At 9.55am yesterday, my A Tai took her final breath. And I was there to witness that.
A Tai lived her life illness-free and she could walk, cook and remember so many people. It was only until she fell 4 years ago that she required some help. A few months ago, due to some unforeseen circumstances in our family, we decided that it was best that she move over to live with us. There was a bit of fear and uncertainty especially because we will not only have A Tai, but also a domestic helper living with us, whom I have always dreaded. But guess what, the past two months living with A Tai was so beautiful. I’m just so blessed that God had this planned. Am I selfish to say that I’m so happy I got to spend her final days together with her? But there are her other relatives who have lived with her for most of their lives, and in the end, she took her last breath with me, whom only spent several weekends with her for the past 21 years.
There are so many beautiful moments created with her. I love how I would say hi to her when woke up, or returned home – if she was still up. And sometimes she will ask if I am Shi Pin (I’m actually Shi Ying idk why she always calls me Shi Pin), then she will ask lots of other questions. Most commonly asked question is where is mummy. Even at 1+am on some nights, her mind is so active. She would even ask us to keep the main doors open and all the lights on. We would then keep telling her that we can’t, it’s not safe! Many people came to visit her during her stay too. And she remembers us all. Often she would ask where this place is. I guess she misses home. We also let her try ice cream. I loved her reaction when she winces. She said “an leng” (too cold) but we still gave her more anyway ❤️ and we brought her for a tour around the house. I put my Elmo at the entrance of my room to welcome her. She stopped at my room on her way to mummy’s and she was just observing Elmo. I brought Elmo close to her and she asked who Elmo was and frankly, was disgusted. 😂💕 I made a stuffed toy for her back in 2013 for her after she just fell. She didn’t like it though 😂 I love you A Tai. And again, once she arrived at mummy’s room, she saw her reflection and this time she went out to reach for it, shocked. She even asked who that was and when we told her that was her, she was so sad and kept saying how old she was. She sat on mummy’s bed in disbelief. We let her watch some TV then she ended up sleeping with mummy that night ☺️ I’m sure mummy must miss that moment so much. We also brought her for a walk. She kept saying “Hello”. Very cute. The walk was a little tough because the floors were very bumpy and she wasn’t too comfortable with that.
I keep thinking about how she always made fagao for us every time we visited. So huge ones. It takes a lot of effort to make them. And I remember the times when we arrived and she would stand up and walk over to us. And when I hugged her frail body, she was always so sad to see us leave. She was really nice to us. She remembered all our birthdays and gave us red packets every year. I’m so glad I didn’t get tempted to leave for a Switzerland trip this CNY. I got to spend a last CNY with A Tai.
So on Tuesday, we brought her to the doctors. They gave lots of meds and said it was ok to give her sleeping pills. Wednesday night was the first time she took those pills. Prolly it was too much for her to handle. On Thursday morning, she had some bread, followed by antibiotics. Some liquids came out of her mouth. She was motionless. She was gasping for air for a bit. I called the ambulance. After a few minutes, she stopped breathing.
I have to say the medics are too slow and inefficient. He didn’t know what he was doing. He asked us to put a Tai on the floor. And he took so long just to get started. Aunty and I were actually shouting at him to hurry up. By that time a Tai already passed away. And I have to add that the ambulance took too long to come. Then another lady from the medics came. She even told us not to put a Tai on the floor. Alright SCDF, get your sh*t together. Can you guys communicate the correct process with one another?
So… I called mummy, aunt and finally JJ who took too long to pick her phone to tell them the news.
Medics got me to give statements. The police took over. I gave my statement too.
[this was when Aunty and I realised Ambrose was still sleeping…….. can’t believe it. Then I woke him up.]
The police was also quite unprofessional?! They actually left before the doctor came to certify her death together with a tai’s IC?! What the… so we called them and asked them to bring the IC back. That took nearly an hour. And the worst part has got to be the doctor. He took close to two hours to come and even kept whining on and on. Let’s not care about him. I already expressed my disgust to him. His behaviour was highly inappropriate.
In the meantime, a few family members came. Some behaved appropriately, some really didn’t. We then took out all her clothes and cut holes in her pockets. Hmm, never knew about this tradition. I proceeded to the police station to arrange for her death certificate. Well, the police was also quite inefficient yet again…. they took a long time to figure out what my relationship to a tai was. They put me as a Great Grandmother at first. Then they realised I’m actually her Great Granddaughter (ok thanks guys for taking 20 mins to realise that I’m not my great grandmother’s Great Grandmother). Then they realised their system didn’t have a Great Granddaughter option but they already listed me as a Great Grandmother?! Aiya basically they put me as “others” eventually. Grand Uncle 1 and I went to Tampines afterwards. Wow, everything was set up nicely at the wake already. They prepared her photo. I’m actually very surprised that they could do such a high res one with a Low res photo. A tai looks beautiful in the photo. So we basically bowed to her, walked round her casket, said our last words to her. Oh my, she was so beautiful. ❤️ she was pretty small though. We put her clothes around her. There was cotton placed around her followed by sandal wood and some circular burning essence thing. Felt so united at that moment. A very cosy and small family we have but it’s ok. Errr also realised a tai was also divorced?! I thought my Great Grandfather was just badass and died… lol so seriously we have 3 generations of divorcees. Good luck Adora.
The funeral procession will take place on Monday. So for these five days we will basically head to Tampines. Sometimes we will camp overnight. Thank you to my friends at the Film Society who are just so caring and understanding 💕 I am given time off to be with A Tai at this final stage with her. But I will also try to do some work if I can when I’m home.
This is the first time my family is experiencing a close family member’s death. Aren’t we just so blessed? Most people I know have already been to multiple funerals and it’s actually a blessing that all of us are not sure what to do at all because we’ve had no close family member leaving us before.
A Tai left us peacefully. It was truly time for her to leave to a better place. I love you A Tai. Hope to see you during my next life 🙂 what is life, really? For me, it took me a few years to realise I was actually “alive” and that people had feelings… 😝 okay, I better wake mummy up. It’s 9.19am and we gotta head off to Tampines soon. God bless A Tai and my family. 😌✨❤️