There were no significant changes to the blood test results from the one done in December 2013. Serum creatinine dropped to 299 umol/L. Since the condition of my kidneys seemed to have stabilised, I have requested for a half-yearly medical review instead of quarterly.
Renal function test, liver function test and lipid profile on 21 March, 2014.
Blood serum minerals and nutritional aneamia on 21 March, 2014
Complete blood count on 21 March, 2014.
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Three simple words
by Peter Tan. Posted on March 29, 2014, Saturday
THE living room was a haphazard mess of mismatched furniture. The previous owner of the house had them custom-made by inmates from the prison nearby. My parents did not see it fit to have them replaced since they were still in good condition. A microcomputer connected to a 16-inch colour television occupied a work desk that an uncle left behind when he moved to another state.
My father was standing beside me in a Pagoda T-shirt and a pair of loose striped cotton shorts that men of his generation usually wore. My mother made these shorts for him by the dozens. Those were the only shorts I ever saw him wear.
I was showing him something on the television. It was such a long time ago. I cannot remember what it was any more. All I know is that I had wanted to tell him one thing that I had great difficulty in coaxing out of my lips. The display on the television was just a way to get his attention while I mustered my courage.
Ours was a family that did not speak openly about matters of the heart. Expressing our inner feelings was not a forte that was cultivated. My parents, ever cautious, also always discussed sensitive issues like the Communist insurgency and the May 13 incident in hushed tones and out of earshot of us children. We were never allowed to ask why those issues happened. That was how we were brought up. Children were to be seen, not heard.
“I love you,” I finally blurted out as I held on to his arm tightly.
A chill ran down the entire length of my spine.
He was taken unaware. There was a stunned look on his face.
“Why?” he asked, partly confused, partly amused and mostly delighted.
“Because you are my father. Thank you for everything.”
I had meant to say more, to say I was sorry for making him spend so much money for my treatments, for having to take care of me even in his old age and for breaking his heart when I dashed his dreams for me but those were all the words I could manage.
His eyes were wet. He tried hard to contain his emotions.
“There is no need to thank me,” he said softly, his voice almost inaudible.
There was long silence after that as we both pondered over the brief exchanges. There was never a more awkward moment for the two of us. A sense of liberation and relief overwhelmed me, nonetheless. I ultimately told him what I had wanted to tell him for the longest time.
I was proud of myself for having broken that invisible barrier that had repressed my true feelings when it came to my parents, even just for that one time. Our subsequent conversations neither moved beyond that nor did we speak about what happened that day.
One sentence. Three simple words. How often do we tell our loved ones that we love them? In our busyness to climb the career ladder, to put food on the table and to provide all the creature comforts for our family, we frequently neglect to bear in mind why we are doing what we are doing in the first place.
The tragedies in the recent weeks have clearly reminded us once again of the fragility of life. We or our loved ones could be here today but gone tomorrow. Sometimes, we get to say our poignant goodbyes. Other times, we are unknowingly parted without any indication.
For one reason or another, we tend to procrastinate when it comes to things like spilling out what is in our hearts. There are always other priorities that require our undivided attention. What we fail to realise is that there is always more money that can be made, more mountains to be climbed and more business deals to be sealed.
Our loved ones on the other hand are each unique and the only ones we will ever be blessed with in our lifetime. Spending quality time with them is a goal we must strive for at all costs. Life is short. There are times when opportunities missed can never be regained.
The failure for us to share our feelings with them is one regret many of us have had to live with for the rest of our lives, wishing we could have one more chance at it. Unfortunately, regrets can not be be use to buy back time, missed opportunities nor loved ones.
Let us not wait. It does not cost us anything to tell our parents, spouse and children how much they mean to us. Before this day is over, however busy we may be, make it a point tell them how much we love them and how much they have made our life more meaningful. Give them a hug. Give them many hugs. They are worth it. They are worth our time. They are worth the only thing money cannot buy — our love.
Comments can reach the writer via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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He made his mark
by Peter Tan. Posted on March 22, 2014, Saturday
WHAT is death? Is it the end? Or is it a new beginning in another place? These are questions we do not normally mull over out of taboo or simply because they are issues that are furthest from our minds. It usually takes the passing of someone close to make us ponder profoundly over our own mortality and the meaning of life.
My father-in-law passed away at a ripe old age of 83 last week. His demise was sudden and unexpected although he had been unwell for a couple of weeks before that. There is always this notion that our parents would live forever even though deep in our minds we know for certain that they would die one day.
I did not know my father-in-law that well. We were separated by the distance of the cities that we lived in and our interactions limited to the few hours spent together during meals whenever we could find time to visit him and my mother-in-law.
On the long drive back for his wake and funeral, my wife Wuan, the second of his three daughters, reminisced about the full life her father had lived. He was a school teacher for over 30 years. He swam competitively, and participated in 10-pin bowling and golf tournaments.
The many trophies and medals proudly displayed in the living room are proof of his athletic talents. Nevertheless, the silverware did not define him as the person he truly was.
Wuan remembers him for teaching her and her sisters swimming and bowling. He was that hands-on when it came to educating them on these activities. During the school holidays, he would pack the family into his green Morris Oxford and took them on road trips to Taiping, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
He was an accomplished photographer. He developed his own film and printed his own photographs that chronicled the important milestones of his daughters and the family. Each daughter has an album of those important events, which will be even more treasured now than ever.
The son of a Nyonya from Taiping, he was adept at cooking some of the most mouthwatering Peranakan dishes that Wuan still craves for every now and then. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to savour his specialities like perut ikan, otak-otak and tau eu bak, which coincidentally are also my favourites.
In his lifetime, he touched many lives in his vocation as an educator. His former students, now in their 60s and 70s, who went to pay their last respects, remembered him as a kindly teacher who was always patient with them during classes. That alone spoke volumes of him although he had retired from teaching for more than 20 years and had probably taught them 50 years ago.
As for me, I remember him most for what he said to me during our first meeting. I was a nervous wreck then as I was not sure how he would take to me as a son-in-law who is also a wheelchair user. Would he chide me? Would he ignore me? There were a thousand and one questions and doubts swirling in my mind.
All my apprehensions melted away when I heard him say, “Welcome to the family.”
He never judged me. He accepted me for who and what I am. I could not have asked for a better father-in-law and a better family.
The last major decision he made in his life was to get initiated into the Roman Catholic Church a few years ago. He chose Mark as his baptismal name. Incidentally, the house that he lived in for the past 40 years was just across the road from the church but he had never once stepped into it until then.
There were tears and sniffles throughout the wake, especially from my mother-in-law. We grieved. We prayed. We ruminated. Family and friends came to lend a hand to see us through the trying period. They also came to celebrate a life that was well lived. I am certain my father-in-law had no regrets about how his life turned out.
As family members, we have one regret though. We did not get to say our goodbyes to him. He was staying in a nursing home temporarily while the house was in the process of being renovated to accommodate him. None of us were there when he breathed his last. That is our regret.
Having experienced the loss of my parents and now my father-in-law, I have come to see death as a rite of passage that all of us have to go through one time or another. Eventually my time will come, too. It is a process of life. There is no escaping from it.
While I cannot say that I am fully prepared for it, I try to live each day to the fullest. I live as if it could be my last. There is nothing macabre to this. I have lived an interesting life in spite of the circumstances. Every new day I wake up to is a bonus by itself. I am contented.
When I finally go meet my Maker and He asks me, “What have you done with the time I gave you?” I hope I will be able to tell Him that I left the world a little better then when I first came just like what my father-in-law did with his time here.
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