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“Precious Gems 4″ by CEO Ms Angeline Wee
26 August 2016

Through the gates to one of our patient’s home, I saw three young girls hovering around Ah Ma (Grandma), one rubbing down Ah Ma’s chest, the second wiping her forehead with a cloth and the third massaging Ah Ma’s toes. It was a sight to behold!

Before arriving, I was briefed by our nurse that Ah Ma was close to death. She had single handedly brought upher two daughters and a son, by selling chicken in the market. Her children had all accepted that Mom could leave them anytime, but it was Ah Kong (Grandpa) who would not accept that fact.

We were greeted by one of Ah Ma’s daughters, who had taken leave just to be with Mom. In fact, all of Ah Ma’s three children, their spouses, together with six grandchildren were all there. The three younger grand-children were in the room playing with their toys.

Ah Ma was conscious and lying on her favourite easy chair. She had a fever plaster across her forehead and a feeding tube through her nose. She could not talk but I could only imagine how pleased she was, with three of her grand-kids fussing over her.

(Credit: Pinterest)

After the usual rituals of examining Ah Ma, checking on medication dosage and ensuring that Ah Ma was as comfortable as possible, our doctor and nurse called for a meeting with Ah Kong and his children. We sat round the dining table and Ah Kong said “Why can’t she be cured? My friend had cancer and after operation, everything OK! Why cannot be like him?” Our doctor explained to Ah Kong that every person reacted differently to different treatments. Ah Kong would not take no for an answer. He had insisted that the family use the feeding tube to continue feeding Ah Ma. He felt that if she wasn’t fed, the family was giving up on her. Our doctor gently explained to him that as the human body shuts down, there was no need for feeding. In fact, with more food intake, there would be more secretions and Ah Ma would feel even more uncomfortable. The children asked that the feeding tube be removed, but Ah Kong would not have that. So we suggested to leave the tube as is, so as not to upset Ah Kong further. The family wanted to know how long more Mom had and our nurse provided some advice on what to expect.

That day was also “Duan Wu Jie” (Dumpling Festival). It is a colourful festival celebrated by Chinese worldwide on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. On this day, the Chinese will commonly feast on “zong zi” (dumplings). Well, Ah Kong certainly remembered and went into the kitchen and brought out a large “zong zi”. He insisted that they fed Ah Ma some. Just so that Ah Kong would be appeased, they put some onto Ah Ma’s lips for “taste”.

Our nurse asked if we should speak with the grandchildren and soon all six gathered round the dining table. “How are you feeling?” our nurse asked. “Scared” the youngest girl exclaimed. “Worried” said the next. “Frightened” said the third. “Scared” said the second youngest and the only boy amongst the six. “Why you copy me?” retorted the youngest, who was only four years old. Our nurse gently comforted the kids and reminded them that this was a beautiful journey that everyone had to take and that there was nothing to be afraid of. The three older kids started to tear; sad that Ah Ma was leaving them. The youngest then asked “Where is Ah Ma going?” “Well, I don’t know, but one day we will meet Ah Ma again” was our nurse’s wise reply. “After this, each of you must go to Ah Ma and tell her you love her. Take lots of photos with her too!”

That same Thursday afternoon, I received a most beautiful photo of Ah Ma closely surrounded by her six grandchildren. I felt very honoured and humbled to have received such a precious photo, from a family I had only met for the first time.

Ah Ma passed away peacefully and comfortably in her own home the following Monday morning.

I feel so enriched by that closely knit family, whose beautiful kids had provided such rich humanity. I have so much more to learn in my journey at HCA. In our nurse’s words “Great lessons from the little ones of God!”