Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Remembering Grandma

Grandma owned a sizeable coffee shop somewhere along Serangoon Road. I do not remember much of Grandma except that she was visually impaired as she aged and that she loved my mum immensely.

The love between my mum and Grandma was mutual and though Grandma was unable to see, she looked forward to our weekend visits.

Grandma worked hard, was business savvy and passed on these values to my mum and my mum passed it down to me.

Grandma passed when I was 8 years old I think. I vaguely remember the grand funeral that lasted 7 days complete with opera, nightly dining for well wishers and the ritual I had to go through as a grand daughter.

What I will never forget is the giant wooden dark wood casket that held her. It was a looming sight for me as I slink past it to the toilets each time throughout the wake. I did not understand death then. The last I remember of Grandma was when I was given a clump of soil to throw into the burial pit.

Soon it will be the start of the 7th month and as the gates of Hades are opened, I am glad that Grandma can have a good break to visit loved ones and continue to bless us.

In remembrance of both my maternal and paternal grandparents this Hungry Ghost Festival.

Advertisements
3 Comments »

How Will I Die Or Leave The Earthly Realm?

I have always asked self how will I die?

If I had a choice, I would like to die a painless death.

A death that is swift, not sliced and diced like those on autopsy tables but a quick death!

I have been through near death experiences, spending 3 months in Bates Motel with tubes running out of my veins and it was not fun. It was painful and horrid.

What will my legacy be?

Nothing really I feel.

I thought I had or am helping people. I do this and did this with altruistic means but I learnt that people tend to take me for a sucker and made use of me and discarded me like yesterday’s newspapers!

I remember helping a part timer at my first job who had sped on the autobahn in Italy and could not control his car, killing is passenger and 2 other lives in the other car.

I went all out to get him repatriated and safely home to Singapore. In return he bad mouthed me for things I never did to his contacts. He never thanked me for saving him from criminal charges as Italian courts rule a person guilty till proven innocent and he bore no guilt for killing 3 people.

The worst part was before he left for his work stint in Europe, I warned him against speeding as speed thrills but kills and that he was a young driver without the experience.

My utopian wish is for me to be able to leave behind a large legacy to help others.

We are all sufferers of one form of illness or other.

MR EX laughed at me when I said I had an autoimmune disease and said it was nothing, unlike cancer! To him cancer is a real disease and Sjogrens, Lupus or any other disease that is not cancer is not a disease as it does not kill.

Illiterate and ill informed is MR EX when he chooses to be.

I had wanted to bequeath my cadaver for surgical learning. But these days with augmented reality and artificial intelligence, cadavers are dirty and messy. So, I am reduced to a pile of waste that must be incinerated.

My final resting place is in a niche in a columbarium.

These days one can scatter ashes in a landfill or out to sea or onto rose bushes!

I cannot see self in a landfill, suffocated!

I cannot see self everyday riding the waves as I suffer from vertigo!

I cannot see self amongst rose bushes, pricked to bits on a daily basis!

So, how will I die?

Not my choice or choosing. I will need to find someone who is even willing to push the button to incinerate me else I become a rotting pile of waste!

2 Comments »

Tribute To Goldlin Gretchen

Goldlin Gretchen or my family members and I would affectionately call “Gretchen” was a magnificent Doberman Pinscher.

She had a satin black coat and displayed great intelligence, compassion, bravery and love for her family. It is a pity that in those days there were no cell phones with cameras and I did not own a camera and so, we have no photo of Gretchen.

I remembered the day she was brought home to our family.

Just a month old but tall lanky with weak legs. She wobbled and trembled as she walked. Mum immediately bought her Vitamin B Complex to boost Gretchen’s muscles.

Gretchen grew up strong and became the love of my mum and I.

I remembered whenever my mum potted in the garden, weeding carpet grass, Gretchen would lie beside her, accompanying mum till she finished.

I remembered one evening after returning from clubbing, a cobra slithered into our garden and came at me after I drove into the car porch. Gretchen lunged at the cobra and barked furiously to protect me. I was more afraid of the Cobra hurting Gretchen. Gretchen won this match as Cobra slithered away cowardly!

Gretchen loved her Saturday baths. She would stand very still as I soap her, brushed her teeth, cleaned her ears and wiped her face. Once I was done, she would run off and wriggle on the fresh lawn as if to say, aha I like the way I am now. I can picture her smiling face, tongue lolling out of her jaw, legs in the air.

I left for school in Oregon and then after to work as an expat in HK. I missed Gretchen and I was told, she missed me terribly too. She would sit at the gate and wait for me to return.

Gretchen lived to a ripe old age of 13 human years or 91 dog years. She died of heart worm infection that left her kidneys failing.

Hospitalization did not bode well with her and she finally passed peacefully at home after waiting for my arrival, hearing me speak with her and patting her.

I wished I sat through that evening with her but I had stepped off the plane with bronchitis and was too ill to sit with her too. She passed without me by her side.

Loyalty, bravery and a heart filled with warmth and love was what Gretchen always showered us. My mum and I would often speak of Gretchen and rate her as the top dog in our lives.

Gretchen was not a pet. She was a valued family member!

[1980 to 1993 Rest In Peace Gretchen!]

4 Comments »

A Tribute To Fairy Lim

Chicken lost her father whom she calls Fairy Lim (after death) to lung cancer last year. My heart sobbed with her as I knew she loved Fairy Lim a lot.

Fairy Lim was a joker in his family and he worked hard to achieve the lifestyle for his brood. I felt helpless as I could see how fast Fairy Lim succumbed to Lung Cancer.

In months, from hospital to hospice and soon after Fairy Lim became legendary after reporting to Heaven.

Fairy Lim did not smoke and yet he contracted Lung Cancer. Not long after, another dear friend of mine, The Nun, told me that her mother was also diagnosed with Lung Cancer (non smoker). Nun’s mother also passed shortly after suffering for a while.

Cancer is horrid as it yields to no human. Can Cancer be stopped in its tracks? I suppose so, depending on age and extent of the war Cancer cells have raged. It can also rear its ugly head whenever it chooses too.

Though in another realm, Fairy Lim continued to bless and appeared in Chicken’s night images, showering her with money, love or funny imagery.

What I admire about her, is her ability to overcome and stand firm. Chicken is stoic and I sometimes see how firmly she can discern on money grabbers and being realistic without wavering in her ideals. I wonder if I will have her strength and character in the event of any calamity.

Part of living is dying and part of dying is living. Any religion teaches us good but sometimes religion is silent and open to interpretation. I used to joke with the people I know that the faith I was brought up in is in dire need of re-branding as it is losing out to the more funky and hip methods of worshipping. What is real? What is not? I do not know. Is there a heaven and is there a hell? Can a person be given absolute forgiveness and enter eternal bliss? Or is it the need for the living to find solace? No departed soul has returned to advise me and I believe, it could be the case of the living trying to make sense of the meaning of “departure” from this world.

What I do know is to practise religion (regardless of which religion) with conscience and with sincerity. If religion is used to purport a monetary goal then it becomes cloudy.

I am no expert in religion and am in Spiritual Limbo after losing antenna connection to the faith I was born with. Till I achieve an understanding, will I make a mindful choice.

This is my tribute to Fairy Lim – in remembering his life and what he had done for Chicken as her father!

Leave a comment »

Bird’s Grandma Has Kicked The Bucket

Whilst I am sad that Bird’s grandma has passed away last Thursday at a ripe old age of 90, I am also relieved that this grand old dame is no longer suffering physical pain.

As with Chinese Taoist Teochew funerals, Bird and Chicken started chatting about the funeral rites with me. I was unable to attend the wake to pay my respects as I am “pantang” – this means that I am sensitive to death events such as wakes, or visiting the sick or celebrating birthdays as it represents “white” and “red” events.

In a believe it or not saga, I have found out that if I attend any of these events, I get very ill and have to be hospitalised and so I insulate self by avoiding these events.

I offer condolences in my heart to Bird and my good friends understand as they have seen it happen to me.

Back to the dramas of the grand and lavish 5 day funeral wake,

Bird texted me to say that the network of the living has extended the tentage for visitors to pay their last respects, spanning 2 football fields.

Sit down dinner is catered for the visitors nightly.

Chanting of sutras for the late Ah Ma starts from morning daily and they even have stilt walkers, band playing, besides the all day feasting.

One of the traditions of helping the decedent cross over to the heavenly realm is the crossing of a makeshift bridge at the site of where the cortege lies.

Women relatives of the decedent must be “clean” without menstruation to be allowed onto the bridge. Otherwise, these women relatives must walk under the bridge.

We opined that this must be something to do with uncleanliness to prevent the decedent to cross over.

As each male or female relative crosses this symbolic bridge some 30 times per night, they would have to throw either coins, flowers or hell notes or incense papers.

The 3 of us (as you can tell by now, we are not great at customary funeral rites and will try to make sense of things) hazarded the reasons for the following items thrown:-

Coins – for the spirits in need of cash

Flowers – for the female ghosts who may want the male decedent and not let go

Incense papers – symbolic of money to bribe the officers of nederworld or triads

Hell notes – money to pay the hungry ghosts or bribes

Teochew Kueh – pink colored rice cakes made of glutinous rice to feed the hungry

Traditions at funerals are best followed to avoid arguments or quarrels and Bird is so tired as she takes morning shift.

May Bird’s Ah Ma rest in peace as she has lived a rich and wonderful life.

1 Comment »

Reflections Of Mine In Singapore

I was delighted to read an article in the papers this morning that a Malay Chef is also indulging in Lion Dancing.

Why am I so happy?

If you have read about the Muslim clashes, the bombings in Sri Lanka (Catholic churches), you will be frightened as religion, it seems, is not for yours to take in those countries.

Let me share with you our lil red dot’s multi cultural and multi racial make up in citizenry.

Genetically, we all descended from migrant forefathers from India, China, Straits countries etc.

There is no Singaporean per se ie no purity as we are a young island state and those born of migrant parents became Singaporeans – like my parents!

We grew up in a tiny red dot of Malays, Indians, Chinese and Eurasians.

Our founding father (modern one named Lee Kuan Yew) recognised that we cannot have Muslims against Chinese or Indians etc. We must co-exist and have racial harmony. This is from his seeing the Malays fighting Chinese in Malaysia in the 1960s.

So when we broke away from Malaya in 1965 and set up an independent Singapore, he enforced racial harmony.

There were no enclaves of housing purely for this race or that race but we do have Little India, Geyland Serai (Malays to set up shops and sell uniquely Malay cuisine and cookies or pastries) and Chinatown for identity keeping and tourism.

Housing Board flats were allotted to ensure parity in different races and that no singular race dominated any one block of flats.

As a citizen of Singapore (I am born in Singapore), I studied with Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians.

I was also put in charge of 2 visually challenged students. Maybe this is why I am lured to continue on with social work till this date.

When I entered the work force, I worked alongside Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians. I enjoyed whatever their spouses cooked for us at lunch times as we shared food.

We all spoke one language – the language of being Singaporean as we laughed, joked, cried and quarreled as one Singapore.

There is no racial slurs – not tolerated and we co-exist, having good friends in other nationalities.

I remembered making friends with Malay Muslims of my age at the beach where their parents ran a little mee rebus stall selling this for a living. From them, I learnt how to speak Malay.

Till this date, we are still friends and the daughter, whom I tutored, today runs her late mother’s food stall now located in Changi Village.

So, when I read about the racial riots or fights against Catholics or Muslims or whatever nationalities, I feel sad.

I wish all countries could adopt our lil red dot’s model.

We have an influx of foreign migrants too – from mainland China, India (doctors, surgeons, IT specialists), Norway (my mother’s cardiologist is from Norway), Malaysia, Indonesia and the list goes on.

We are a hodge podge of different but unique cultures and we are proudly who we are and fiercely protective of our nationalistic state of being Singaporean.

I admire the Malay Chef mentioned in today’s newspapers who loves Lion Dancing so much that he embraced the culture of the Chinese to learn and do the Lion Dance. There is no barrier to what we want to learn, so long as we learn it in the right frame of mind, seeing it as a form of sport (Yip Man the pugilist also had lion dancing contests for pugilists), recreation and learning one another’s culture.

I wish for every different nationality to respect each other’s beliefs so that peace, tranquility and ultimately prosperity and progress will result from it.

10 Comments »

An Exhausting & Sad Week

Last week has been an exhausting and sad one.

One of my good friends, whom I go to school with at the University of Oregon, saw the loss of her father.

I met her parents when they visited her whilst she was going through her undergraduate studies like me there.

Her father was a quiet man and had a loud booming laughter each time we joked and ate together for meals.

My friend lived 2 units away from where I lived and we shared a common courtyard with 8 others. It was in this same courtyard that we hosted our host parents for summer lunch as each of us brought a home cooked meal from Singapore.

Losing a loved one is tough and in the latter years of “Uncle Anthony’s life, he was pretty much restricted to the bed and cared for by his 2 daughters, one of whom is my friend.

I admire the stoic and calm behavior of my friend as she put up with all the difficulties and constraints of caring for her elderly father and a mother who has dementia.

I can never be that as I find self flaring at my mum who is difficult and tests my patience as she regresses into an ultra sensitive person who gets angry and throws a tantrum whenever something is not done her way.

She refuses to listen to reason and keeps bemoaning her inability to hear instead of moving on in life.

Life has its tribulations and one must move on. Easier said than done.

Hate is easy to harbor and I am guilty of it as I too, cannot forgive my father for the favoritism he plays to my eldest sister and youngest brother in my growing up years. But I have to move beyond this and provide as much support to care for him now since he is loopy in the brain department and that his 2 favorites does not bother much, at most annual affairs.

But for mum it is just eating away at her and she loves to be venerated in a Goddess like stature and think she is always right. For her sake, I hope she finds it in her heart to move on and enjoy the rest of her life happily.

Piglet shared with me the wisest of words…”I am so blessed as my parents left me early so that I will not suffer” Piglet has had a fair bit of setbacks in life and I am glad she is doing well now. I worry about her as she is a lovely person, kind hearted and yes, if she had to care for 2 elderlies, given her own current state of health, then it would be really challenging.

My deepest condolences to my friend and her family for the loss of her father. May Uncle Anthony live in the love of God and rest in peace. He has lived a good life, a full life and with the love of his two daughters.

I wish my friend much love and time to grieve and move on in life.

 

8 Comments »

4 Dogs Of Life

I have had 4 dogs my entire life thus far.

Here is my story of the canine kind.


When I was a toddler, I had an Alsatian (*German Shepherd) or I used to call it a police dog.

It was a stray i.e. no one wanted it and my dad adopted it, with my mum’s blessing of course. It was a mature dog, couple of years old and appeared at home one day to me.
It was not a rompy dog, but a serious dog. About a year passed when one day, it started chasing its own tail for no reason. We all thought there was something stuck to its tail but nope, there was nothing there.
Yet for no rhyme or reason, the dog would chase its tail ever so often such that we got worried if the dog was sick or mentally ill.


The vet checked him out and advised us to put him to sleep as it seems he had a neurological disorder caused by eating lamb…perhaps an infection from the lamb that was fed to him by previous owner.

We never fed him lamb and figured out that his previous owner may have fed him lamb before.
Sadly, Alsatian went to woofy heaven.
As I began primary school and turned 8 years old, my dad found a litter of stray pups (mongrels) abandoned at a fishing pond. This is a commercial pond that charges fishing per hour per rod.

My dad is an avid fishing fan and would visit this pond weekly on Saturdays to catch Song fish, Carp orBlack Tilapias – all freshwater type fishes.


The owner of the fishing pond started finding owners for this litter and my dad selected one. By now, I am fairly intelligent to know how to remember this woofy’s name. LOL!
Dad named him “Husky” as it had that husky look.
Husky was a fierce dog and protected us and our belongings with utmost security by flashing his chomps.
He had to be chained up in the day to prevent him from biting visitors, neighbors or friends who liked to pop by to visit. Only at night was he allowed to roam the perimeter of the house where he is the guard on patrol.
As Husky turned 5 years old, my sister’s science teacher’s beagle accidentally got pregnant by a mongrel. My sister took home one from the litter and he was adorable, having the same patchwork of the beagle’s fur design but looking like a mongrel.
She named him King. As King is a young pup, he loved to get on Husky’s nerves. Both he and husky would get into bloody fights (*literally blood and gore) and we have had to hose them to break it up. I guess Husky thought little of King.


As King grew up, his size remained the size of a beagle.

King became easily frightened by thunder and would cower/whimper for attention or attempt to squeeze through the iron grille gates that separate him from our house.
By now, Husky was about 9 years old and overnight, he refused to get up or walk about. I tried getting him to walk but he refused. Off to the vet he went and we were told he suffered a stroke and that we would need to put him down.
We lost Husky.


By now King was King of the house and getting a lot of attention till one day, my sister said that she wanted a Dobermann. She did not have the money to buy this pedigree fella that was registered with the Kennel Club and dad gave her a couple of hundred dollars ($375) to buy this pup.
This time, we had our first female dog and the papers said her assigned name was Goldlin Gretchen. We fondly called her Gretchen.

She was a darling as her legs were very long and weak.

Mum immediately fed her vitamins and soon she grew up to be a beautiful dobermann. It’s tail was clipped at birth and when we bought her, it was a mere stump. We refused to have her ears cropped so that it stood up.
This was a mistake on our part as later on we realized that with all that running and flapping of the ear flaps, it bled very often. We thought we were cruel to crop her ears! She wore a lamp shade most times to allow ears to heal.
Gretchen was a darling to both my mum and I as she would accompany mum when she was gardening in her huge garden.
Gretchen was a wonderful guard dog and a loving family member. She passed away at 11 years old or 77 human years.
We mourned her loss so badly that mum declared no more dogs as losing this one was so painful. We unanimously agreed! Compared to Alsatian, Husky or King, Gretchen tops the list and till today, leaves the most memorable impression in both my mum’s and my heart.

She is in doggy heaven with the others now.

4 Comments »

Infect – One Word Prompt

If anyone is down with the flu or any kind of coughs or colds, one must mask up to prevent others from getting infected.

To avoid getting others infected, please practise good hygiene.

Wash hands thoroughly with soap, antibacterial wipes or with rubbing alcohol to disinfect self on reaching home, after toilet use, shaking hands. (*I have become slightly obsessed with antibacterial wipes like Adrian Monk of popular TV series Monk…haha but I am not OCD!)

In 2003, I was an employee in the Institute of Mental Health hospital in Singapore.

It was in that year that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was brought into Singapore by a young woman who travelled abroad and brought it back to Singapore.

SARS was unknown to all and the etiology of the disease was off the books.

All we knew was that people were dying from it in Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Shortly after, a suspected SARS infection broke out amongst the inmates of a ward in the hospital where I worked. Patients in that ward came down with flu like systems.

As SARS was deadly, the government put us on a lock down and the entire hospital was quarantined to prevent transmission. We were called a “cluster”

The military took over and told us that that we will be shot to death if we broke away from lock down to contain this cluster “outbreak”.

We were made to sign and agree on this so that the army will not be held accountable for our own death if we decided to escape.

We were ferried daily by army trucks like prisoners from hotel to hotel and chased out like lepers when hotelier found out we could potentially have SARS.

That week was a traumatic one as we were all tested and awaited results.

We did not know if we would ever see our family again.

I put my heart and soul into work and consoling those who broke down emotionally. I did not know how to be afraid.

I laughed and joked with my colleagues to keep spirits up.

Laughter is infectious and after that harrowing week, we learnt it was an Influenza B infection.

I lived.

My colleagues lived.

We were reunited with family and were relieved.

But we, in the National Healthcare Group lost doctors, nurses and health workers in the isolated SARS assigned Tan Tock Seng Hospital as the communicable diseases center.

To our unsung heroes who battled a war called SARS – I salute you all who put self in the frontline of a pandemic, exposing self to infection, despite mask or gloves as you treated and cared for those infected.

This post is written in memory of the fallen health care workers 💜💛💚💜💛💚 and the loss felt by their families and children they left behind.

7 Comments »

Good Bye Inuka Polar Bear

Our Singapore born polar bear, Inuka, was put down on Wednesday.

He was 70 years old in human years and lived way beyond 25 years old. He was 27 years old.

It was touching to see the zoo keepers honoring Inuka today. They were very sad as they took care of Inuka since birth.

Many Singaporean families and their children went to Inkua’s memorial.

Our lil red dotters are warm hearted and we love our fur friends.

Good bye Inuka. You are pain free now and floating in the clouds

6 Comments »