When all else fails, we usually fall back to family for support, be it moral or financial. I wished I could say that with absolute conviction. Unfortunately, these are the people who had let Mum and me down again and again. When help was most needed, they abandoned us like rats scurrying away from a sinking ship. In times of need, the ugly and two-faced are thoroughly weeded out from the true and the sincere. I had blogged about this on June 10, 2003 titled True Friends in which I wrote:
There are those who help and there are those who yelp. There are those who are sincere and there are those who act sincere. In times of crises, we see who is genuine and who is false. Blood relations do not figure in this equation. Brothers and sisters could just stand aside and watch indifferently while friends and neighbours provide helping hands that aid unconditionally. It is in times like these, true friends shine brightly, and false friends, like a sore thumb, are revealed prominently.
Several incidents after that entry extremely disappointed as well as offended my good sense, and Mum?s, too, I am sure. People who should be helping us, especially Mum in her hour of need, did not, and people who were helping were accused of having ulterior motives. Instead of giving Mum peace of mind during her illness, they came and tormented her with gossips and chided her in her sickbed for not listening to them. I am very convinced that Mum was deeply hurt by those callous actions but she was too weak and too sickly to say or do anything.
And then there were those whom Mum had greatly helped during their times of need but never once had they come to help Mum when any little help was most welcomed, knowing very well that I could not look after Mum all by myself. Then there were those who had misappropriated Mum?s share of my father?s estate and who had refused to give us the money that Mum rightfully deserved so that I could at least get a maid to help look after her during those crucial times. I was not asking for more than what Mum ought to receive yet they ignored my pleas without hesitation.
Looked after Mum by myself I did, with a lot of help from friends and neighbours. Ah Lian, Soon Leong?s wife, had helped with the housekeeping, cooked lunch for us for several months and then helped Mum bathe when she was too weak to do it by herself. For all the times that Mum was hospitalised, Mr. Tan had fetched me to see her in the evenings after work. Whenever he could, he would also visit Mum during his lunch break to check on her. The one week that Wuan was here, she had helped clean and change diapers for Mum who had become bedridden. Not many people would have done that but she did it with such care that anybody who did not know better would have thought that she was Mum?s daughter. Such caring friends are hard to come by indeed.
And I tell those who had forsaken us during those times of need to look into their hearts and see how they had short-changed Mum for all the kindness and generosity that she had so unconditionally showered on them when she was able. These were also the people who had kicked up a fuss when their names were left out of the obituary. These are the petty minded people with greedy hearts and no compassion. These are kith and kin I do not need and do not want to have anything to do with, ever again.
However, for every false and unkind relative I have, God has richly rewarded me with caring friends many times over. Friends like these did not need to be asked favours from. They came and volunteered to do whatever was needed of them and after their tasks were accomplished, they left quietly without expecting reward of any kind. Mum was blessed despite her condition. I, too, am blessed for I had seen the face of God in those who had rallied round us when we needed it most.