A Death in My Family

Last night my Dad called me to say his elder brother had just passed away in the hospital. Uncle Zaki had been seriously ill with terminal cancer for some months and his passing did not come as a great shock.

However my Dad was devastated as he was extremely close to Uncle Zaki. They had been the two siblings (of 9) who had been placed in a hostel in the 50’s so they could have a ‘big town’ education rather than be uprooted time and time again as my grandfather, a KTM Stationmaster, had to be posted to different railway stations rather regularly.

My Dad was only 10 years old when he and Uncle Zaki who was 11, made the big shift to big, bad KL.

Uncle Zaki was 81 when he passed on. Dad who is now 79 is a picture of health. He is slim and watches his diet, he walks on his treadmill for more than half an hour every other day at a speed even I feel tough to keep up, 6.7!! He monitors his heart rate to be 140 beats per minute for at least 15 minutes. He then does Qi Kong for another half an hour and yoga (including a shoulder stand) for another half an hour. Yes … Dad’s fit!! and such an inspiration.

What got me was when Dad called to tell me of Uncle Zaki’s passing he insisted he didn’t want me to come along to the hospital. He insisted he’d be fine and I was to go about my evening as usual. I automatically said OK.

This morning however was the funeral. My Dad again said he would go alone. I realised he actually didn’t want to go alone despite his protestations. He just didn’t want to ‘be a bother’.

I insisted on going with him. I called the clinic and explained the situation and asked my extremely efficient (and angelic) Clinic Managers to start calling all my patients to reschedule the 16 appointments booked …. it’s a Saturday!!….. with my apologies.

As we drove to the graveyard Dad reminisced about ‘the good old days’ with Uncle Zaki. We hurried on to Bukit Kiara Cemetery as the funeral had been brought forward to early morning. There we met with the many, many uncles and aunts (they’re so old!) and cousins (they’re old too … I hardly recognised many) and nephews and nieces. It was a sad but very dignified funeral.

Later back home, Dad said he was glad I insisted on coming. He said he knew (being a dentist himself) that the Saturday schedule was a homungous one to reschedule and he didn’t want to put me out!

I was so present to how my Dad, like so many parents, find it difficult to ‘intrude’ in their children’s lives. They keep saying things like ‘No, I’ll be fine’ or ‘Don’t worry about me’ but in actual fact they do want us to be there.

I told Dad that my immediate reaction is to say ‘OK Dad, you sure about this?’ and not insist … I always do what he says (Ahmm…. except for the one time I insisted on marrying my boyfriend, that is! That’s a standard joke he tells everyone, too)

I told him I wanted him to know that he was more important than work ... that my patients CAN wait, that his wants and needs come first. Dad looked at me and smiled. He said,’ Well then if that’s the case I won’t feel guilty anymore.’

I almost cried … here is my Dad, 79 years of age and he needed to hear from me that he was important. Dad needed me to actually say it, for him to believe, and get it.

I am so thankful I have both my parents still. I am so thankful I can tell them I love them. (I went to see my mum yesterday at my brother’s house and broke the news to her … she is not as healthy as Dad by far and lives with my brother)

I am thankful that I can be with my parents and have them know they are loved and are important.

Thank you God.

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12 years ago

Innalillah wa inna ilaihirojiun..semoga roh beliau ditempatkan dengan orang-orang yang beriman. Amin.

12 years ago

My deepest condolence to you & family. I know it can be though losing someone dear & close to us (yup..trust me i knew the feeling of losing both my parents).
My personal thought is you’re making the right decision by acommpanied your dad to the funeral. May his soul rest in peace.