Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

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.


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.


2 Sisters

2 sisters meet,

1 with end stage liver cancer and ridden with pain, elder of the 2.

The other with old age but armed with a sharp wit.

Crying & hugging,

Both recount their childhood.

Old age sister loves older sister with end stage liver cancer and they swop tales of their hardship.

In 20 minutes, sister with end stage cancer has to leave as her pain will kick in once her morphine wears off.

As Sister with end stage liver cancer is helped up from sofa, both hug and cried uncontrollably.

Sister with end stage cancer had asked her daughter to drive her to see old age sister.

As Sister with end stage liver cancer was wheeled out of door, she said, ” where blood arteries flowed without blockage, there can be true sisterly love!”

I cried.


In Memoriam – Dr Andrew Lee Yee Chun

I am sad that my general surgeon, Dr Lee Yee Chun passed away last Friday at the age of 73.

Dr YC Lee was introduced to me by Dr Oon Chong Teik, (*a reknowned Internal Medicine Specialist) when I needed several surgeries.

Dr YC Lee was interested in liver surgical procedures for liver cancer, gall bladder and stomach or gut.

He diagnosed my appendicitis when a gastro doctor said it was gastritis. That gastro doctor has since been sacked as he could have cost me my life.

Dr Lee’s surgical skills are superb. Each slice and dice he has done for me left me no surgical scars.

Through him, he performed 8 surgical procedures on me. All non eventful.

I am sorry for his family’s loss and the medical fraternity has lost a valued colleague and mentor for new surgeons.

My deepest condolences to his bereaved family.

Dr Lee, you are a kind gentleman with skilful surgical hands with a love for scuba diving.

Go in the peace of Christ. Amen.💐🌸🌹🥀🌷🌻🌼🌺



There have been a lot of changes in our local employment scene as more and more people are displaced from jobs that they once had or enjoyed. It is a crying shame that these days, in lil red dot, employers are not ageism friendly.

It is getting really awkward when people in their forties and above are considered “old”. This means that those in their fifties are deemed “dead” in the employment world. I am sad that with the new economy, the post baby boomers are heavily affected without jobs and so are the Gen Xers.

There is little really for the government to play a part as business owners of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) own the companies and like MNCs, they will “hide” behind the “nondiscriminatory guidelines to advertise but sideline “seniors” who will never stand a chance to be called up for an interview.

Many of the displaced have quietly whispered to me that their HR team have been “instructed” against shortlisting anyone more than 40 years old. Those in their 50s are branded “condemned” Gee!!

Mr EX has been quietly also ranting to me that the job scene and economic situation is not buoyant for his business. He claims that the market is weak and that he is struggling to potentially close deals.

I chanced upon his blog and realized that his favorite mutt has passed after a ripe old age. He calls this mutt his “son” as he has only daughters. I feel sad for him as he does love this fella as I remember when we were together back in the day, he told me that his domestic helper had accidentally left the gate of his house open and that his mutt ran away. He was frantically putting up posters with reward for the return of this mutt.

I too remembered how I accidentally left my inanimate furball Garfield in Turkey and bawled my eyes out, even offering USD300 to the tour guide to go back to the hotel so that I can retrieve him. No such luck as we were already 3 hours away and to turn back would adversely affect the 40 others in the bus.

That was a very sad trip for me as that was the day I lost my “son” too. Inanimate or otherwise, that Garfield was a part of my life. Strange how we get emotionally attached to things and at that point, I learnt the meaning of what it means to have no emotional attachment to things – a favorite Buddhist teaching. It was a poignant lesson to me and a hard way to learn it.

I guess the philosophy of “ I come with nothing and will leave with nothing” is indeed a lesson in its own. I came into this world naked, bawling my eyes out and will be leaving this world with whatever clothes the undertaker or mortician would dress me in. Once I am shoved into the BBQ pit, I am ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Nothing is taken with me, not even my favorite inanimate furball Garfield!


My Oddest Think Thoughts – You Think?

I am, to the best of my own knowledge, an odd ball.

No no…don’t get me wrong, I dress normally and eat normally. I also act normally and behave normally.

But I have the oddest think thoughts and different things I see amuse me with blog post ideas.

I see daily things such as an elderly person picking up used card boxes for recycling and wonder why his children let him do this? Or maybe he is alone. The hard laborious work he puts in as he rips the boxes to flatten it and put onto his push cart.

The regular “karang guni” man (*rag bone man in our local dialect) that plies his route to buy used newspapers to eke a living is already in his 60s. I saw him with plasters everywhere on his arm. I asked what happened and he told me he had a bottle of beer at home and fell onto the floor. Thankfully he was not worst off, with a concussion as I suspect he lived alone.

Classmate (CM) shared with me that he went to enroll for downgrading courses as a security officer. I told him it is not “downgrading” courses but Skills Future development – you see, I tend to be politically correct!

Everyone in lil red dot is worried about their old age. I am too.

I am single and will die single and as CM shared, please make sure I do not stink up the neighborhood!

S Man chimed in when I was in a conversation with him over text messaging. He shared that he often looks in on his professor in Australia where he studied as he was alone too. He also asked me to ensure that I have a circle of good friends who will look in on me when I grow old. S Man is married with 2 children. He is struggling despite having 1 PhD and 2 master degrees.

Bird Man said the same to me too.

I shot back at both of them…of course flashing my pearly whites…” so are you considered a good friend of mine?”

Both said “yes”

My odd thoughts are that these are words that are valid now, in this moment in time. Things change, people change and time changes people.

I will not hold anyone to look in on me when I grow old.

Instead, I must grow old graciously and choose how I die unless I die of a massive heart attack or stroke! Not unlikely as people in lil red dot are dying of heart ailments, strokes, cancers ( top 4 being lung, breast, prostate and liver).

I just wish to die a quick death, not a lingering one as this is the worst kind of death really!

I just heard from Bird that her father is dying in hospital as he has terminal lung cancer. 

I feel for Bird and told her to be strong and pray hard her father passes soon so that his suffering ends.

Sigh! Life is tough!

We are feeling it as we age….


How To Die Properly…..

For the last 6 years, I was an active advocate in a voluntary capacity for seniors’ wellbeing. 

I enjoyed this as it gave me an opportunity to understand what it was like to be old and faced with a mountain of issues, including expressing the “right way to die”

LOL! Yes, I can hear people laughing when I pen this but truth is, many of the seniors here die without expressing their wishes or desire. Their concerns like burial rites, post death offerings or wishes die with them in silence.

I remember my co-chair member, Mr How To Die, always having long discussions with me on “how to die” – we are both not that old but we recognize that death the Grim Reaper is indiscriminate and collects anyone of any age as he has a quota to fill.

People don’t talk about death as it is macabre and an ill omen….a taboo!

So when I had an unfortunate health incident that put me at death’s door or being a potential quadriplegic, Mr How To Die rushed to my hospital bedside. I was thankful for his company.

We joked and laughed about “How to die” and I assured him that the several instruments to help me were done.

Firstly, the Advance Medical Directive – this disallowed unnecessary medical attempts to resuscitate me or keep me on unnecessary life prolonging measures.

We laughed as I said to him – “let me die in peace, with dignity and save unnecessary costs!” – yes, the joke in lil red dot is, one must die quickly and not a lingering death as medical costs are exorbitant!

Secondly, Lasting Power Of Attorney – this was necessary if in the event, I became the living dead. This is the worst stage of anyone’s life as I may remain in a permanently vegetative state either comatose or awake without ability to scratch or move.

Again, we laughed as I said to him – “Done….at least I will have clean diapers as I hate wading in own poo!”

Third and final instrument was the Will. The ultimate hurrah!

“Done”, I said to him. “Garfield is well taken care of and this favorite bugger of mine will be interred, intact with me in my 2 room niche! Not cremated!” We laughed as I hugged Garfield tightly.

Good news is that I made it, all senses and mobility intact.

Bad news is that Mr How To Die suffered a huge loss when his 12 year old son keeled over and died in a bus on the way to school. This happened shortly after my health scare. It has been 3 years ago since his son passed.

I could not make sense of it and I knew it hit Mr How To Die very hard. His only son and what makes it worst, is that there was no closure for him. He never had a chance to say goodbye to his son that day as he never expected his son to be shanghaied by Grim Reaper from him.

Although Mr How To Die hardly shed a tear in front of me and keeps a stoic face whilst we continue to serve as volunteers, I know he is wrecked inside.

This year, we both took on a new 6 year term of office. Sadly, I will not be able to serve with him in the same committee as we did such a good job such that the Dukes of Yore dissolved the need for the committee. Happy problem!

I now serve to help people find employability as lil red dot is seeing a huge rate of unemployment for 45ers to 62 years old.

The lessons I have learnt in doing voluntary work is that, we can never be too prepared.

Age discrimination is practiced as many companies and government institutions prefer not to hire “older” or mature workers.

The polite terms they use to decline potential candidates are “ we allow the person to grow into the role” – point blank it means, “we hired the other candidate as it allowed the person to grow in the role. It does not allow the person to die in the role”

So, it is a long road ahead of me to help this sector and today, I started with media and writing to the Dukes of Yores to commence my case against age discrimination.

Wish me luck!


Daily Buzz In Lil Dot – What Lil Dot Citizens Are Talking About

Lil Red Dot has been abuzzed with a lot of local issues lately. Some sad, some environmental.

First there was a sad incident of a 32 year old man who substituted for another person to do a bout of muay thai for celebrity causes. Sadly, the man collapsed and died of a cardiac arrest. This same gent is also the President of World Body Building and Sports Physique, Pradip Subramaniam, passed away suddenly and of unnatural cause.

What was especially heart rending to the family was that he had shared with his siblings and father that he was feeling under the weather and that he would not be fighting. But I guess for him, duty called when the appointed fighter, Sylvester Sim, bowed out at the last minute due to insurance issues. If only he declined participating, he would still be alive today.

Time and life waits for no man and for him at the prime of his life, to be taken back to heaven is heart wrenching to his supporters and family.

Many comments received were that as a body builder, he is not trained to fight, much less fight muay thai which is rigorous combat sports.

I feel for his family. His good deed for the name of the organization he is involved in cost him his life. The various governing agencies for this celebrity fight is now investigating and reviewing how best to avoid such an unfortunate situation from ever happening again.

Another bit of news that is the talk of the town is that green activists are urging supermarkets to stop giving out plastic bags for groceries. So, the head honchos of supermarkets are huddled up and discussing this.

Many cited the inconvenience and that this will spiral to bigger issues as we recycle these bags for use as garbage bags.

Some say charge 5 to 10 cents per plastic bag whilst others say, ban the use of plastic bags for grocery shopping.

A caller into the radio station suggested using brown bags like the supermarkets in USA. This is not quite practical nor possible as the brown bag cannot be reused as garbage bags.

If plastic bags become a forced to buy item, I feel that people will start throwing food waste or items just the way they are down the rubbish chutes. This is going to mess up the bin centers and attract rodents and pests.

Personally, I use plastic bags for rubbish but I use it to the max. This means that I collect and bag as much waste into one plastic bag before I tie it up and throw it down the chute. Food waste would go into a smaller bag and wrapped in newspapers so that it will not be water bomb effect when thrown down the chute.

I do not like clogging my kitchen pipes or drains with waste food and would painstakingly use kitchen towels to wipe of food stains on crockery before washing them. This makes washing a lot easier and kitchen pipes choke free.

I also use lesser water in rinsing the dirty plates after washing as it is much easier to remove soap suds from not so greasy plates.

I guess the solution is really to budget food apportionment well so that there is no wastage. I keep left overs and re-cook it to another concoction for meals. Recycling for eating 😉 but sometimes the recipes turn out disastrous as once I recycled something and it smelt like a dead cockroach or at least I imagined that is what a dead cockroach would smell like LOL!




A Sad Reminder – Onscreen Suicide Drama

I only have snippets of window time to watch the goggle box and it is usually from 10pm to 11pm before I zonk off to lala land with my inanimate furball Garfield!

A new local tv series has been playing for some weeks now and it is the second season of Lion Moms. 

The plot is simply a tale of 4 mothers with their respective struggles with Primary 1 school for their children in an elite school. 

This is a true reflection of mothers in lil red dot.

The remedial classes, enrichment classes, extra curricular classes…all for the purpose of ensuring their child does well in Primary 6 School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) age 12 and get into yet another elite secondary school.

In this series, the characters are:

Duraini with daughter Nabilah in Primary 1. Du is her nickname and she is a lawyer by profession, married to a Lt Col Hussein in the army. Naiblah is a child in the gifted program and she is attending classes round the clock till she goes to bed.

Chaey Lian, a single mum with a son in Primary 6, daughter in Primary 4 and a hearing impaired daughter in Primary 1. She was branded a monster mum as she was caught on phone video, slapping her Primary 4 daughter for defying her wishes to remain in the gifted program.

Ming Yee is a single unwed mum with a primary 1 son who is a gifted child but is given little luxuries in life as his mum wants to ensure her son grows up understanding the value of money and the need to be frugal. She works as a retail shop assistant who got bypassed as store manager as she is not a degree holder.

Last character is a mother married to a failed businessman with a primary 1 daughter who is not good at studies nor sports. The daughter of this mother is spoilt, lazy and irresponsible. This mother’s father is an underground thug with a lot of money and she is estranged from her father, till her husband hit rock bottom and without money she went back to her father for financial assistance.

There is another character of an 11 year old school boy, Winston, who lives alone with a domestic helper. His parents are out stationed throughout the year and he goes through school, struggling on his own with grades to upkeep so that he can enter an elite Secondary school. Without parents in Singapore, he latches onto Du for family support.

Last night was a heart breaker for me as it reflected the realities of a child’s struggles with grades and living up to the expectations of parents.

Winston twisted his ankle badly before the badminton tournament that would help him clinch a place in the elite secondary school as he had done badly in school work scoring 28/50 marks. Winning this tournament was the backdoor for him to get into that elite secondary school as a potential sportsman  In desperation, he tried to sabotage his opponent’s badminton raquet by cutting the strings. He was caught by the competitor’s coach and disqualified.

In desperation, he took the lift up to the 32nd floor and leapt off the building – suicide was his only option.

I was deeply affected by Winston’s death on screen as portrayed as he was a well behaved child, a prefect and generally did well in his studies. Without parenting support, he took to Duriani’s family and enjoyed the “family” times he shared with them.

Du was devastated and tonight I will watch the continuation. I will bawl my eyes out as I love this character he portrays.

Are grades the only obvious selection choices for further education? Our government has emphasized that all schools are good schools. Yet, parents are always vying for elite schools like Raffles Institution (where prominent leaders, surgeons and who’s who are “created”), Anglo Chinese School, St Joseph’s Institution, Chinese High, Catholic High, Nanyang Girls School, Tao Nan etc.

Children have forgotten how to be children. They do not romp about in the garden, play marbles, climb trees or do anything that involves no school work.

If any activity is organized for the child, the motive or motivation behind it is for entry to a good school.

Winston’s screen death is a timely reminder of what price to pay for school entry?

I sincerely hope that parents understand that each child is unique and not all can be elitists. Some are smarter, some are vocationally stronger, some are creative, and others are who they are..plain and simple.

Thank goodness I do not face the pressures of being a parent but even if I was a parent, I will not push a person beyond limits as from my own experience, I grew at my own pace – getting smarter as I age and doing well in society. So what if I have a string of degrees when an employer can choose to be rats?

Que sera sera….




Wednesday’s Think Thoughts

Work has picked up steam and I am so busy that I work through lunch. I am back to being zombie status i.e. work, eat, sleep and work – after house chores on weekends LOL!


Social work has taken a back burner for me but I too, will pick up momentum this week as I begin getting involved again.


Duke of Yore has insisted that we all be CPR trained so as to be emergency prepared. I have no objection to this as it is a useful life saving skillset.


Today’s newspapers are not all doom and gloom. Storm Irma has taken a smaller column whilst our First ever female Malay President will take office soon. President Halimah Yacob had a walk over as the other 2 candidates did not meet the eligibility criteria set.


The Presidential role is one of a ceremonial one, with one major goal of being the country’s custodian of reserves. It takes a sane and non political member to be able to do this job.


There is a lot of griping that Mdm Halimah Yacob was once an MP, then she became a speaker of Parliament and the gripe goes on.


When her name popped up for candidacy, I did not bat any eyelid. To me, these are non-issues. Maybe I do see the bigger pictures in life. As a citizen of lil red dot, I am more concerned about the daily bread and butter issues. Jobs, employability and caring for the burgeoning seniors who will age faster than any of us.


Another article tugged at my heart – In 2015, Carmen Mark, a nursing student died of an arterial rupture in the brain and her parents donated her organs on pronouncement of her brain dead status.

The recipient of her heart, Ms Serene Lee, traced the donor’s family over the last 2 years to “stay in touch” – donors and recipients are not to know who is who but with social media these days, nothing is quite impossible I guess.


Good news is – the parents of the Carmen Mark has been missing their late daughter and wrote on Facebook how they wish they could listen to the heartbeat of their late daughter’s heart.

So, Serene Lee has written to the family and they have agreed for a meet up in September this year for them to listen to Carmen’s heart. Serene had mentioned that she will bring a stethoscope too.

Between the 2 articles, I did not wish to dabble in the Presidential role – simply because, I cannot change that outcome.


As for Carmen, I respected the parents for giving up their late daughter’s organs to save lives. Not many will do so as local culture says it is taboo not to be buried or cremated “whole”


Meanwhile the netizens of lil red dot are complaining about a Malay Lady President – why? Because it has been decades since 1960s when a Malay has been elected President – since our 1st President Mr Yusoff Bin Ishak. So, the government had ring fenced this election to be reserved specially for Malay candidates. This is fair as Malays are a minority race in lil red dot. Netizens think it is not. We are Singapore and we are inclusive with racial harmony at the top of our priorities.


Meanwhile, my favorite radio station 91.3 FM with Glenn Ong and the Flying Dutchman are counting down to the top hit of the 1980s and I enjoy listening to Boy George (Karma Chameleon, U2, Phil Collins etc) – I grew up studying with those songs and clean forgot about them till this revival now ongoing till tomorrow, where voters will elect their top 1980 hit song!

Happy Wednesday folks and thank you for listening to this babbling brook!