My father passed away in 2007 at the age of 93. Just a few days ago, on the 3rd of November, my mother, at the age of 87, followed him into heaven. It was almost exactly 2 years and a month later. Suddenly, even though I am a middle aged man, I feel like I have been orphaned.
My parents were a very loving couple and so very co-dependent that when my dad passed away, there were many from within family and friends who thought that my mother would not last very long. Well, she carried on for another 2 years. It was not an easy two years though. Even though she had no shortage of family, friends and visitors, it was clear that she missed him very much and had a loneliness and an emptiness that none of us was able to fill.
When they were both younger, she would always ask my dad to promise to allow her to die first for the very fact that she felt she could not bear being alone in the world without him. Very good naturedly, my father would assure her that he would definitely not go first so she was assured that he would be there to take care of her. However, as it turned out, that was one promise he was not able to keep.
And so, I think these last two years were perhaps for my mom a very sad and lonely time. There were, of course, happy days during this period. She particularly enjoyed the visits of her grandchildren. She still had a good appetite and was still able to enjoy her favorites like barbequed pork, fried banana fritters and durian fruit. On her penultimate day on earth, she asked me to get her some satay (seasoned meat skewers grilled over a charcoal fire) for dinner. To my everlasting regret, I was not able to do so because of heavy rain. She even placed an order with my brother for an Indian specialty called mee rebus for lunch the next day; and not any mee rebus but one from a particular shop that she used to take us to as kids.
Yet despite her relatively good appetite, she was extremely malnourished. I suppose, the scientific explanation would be that she was not able to absorb enough of the nutrients. However, our hearts tell us that she was sad and just wanted to move on.
She took to her bed and began to cut her ties to the world about three months ago. Perhaps the second anniversary of my father’s passing weighed more heavily on her than we had imagined. A doctor examined her that very morning and declared that her lungs were clear and her heart beat was incredibly strong for someone her age. By noon, she had breathed her last, for no other reason perhaps than that she was ready, nay, desirous to go.
I am glad that she is beyond this period of loneliness and suffering. I believe that she is now home in heaven with God and reunited with my father; altogether in a much happier place and at peace.
For me though, the world seems a more dangerous and wild place as if a great source of love and light had been extinguished. Even though like all children, I sought to establish my independence from my parents, deep down I was always glad and relieved to know that their love and support was a constant in this tumultuous life. And now, with them both gone, I cannot help feeling like a 47 year old orphan.
To family and friends, I thank you for all your love shown. I thank you for your faithful visits to my mother, for your prayers, support, kind words and actions. God bless you all.