Monday, January 28, 2008


Just retired, he quit smoking (went cold turkey just like that) and offered to babysit when his eldest grandchild a.k.a. me was born.

He travelled the world to see the sights and never failed to bring back with him a sling bag for me, representing almost every country he visited. Being the tomboy I was (and still am), I didn't care much for these purchases. But distinctly, I remember my top 3 choices when I had no option but to attend family dinners in a dress - the rubbery red-indian-girl-with-feather-in-her-hair tote, the round faux pas fur bag with a golden chain and the rattan bag of a girl's face with green plaits.

During my kindy days, he would wait for my school bus to drop me off after school. To make sure I was safe, as well as to warn and wave his finger at the bus bully who used to love picking on me then.

When I was six and, substantially rounder than my peers, he was the one who told me to remember that it was inner beauty and personality which mattered more, as opposed to physical looks alone.

In my early primary school days, he used to chop up char-siew and other meat into bitesizes and mix them in my rice with gravy all over - so that I could chew with ease and finish my lunch quickly so as not to miss my school bus which would pick me up at 11:30 every afternoon.

He would help me straighten my tie or bow so that I would look smart in school.

He helped me make all the kites I needed to pass up for my art classes - starting from the basic diamond-shaped one in Standard 1 to an impressive wau bulan in Standard 3. Having assisted to make the frame and glue the rice paper, my task was reduced to decorating and painting the said kites.

He occasionally allowed me to tag along with him to run errands in town. We would take the local green or yellow bus (I used to regard this as great adventure when I was a kid) to Komtar and after ticking off the to-do list, he would take me to the Keat Seng coffeeshop on Penang Road for a durian ice-cream ice-kacang, before we hopped on the bus to return home. We would also stop at the hawker stalls opposite Shang Wu to buy laksa or wanton noodles for grandma on our walk from the bus stop back home.

I remember the annual trips to Singapore with him and grandma to visit my uncle. We would take the train which was not equipped with air conditioning back then. Trips would take an entire day with smelly yucky toilets on board. Grandma would boil eggs and buy char siew paus for the journey. But grandpa would inevitably purchase a cup of coffee and maybe some meehoon from the kitchen cabin during the stop in KL and share it with grandma and me. He took me to places of interest such as the science centre, the zoo, the bird park, sentosa island and many more. Again, ice kacang treats were aplenty during my holidays down south. Later on, when my uncle migrated to Aussie, both him and grandma brought bro and I along for a visit as well.

He used to wake up at 5am for his daily walks and marketing - mostly to Rifle Range, but sometimes trodding all the way to Jelutong on foot! He would buy brekkie for grandma and I - making sure that the menu was suitably varied every day - and he was never back later than 8am so that grandma would not be starving and/or overly worried.

He would take his daily afternoon naps and we had to tread around the house with care so as not to disturb him from his rest.

Every 1st and 15th of the Chinese lunar calander, he would faithfully head to the temple in town to offer his prayers. His prayers were so detailed to the extent that if any of his grandchildren were sitting for exams, he would communicate details of the subject, the date and the time of the paper to the gods for their blessings.

He was strict with his diet in his bid to stay healthy, particularly after his heart bypass 14 years ago.

He would make agar-agar, red bean soup, sweet potato soup and other yummy desserts for the family.

He pottered in the garden, tending to his flowers and mango/ papaya trees, despite the numerous protests from grandma to just cut everything down.

He loved to carry out DIY projects, even if it meant doing it behind grandma's back and risk incurring her wrath. This included constructing the prayer alters at home, painting the house and gates for CNY solo even though he was then already in his sixties/ seventies and putting together the doorbell which has been chiming in the house for the last 15 years. Come January every year, he strung up lights and decorated the house with homemade angpow cum new year card decorations and mobiles . And they were truly works of art indeed, which further heightened the atmosphere of the CNY festivities at home.

He religiously kept track of everyone's birth dates every single year.

He was a true gentleman, who wrote beautiful cursive and speaks the Queen's English the colonial way.

He was a staunch supporter of Dr M and regarded the man with much respect.

He took pride in corresponding via letters - I remember writing on behalf of the family to update him on news in Penang whenever he was away on holiday in Aussie. In return, he would always write back and I would then try as best as possible to translate the letter written in English, into Cantonese for my grandma's benefit.

However, he learnt about the internet in his late seventies and thereafter, kept in touch with us all via e-mail regularly. In fact, when he was still well enough, he used to check my blog to see what I have been up to.

He was strict with punctuality and woe-betide those who are late.

He was absolutely devoted to grandma and loved her to bits even after her death.

He was a well respected man, even within the extended family and many look up to him for valued advice.

He was a strong, fit and mentally alert man, till of late.

Gramps passed away at 4:25am @ 22 January 2008. You are a very special person - very much loved, fondly remembered and sorely missed. Rest in peace.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Babe told me, “You have to be strong this weekend. You must be strong.”

I had decided to leave for home, despite it being merely 6 to 7 weeks since I last saw gramps. Nevermind that my tix were already booked for CNY a fortnight away. Chatting to dad and Uncle YW on MSN, I had mulled over whether I could risk delaying seeing gramps for another fortnight away. And when even mum said, “If she wants to come back, just let her.” I realised that I may not have the chance to if I didn’t this weekend.

Babe made me see that very clearly. He chided me, “I cannot believe it is a consideration at all. He is still alive. And according to Uncle YW, alert enough to complain and scold the nurses. What else are you waiting for? ”

Yet I was concerned. About it affecting my work. About it affecting finances.

Babe reassured me not to worry about money, “Money can be earned in the future. You should just go. I will make the necessary arrangements. You just go.”

I was so strung up at work. I looked absolutely nightmarish, with blood shot eyes and hair which seemed to stick out at all the wrong places. Boss thought it was attributable to stress at work as coincidentally, there was an internal deadline to meet. He kept asking me whether things were going ok. And in the end, I just confided and told him I had a family emergency and that I would need the weekend away.

Boss was really good about it. He said it was a 4-day public holiday anyway, so it was mine to spend as I wished. I could take longer if need be. But I politely said nay, I’ll be back by Tuesday. I don’t think Gramps will die this weekend. So matter-of-factly said. I don’t know why I felt the need to verbalise that. Maybe it was more to reassure myself than to inform him.

Anyway, I left via Qatar Airways back to Malaysia. The trip back was really smooth. Flight connections and all were like clockwork. Minimal amount of waiting. I tried sleeping on the plane, but was rather fitful. But I had to sleep. To synch my time with Malaysian time. I couldn’t afford jet lag. Not when I had so little time.

My family picked me up at the Penang Airport and whisked me off to Lam Wah Ee Hospital. Gramps was on the third floor. Room 363 at the Cardiac Unit.

When I saw him, I was trying so hard to fight off tears and swallow sobs. He was hooked up to tubes and was obviously struggling to breathe, even with an oxygen mask. He opened his eyes occasionally. But his eyes were grey and glassy. Unfocused. I wasn’t even sure whether he could recognize me anymore. And that upset me. I had so desperately hoped that he would be well enough to scold me for wasting money flying back at such a “whim”. I really wish he had.

I held his hand whilst he was restless and in much discomfort. He flails his arms, randomly. And kept shaking his head. We could not phantom what he was trying to say.

His eyes were shrunken and his body thin and shriveled. I was not used to the sight of strong Gramps, fit and robust, reduced to such a sight. I felt really really frightened and yet knew that I must remember to be strong. As strong as I could anyhow. Strong for him. Strong for mum.

According to Uncle YW, he may have suffered some minor stroke. We could not tell as Gramps would not keep still enough for a CT scan. And even if so, what little good would it do to know?

His mouth and teeth was a mess of blood. Uncle YW reassured us that it was due to the blood thinners given to him to prevent blood clots. The downside of which would cause his gums to bleed. It was “normal” in such circumstances.

The unresponsiveness was quite a worry. His vitals were ok. Stable. But not particularly great. The question being, was his mental capacity affected? And if so, what should be done, in the event his organs start to fail? Should he be hooked on to artificial life support? Any active resuscitation?

These were questions which are impossible to answer. For my uncles who are both doctors, I think this is particularly tough. Uncle YK was trembling, hands white as he broke the news to us for discussion.

We all knew Gramps didn’t want to live. Three days ago, when he was still alert, he had summoned mum, uncle YW and uncle YK to his bedside at his hospital at the unearthly hour of 2:30am. And asked to be given an injection to be “put to sleep”. “I am ready to go to heaven”.

My poor uncles. Doctors as they are, how could they do that. And to someone so dear!

And despite all this, I am positive that Gramps can be persuaded to live. As evident last April. He recovered miraculously. It would be audacious to ask for so much, but there was hope. If last April taught me anything, it taught me that willpower is very important. With family support, love, care and rallying, I was adamant that we could make him want to live. And keep on fighting.

But on the other hand, this time was quite a bit more serious than April – physically. As powerful as willpower maybe, there would always be physical constraints. It wasn’t always a case of mind over matter. You just cannot run software without functioning hardware.

Gramps was struggling to breathe. And it was obviously very very uncomfortable for him. Would it still be considered love to sustain him and let him continue to suffer or was it just pure selfishness?

Still, surely we cannot give up. Apparently Aunt L had consulted a “medium” who confirmed it was his time to go. And yet, this is something I cannot accept. We cannot give up. If we do, he definitely will. We cannot stop fighting so easily. Not if we loved him like we do. We really shouldn’t. We are supposed to support. Not to reaffirm the naysayers.

Ah Gong. We all love you very much. And as much as you struggle and wave us away, gesturing us to leave you alone to die. We cannot. We simply cannot. Please don’t make this any more difficult than it is.

Sometimes, it is really god’s will. But please, not yet. Your physical signs are improving. I am confident that we will pull through this together. Be patient. You will get well. Don’t worry about things. About having to be put in a home (if medical care is required). About money. About being a burden. It is not. We love you so much and do not think of it in that way at all. We just want you to continue being a part of our lives. To share our joys and achievements. To be the proud patriarch you are.

Please. Give us a chance. To shower you with love so that you can recover and be strong again.

God, please send a guardian angel to watch over Gramps. Guide him back to us. Please.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 2

On further consideration, I thought I'd warn any unwary visitor who stumbles upon this blog and starts reading. If you're male, you're likely to find the following icky. So please, do yourself a favour and turn back to where you came from. Trust me, you'll thank me for this.


Today is DAY 2 of 28. Well, for most people anyway.

I feel tired, bloated and unattractive. Well, I feel unattractive most of the time anyway, but I feel particularly unattractive today. I was bundled in a warm green turtleneck sweater. I used to look smart in such stuff. But today, I looked like a green apple. People without necks like moi should really refrain from attempts to don turtlenecks. Seriously.

Anyways, back to my new year's resolution. Today I learnt about:

The cycle

Day 1 - 4: Bleed, bleed, bloody bleed.
Day 5 - 11: Have sex, sex, sex.
Day 12 to 14: Ovulation (supposedly) occurs. More sex.
Day 15 to 18: Have sex - just in case ovulation is late. And for fun. Ha!
Day 19 to 28: Moan over zits, irritation mounts, mood swings from hyper happy to god damn depressing. Back to Day 1.

That is the summarised agak-agak version. Now, the real (complicated) deal. Systematic. Discipline required. No pain no gain.

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

FAM is a collection of practices that help a woman know which days of the month she is most likely to get pregnant. A woman can learn when ovulation is coming by observing her own body and and charting physical changes. She can then use this information to avoid or encourage pregnancy.

a) Technique 1: Calander Charting
  • Start by keeping a written record of your menstrual cycle for 8-12 consecutive months. (So long!!!! Shucks! How am I going to achieve my resolution this year?)
  • Count the first day of menstruation (the first of bleeding) as "Day 1" of your cycle.
    Pick your longest and shortest cycles.
  • Subtract 18 from the length of your shortest cycle and note this as the first fertile day.
  • Subtract 11 from the length of your longest cycle and this is the last fertile day.

b) Technique 2: Cervical Mucus Monitoring

In a "typical" cycle, after 5 days of menstruation there are 3-4 "dry" days, then wetness begins with sticky, cloudy, whitish, or yellowish secretions. The wetness increases to the wettest day when mucus is quite distinctive: abundant, clear, very slippery and very stretchy (like egg whites). Ovulation occurs sometime in the 2 days before or up to 2 days after the peak day of stretchy fertile mucus. This is summarised in the chart below.

c) Basal body temperature (BBT)
  • Temperature is taken every morning immediately upon waking and before any activity.
  • Immediately before ovulation, the temperature drops briefly.
  • Within 12 hours of ovulation the BBT rises several tenths of a degree and remains up until the next menstrual period.
  • When temperature stays high for 3 days in a row, the fertile period is over and the infertile time begins.
  • Keep a chart of your BBT over a period of 8-12 consecutive months to learn the approximate time in your cycle when you usually ovulate.
d) Cervical Observation
  • During and in the first few days after menstruation, the cervix is fairly low and firm like the tip of your nose.
  • When the wet cervical fluid begins to show, the cervix begins to move up, become more soft, wet, and open.
  • During ovulation, the cervix is at its highest and most open. After ovulation, the cervix returns to the firm, low, and closed position.
Huh?? Got difference meh? Don't really know how this works.

Sounds like a lot of work leh.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 1

In order to keep up with one of my more important new year's resolution for 2008, I am obliged to record this down.


Inevitably, I'll need to find out what happens thereafter. So, a little research and development will be necessary. But, an avid fan of the just-in-time philosophy, it is still early days.

Nevertheless, I wished I had paid more attention in classes mucho mucho years back re the topic. Oh wait, was this even covered in our syllabus? Heck, I can't remember to save my life.

Nevermind. Keep on counting, keep on counting, keep on counting........

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wrong diagnosis

Worried about the lack of news, I nudged bro on msn

munsta: How is gramps!?
bro: Aiya, wrong diagnosis given yesterday lar.
munsta: No blood clot, no tumour? That is great!
bro: No blood clot, no tumour BUT it isn't water they found in his lungs. It is blood.
munsta: !!!!!!!!!! Oh no!
bro: It is caused by bacteria, probably from dust. And that is what is making it difficult for him to breath.
munsta: So can be cured?
bro: Apparently so. Gramps has just been started on a course of antibiotics.

Fingers crossed, Gramps will start getting better soon. Please God. Thank you.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Back in Pg

Was cc-ed on an e-mail from Uncle YW, detailing his complicated logistics for his trip back to Penang at short notice, leaving Brissy as soon as possible. Things must be very serious with Gramps to warrant him doing such. I wish I were nearer home. I want to be there too. So very very much. For Gramps. For mum. She must be finding it very tough as well. I find it devastating to potentially lose two very much loved grandparents in less than 5 years. It must be multiple times harder for her. I wish I were home to accompany her walk through these difficult times.


Aunty asked "God" about Gramps and was apparently informed that his time is up. Also was informed that we shouldn't be requesting "God" to prolong Gramps' life - the max extension given will be 3 years, but in return, the requestor will have to trade 20 years of his/ her life.

I am sorry, but what "God" talks like that - seriously? Isn't God all about hope? I don't believe God sinks to such low levels to bargain this way! Plus it would also mean that I'll probably live a very short life too...considering that everytime I've prayed, I would ask for a longer and healthier life for Gramps and previously, Grandma too.

Things are not looking too good. Apparently, besides being as poorly as he was, a blood clot and a possible tumour has been detected today. Tears streaked down my cheeks quite a few times today, as bro updated me on developments via msn. So glad that I am home alone this weekend and thus, can cry to my heart's content without raising undue alarm.

As much as I declare that we have to accept that Gramps is getting old, I really really do not think I am ready for him to leave us. Not when he hasn't seen bro getting hitched yet. Not when he hasn't even met his great grandchild!

But hold on. Isnt' this very selfish of me?? All I am preoccupied with is that I want Gramps to be around. About what I want. Me.

How about looking at it from Gramps' perspective? I know he is far from comfortable. His kidneys are not working well, and he has water in his lungs. He can't sleep nor can he talk much. From an active healthy patriach, he is now reduced to an invalid stuck for most times in bed, having difficulty sitting up for long spells even. And now with the new blood clot and tumour. Surely, it must be painful.

My heart tugs to know he is suffering so. Sometimes, when I feel a little braver, I wish he would suffer less, even if it means that he may simply have to leave us earlier. But that thought vanishes in 2 seconds as tears stream down my face again. I am such a baby. With all the years chalked up, I am still very very bad at handling deaths and impending deaths of loved ones.

I only hope he holds up till I get home for Chinese New Year to see him. All I have in my hands now is this panaromic photo of hubby, myself and Gramps taken at the Gold Coast back in 1999 - happy smiley faces with our sunglasses on - propped against the tissue box on my bedside.

I love you so much Gramps. I really do.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


An outstanding athelete, consistently clocking sub-10 seconds for the 100 metre dash is chosen to represent the country at the Beijing Olympics >> does it bother you that the said athelete cannot speak English or solve basic calculus problems?

A think-out-of the box consultant who is a genious at turning flailing companies around >> does it bother you that he is a picky eater and lives on an unhealthy diet of burgers and Coke, widely skirting fruits and vegetables?

A magnanimous socialite who donates much of her personal time helping the needy>> does it bother you that she is unable to hold on to personal relationships for periods exceeding 2 months?

So why does it bother us if a proven capable leader has problems or has committed errors in his personal life? Isn't it just human to err?

Before you jump the gun, I agree that cheating is very definitely, morally (but not legally in the conventional sense) wrong - there is no two ways about it. But the point here is, who are the victims? His wife and family - yes. They have all the right to judge and wail and kick up a ruckus (to put it mildly).

But the rakyat?!?? What does the individual owe you that grants you the right to reserve judgement? Particularly so when the individual's failings have little relevance to his job ability.

In simple language, it is totally none of our business!

Closer scrutiny should be upon others out there who have erred in their job and robbed us taxpayers our hard-earned contributions and/ or our country's resources instead.


Yeah, I do admit I am a skedyKAt when it comes to driving in a foreign land. Cruising down on the wrong side of the road. Roundabouts which turn anti-clockwise. Impatient drivers who honk you even when you are stopped at traffic lights which are red. My nightmares come true.

I'm home alone as hubby is off for a one-day business trip. So, having still got to turn up at the office tomorrow, hubby suggested,"You should just drive lar, can park at the multi-storey carpark down the block."

Er, thanks but no thanks. Throw narrow ramps and the fact that the car is rented together - I can hear the scratching of metal in my head as the car is engraved with arty-farty lines for all to see. Furthermore, I still don't have a local driving license yet (though people tell me that my current driving license will suffice, I don't trust them).

Have also heard about the traffic fines here. They range in the region of RM'000. So, do you still blame me for opting to take a taxi? Expensive it may be - i.e. RM30 for a 5 minute drive to the office, so RM60 budgeted for a day of travelling to and fro for work - but what to do? I think I am willing to fork out the astronomical sum to buy time for a little more practice on the road before I dare floor the pedal entirely on my own. And practice I need as hubby has hinted that he is scheduled to go away for longer periods for business in mid-January. Shucks.

Anyway, the taxi has been booked to pick me up at 7:45am. No arrangements have been made for the trip back from the office yet. Sigh. Maybe kiam siap me will just take my time and saunter home, if the weather permits.