Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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Doomy Gloomy Sunday..And Heroes Are Made

Gloomy Sunday sky makes it dreary,

Sky cannot decide to rain or shine is weary.

Reading France’s heroic cop makes me teary,

Oh the wretched ISIS militants are not sorry!

I am sad to wake up to such dreadful news.

The world can be a better place without bloodshed or tears if we co-exist isn’t it?

I once worked for the law firm of Mrs Lee Kuan Yew and her advice still rings true.

We need not be bedfellows but let’s co-exist in harmony.

This is why our lil red dot is fiercely protective of racial harmony and against radicalism.

Our Malay ministers and Muslim Religious Council will always speak up for living our lives as one united Singapore and not as any racial group.

We do not lose our unique identity as a group within this united group as our food galvanises us too.

Last evening I had a plate of delectable nasi padang of fried sprouts, dried fish and brinjal. The Malay chap selling it addressed me,” what would you like darling” – sweet, polite and definitely cheeky. But we are like that in lil red dot where we are all ‘darlings’, ‘aunties’ or ‘uncles’

I also read of 2 local paramedics at our local hospital saving the life of a captured drug addict trying to escape by grabbing the revolver of his arresting oifficer. They were “kaypoh” or busybodies after finishing a case there but saw what happened and interceded.

Armed with a blanket and a pillow they were shot at but the bullets hit the officer that was scrambling with the assailant.

The 2 paramedics finally succeeded in overpowering the “high” drug addict by pinning him down.

They saved the life of the police officer and patients at the hospital during peak hours. That deranged drug addict could have shot and killed more people.

I am happy the 2 paramedics are alive and deeply saddened by the loss of life of the French cop. He was a hero and the world now knows of him.

My deepest condolences to the French people and warmest congratulations to the 2 Singaporeans for saving lives, using their own lives as shields.

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Saturday Evening Thoughts

I promised that I will post my thoughts after my meeting with my funeral director.

*For those popping by for a first time read, nope, I am not dying immediately but eventually!😆

Like any humanoid, I will keel over in time. Maybe not tomorrow but eventually.

Mr Funeral Director (Mr FD) is 34 years old. He is single, very polite and most importantly with heart.

He has provided funeral services for 3,000 families to date and he shared that he has seen how funerals can be full of bickerings and ugliness.

I learnt that the last statistics done in 2013 showed that year having 14,000 deaths. This translates to 39 deaths a day.

With an aging population in Singapore, the death rate is expected to rise.

Based on my internet search in the statistics website, they state that in 2017, on average 3.5 deaths per 1,000 was recorded and we have about 3.6 million residents. 1.6 million are non residents.

Mr FD asked what were my wishes and was startled that I did not want a wake. He explained at length on the need to give the living closure.

After explaining my reasoning, he said that he respected my wishes.

My decision was from the freezer to the oven concept. He suggested from freezer to their Care Center to be cleaned, dressed and made up before encoffining.

I told him that if anyone wished to see me then, they could do so there.

Mr FD suggested a better viewing place is at the funeral parlour and I need not be there more than 4 hours pending barbeque slot available.

It all depends on “what time” I croak.

If in the wee hours of the morning, I may still be able to be barbequed by late afternoon. But if I croak in the afternoon then a one day layover was required.

Mr FD preferred that I had a memorial service as he felt that people will miss me. LOL!

I said I would think about it but this is decoupled from the handling of my cadaver.

My sentiment, as shared with him was that why should I trouble people to come to a wake or a funeral!

If no one knows, no one needs to be obligated to attend. It is troublesome to me and I hate to inconvenience others.

If they remember me when alive and the actions I do and appreciated me for it..this is good enough for me.

I showed him my favorite inanimate furball Garfield and for the fella to be with me.

He tried to cajole me to hold a memorial with all my 475 Garfields displayed. It sounded rather pretty and nice. If this should happen, for sure it will attract media attention as I have willed for all 474 Garfields to be given to needy children or homes.

The 475th one is my favorite and goes with me.

He explained the medical program at National University Singapore and National University Hospital whereby if I decide to donate my cadaver for aspiring doctors or practising surgeons, the usage is only for 2 years.

Afterwhich the faculty will pay for the funeral as they return my body to family. Since I have no family, Mr FD will take over if I so wish.

I said I need to think over and decide on this option as well.

Meanwhile the clearest method of exit was from the freezer to the oven with a pit stop to clean up.

Then the last process was to inter my remains at the niche. On this he will need to check on the rules for marble slab and the designated contractor of the church (*my lovely mum has thought of everything and pre bought hers as well as my final resting apartment!)

I am relieved to know this is done and I will await final details for payment.

Morbid?

No.

Prepared?

Yes.

Relieved?

Very much so as I hate being a burden to anyone.

Before ending the meeting, Mr FD asked me if there was anything that I could not let go?

I told him without hesitation, “No”

My philosophy in life is do not harm anyone and do my best to help where I can.

I want people to celebrate my life and not mourn my death.

This is my self promise if and when the time comes to bid my parents farewell..I want to celebrate their lives and not weep.

Sure..I would be inhuman not to cry but I will want to remember and cherish the times shared with a smile and with laughter.

Death is inevitable.

Death is not dictated by self.

Death is at the behest of the greater beings above.

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Stark Realities Of Life – Sobering Thoughts

The realities of life were impressed upon me yesterday when I received a text message that my 3rd Aunt who was struggling with end stage liver cancer had passed away at around late morning.

 In a way, I was happy and relieved that her suffering has ended as she was bearing the brunt of pain. She is in eternal bliss where she can no longer feel pain. She has joined the great Prof Stephen Hawking in the heavenly realm, one day after he passed and barely 6 months since her late husband died. I am sure they will become good friends. She was 88 years old.

 My aunt and uncle were a close couple and her children told her upon her diagnosis of liver cancer some 6 months back that her husband had wanted her to be with him as he was worried she was not taken care.

Yes, my uncle was fiercely protective of his wife, my aunt, as she was the shy and meek type. My mum as her sister, had often stood up for her when she was being bullied.

Her husband died 6 months ago and shortly after, she was diagnosed with end stage liver cancer with a death sentence pronounced of 6 to 8 months left to live. She managed to crossed beyond 6 months, but not more. *I hate these “death sentences by doctors and sometimes feel it is a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts if one is not a fighter!

I have not been over to mum just yet on hearing the news and I am sure she is upset. But knowing mum to be the practical person she is, she will tell me, life is about living and dying. This is true. Afterall the sisters had said their teary goodbyes some days before Chinese Lunar New Year on 10 February 2018.

I guess, this is a somber reminder to me to do my best whilst alive and though it was necessary to worry about what morrow brings, it is foolhardy to be overly worried.

I just need enough to subsist on and move on. I need no glorifications of things, but to live simply and eat simply. Thankfully, I do not yearn for the finest cuisine as I am allergic to a lot of foods. I stick with my simple fish, pork and veggies.

Last night, I took a nice slab of bream fillet and steamed it with cut red chillis, salted soya bean and sliced ginger. It cost me $6.26 cents for the fish and I had half left over and I ate that with collard greens (Chye Sim), blanched and mixed with Vegetarian Oyster Mushroom sauce.

I have to deal with mortality – my parents and mine in due course. What or how I will feel then is indescribable. As for self, I will sort my out with a local undertaker, enabling the help of Mr Ability To Earn when my time comes.


Someone once told me that the most important person in my life is not a husband, a lover or a special anyone – it is actually the one person who will use his thumb for finger to flip the switch to the furnace to cremate me. If no one does that, then, I am doomed to a life of maggoty degradation. Awwwffful!

I am a mere mortal, dependant on others though I fight desperately to be independent! Good bye 3rd Aunt….your children will do a week of “Ching Ching Chong Chong” of Chinese traditional funeral rites before they decide to cremate or bury you. You have good and filial children who took good care of you. Go in the peace of the deities and continue to bless them from above.

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Just Realised…Stephen Hawking Died On 14 March 18 Is….

Truly a legend to pass on such Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday… and I hope God will give him an elevator instead of stairs to heaven..

Rest in peace Prof Hawkings!💕

You left in style as who can forget your annual memorials hereon.

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