knocked the casket did not sound comfortable. And it covered all the flowers we threw in.
I remembered on that day when we buried daddy, the sound of the earth hitting the casket made me think "Daddy, sorry about the noise!" Every hit made me cringe. I am glad the music helped bring me to another place.
The 2 days we had the wake, it was a full day affair. Olivia, my dearest friend who lost her mum told me that seeing daddy as often as I could that 2 days will help in the grieving process. So, whenever I could I would be my daddy talking to him and asking him to help me. I met friends of my dad who I actually cherish in my heart and I was so glad they were there that we could comfort each other. Even some friends who I know hate to travel made it all the way to bid my daddy farewell. I was so touched by their effort. And I hope one day I would be able to return their favor.
On Saturday we buried daddy. I didn't want the casket to be closed. I actually didn't feel ready not to see daddy anymore. But I had to let go. Incidents had happened which made my son very aware of my emotions and I had to teach him to let go. I walked away because I could not handle seeing them close the casket. I waited at the door and leaned on my eldest uncle's shoulders and watched them load the casket in the van. At that moment, I felt glad that I had a close enough relationship with most of my uncles and aunties. The preparation of the van was done in a seamless manner - to putting the picture of my dad at the front of the van to rearranging all the flowers in the van. We were told to walk behind the van for the short distance to the front gate. Mummy, sis and I with my 2 kids walked in front with so many friends and relatives following. We then proceeded to Semenyih.
When the burial process was complete, I really wanted to stay a while longer. Like what we see in the movies right. To sit quietly for a while and say good bye. But we were rushed off for lunch and it would have been for the best since it was close to 1 pm and lengthy goodbyes never did anyone any good. Seeing the whole process through, there was closure. And talking to aunties after that, mending some fences, understanding their grief, it all helped.
I am thankful that I have my son. He was very close to his grandfather and in a way both of us can grief in a way hubby and my daughter do not. I am trying to fill up the gaps my dad left in my son's life and he fills up mine. So long daddy, see you one day in heaven.