It’s the 10th day. I’m standing by a hospital bed at the intensive care unit, feeling helpless, listening to the beeps of sophisticated machines.
I’m staring at the weak and feeble body of the woman I have known all my life – my mother.
Every so often I catch myself making nervous glances at the vital signs monitor, observing the change of numbers displayed on the screen.
I touch her warm hands, bruised from endless IV drips and pricking of needles. She opens her eyes and grins at me, displaying a fine set of teeth. Although she’s nearing 80, Mum hasn’t lost the sparkle in her eyes, and the oh-so-sweet smile that could charm us over and over again. Despite being heavily drugged by a daily dose of antibiotics, she maintains her wit and humour, never losing her radiance.
Today she looks exhausted. “I want to go home, I’m bored”, she sulked. I take a deep breath, and whispered softly to her ears, “soon, very soon.”
I hate lying to Mum. I hate not knowing how long she needs to be hospitalised. I hate thinking that in a couple of minutes the nurses will ask me to leave as they need to get yet another blood sample from Mum. I hate hearing her groan in pain. I hate the fact that it’s her fourth hospital stay within a period of less than 2 years.
My thoughts were interrupted by the frail voice of an 87-year old man. I look over at Dad, who was bending over to kiss Mum’s cheek.
Dad has mild Parkinson’s disease and at times, slow in speech and movement, but there he was, being strong for the love of his life. Dad was murmuring words of encouragement to Mum, whilst gently stroking her hair. The beauty of their relationship brings warmth to the icy cold room.
When you’re in a hospital watching your loved ones in pain and agony, you’ll have several moments of reflection. As for me, I’m continuously reminded of life, and how surreal it can be. We look forward to receiving news about the birth of a new born, and the progressive milestones of babies – their first smile, first word or first step – but we cringe when we talk about growing old, growing sick and what more, sharing stories of death.
I guess it’s pretty normal for humans to feel or react this way, but we mustn’t deny the fact that this is the reality of life. Instead of running away from it, we need to reflect on stories concerning the sick and elderly – however heart breaking they may be.
Despite the weak conditions of my aging parents, I must say that their presence has given me new-found energy. I can vouch for this because I have lived through it, and I’m lucky enough to still be living through it.
I have happy memories of my childhood. However, as a teenager, I grew up appreciating the advice of my friends a little bit more than that of my parents. In my mind, my friends understood me better.
Back then, I felt that it was cool to label my parents uncool. I just didn’t appreciate the little things my parents did. Instead, I took them for granted day by day.
Little did I know that one day – like today – I’d be missing such moments with my parents – as simple as eating a meal together, going out for a drive together, or even having conversations together.
I used to regret not spending enough time with my parents when they were still fit and able to do a lot more things. But in life, one shouldn’t sit and cry over his/her griefs, instead, one should be strong enough to pick up the shattered pieces, and build up stronger bonds of relationship in order to move on and create new, beautiful memories.
I don’t know when it happened, but I think the relationship I had with my parents changed, or in fact, blossomed, as my parents got older.