Wednesday, 7 February 2018


Putting Dad in a nursing home is the most emotional and painful decision I've ever had to make.  Dad suffers from dementia.  I don't know about other dementia patients but my father's mood can swing from happy to teary to violent within an hour. Sometimes we aren't even aware what prompted an outburst.

At the nursing home his aggression is controlled by the right medication.  There are times when Dad is very logical, other times not so much. One moment we'd be discussing the weather, politics, or the stock market when out of the blue he'd wanted to know if we’ve ever tried the fried rice.

Mum: What fried rice?

Dad: The fried rice.  They sell it here at the black market every midnight.

Mum: Is it tasty?

Dad: Very tasty. I’ve eaten it 3 to 5 times.

Me: Is it spicy?

Dad: Not at all. There are tiny crabs in them.

Dad: You would expect cooked crabs to be red or pink, but these are white.

Mum: If you don’t have cash, how do you manage to buy the fried rice?

Dad: They fed me the leftovers.

I walked into the Ward one evening to find Dad visibly disoriented.  "How did you know I was here?!!" he wanted to know.  (I was, like, WT-  dude? I'm here every evening.)

It seems that Dad had a vivid dream (although it was all very real to him) of Mum borrowing a huge amount of money from “a crippled gang leader by the name of Chan”. Dad was sure that Mum was into gambling. "What else would she need so much money if not for gambling?"

The cleaning lady (a woman from Mainland China whom I’ve befriended at the Home) informed me that Dad had refused his dinner that evening.  "I've never seen him so agitated," she said.

Fortunately, the matter was forgotten the following day.

Dad: I saw your mother in Geylang today. She circled me four times. I beckoned but she ignored me. I’m terribly sad …” (pouts)

Me: That wasn't Mum you saw. Mum doesn’t go out on her own these days. She is always accompanied by Naw.

Dad: Well, I didn’t see Naw with her …

Me: See, I was right.  Mistaken identity. And what were YOU doing in Geylang when you’re supposed to be here?

Dad: Isn’t that a mystery?

Dad (hands me an A4 size white plastic bag): I can’t figure out what’s written on this brochure. Read it.

Me: There’s nothing written on it.

Dad: Yes there is!

Me: No there isn’t. It’s just a white plastic bag.

Dad: THERE EEEES! The text are blurry so you need to read it most carefully.

Me: OK, OK, I’ll have to bring it home to read it carefully then.

Dad: Yes, yes, you bring it home and study it then tell me what it says.

Dad: I’d go home with you tonight but I’m too tired.

Me: What have you been doing today?

Dad: I’ve been making an all-purpose drill but I failed.

Dad: Are you ready to go home? I’d send you to the door but I’m tired.

Dad: If I send you to the door, will you send me back to bed afterwards? I’m afraid of falling.


Friday, 5 January 2018


A lot happened over the last two months. 

November 13 (Mon) After two years of being out helper, Naw returned to her home town in Yangon on home leave. She’ll be gone for a month. 

November 23 (Thu) I had a sore throat and fever. Took the afternoon off work and went home to rest. 

November 24 (Fri) The sore throat developed into a nasty cough. By the afternoon, mum had acquired the cough as well.  Whilst mine was a dry cough, mum had a lot of phlegm.

November 25 (Sat) Mum and I both went to the polyclinic.  Spent the rest of the day at home in bed. 

November 27 (Mon) The flu virus refused to go away.  Mum’s cough was worse than before! She was wheezing badly.  After work I accompanied her to a clinic near our place. She was prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine. 

November 28 (Tue) Was awakened at around 1:00am by dad, or rather the sound of him nagging at someone. What was going on?  I switched on the lights to the living room (He usually sleeps on the living room couch) and found him seated up, talking to himself.  He didn't have a fever but he was sniffing so I thought he might have caught a cold. I gave him a pill and told him to go back to sleep. 

2:00am - dad was still sitting on the couch
3:00am - dad he was still awake
4:00am - dad still awake.  I had a feeling he has forgotten how to sleep!
8:00am - I phoned my aunt (dad’s sister) and asked if she might look in on my parents while I was at work. 
2:00pm - I came home to find dad and mum both fast asleep. My aunt informed me that Mum was still very much unwell. 

November 29 (Wed) 
2:00am - checked on dad and he was awake
4:00am - dad was still awake
5:00am - dad was still wide awake and behaving strangely. He was definitely feverish.  Mum was awake by that time. She complained of body ache, nausea and dizziness. 
6:00am - I dialed for an ambulance. They sent 2. Both dad and mum were whisked off to the A&E at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). The doctor ordered X-rays and blood tests immediately. 
7:00am - the doctor explained the blood test results. Mum’s blood showed extremely low levels of sodium and potassium. She was put on a drip, and needed to remain in the hospital for observation. I was also shown a Index that identified the bacterial infection in her body.  It was 25.

Dad's fever was 38.7 degrees with an infection index of 115.  He definitely had to stay.

Both patients were admitted to TTSH Ward 7C and attended to by different doctors.

2:00pm - Dad complained that he hasn’t had lunch but mum swore that dad had already eaten a large bowl of porridge.

5:00pm - Mum was feeling a little better.  Dad was disoriented. 

November 30 (Thu) TTSH Mum was still on a drip and no appetite for food. Dad seemed confused and talked weird. In the afternoon Dad’s doctor phoned. She asked me many questions about dad. I told her as much as I could about his mental health, his violent nature and his abusive manner. I had a feeling the doctor took everything I said with a grain of salt. 

December 1 (Fri) TTSH The nurses were very sweet. As soon as they discovered that mum and dad were a couple, they would push mum over to dad’s bedside (or vice versa) so they can have meals together. 

December 2 (Sat)
 TTSH Dad was not so sweet. At lunch, he hurled verbal abuse at mum and me, threatening to bash our heads in.

December 3 (Sun) TTSH Mum was definitely on the mend! She was still on a drip but was chirpy and talkative. She told me that if dad continues to be abusive, she doesn’t want him home. After 30 years of verbal, physical and mental abuse, she has had enough. I stayed with mum from 10am till about 2pm.  Then I went home, took shower and a short nap. My friends all know that I’m not particularly religious but I prayed, “Dear God, we cannot have him home to abuse us any longer. Please, please, please let the doctor believe what I said on Thursday! Surely there MUST be a way to proof that he can be really violent!” 

Believe it or not, dad went berserk that very night. He accused the hospital staff of trying to murder him. 

December 4 (Mon) Mum was transferred to Ward 9 of Ren Ci Novena, where she can rest better and make full recovery.

Hwee Mian insisted on visiting dad even though she was super busy and her office is a long way to TTSH.  We had dinner together.

December 5 (Tue) Ren Ci Novena My cough wasn't any better. Went to a doctor today and was given two days of medical leave. 

Dad was reunited with mum in Ward 9.  

Dad’s doctor called. After Sunday night’s episode she ordered a brain scan on dad which revealed early dementia. I suspected he had dementia for some time because of his paranoia and hallucination. The doctor at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) kept telling me that dad was suffering from depression! 

Anyway, people always say that everything happens for a reason. I like to believe that God gave the doctor's a chance to diagnose dad’s mental condition and he can be (finally) prescribed the correct medication for his condition. 

Visited dad in the evening. He was able to tell me that both my cousins visited. Then he complained, “I’m so tired today. I spent the entire day selling cars. I don’t want to do it anymore.” I told him, “In that case, you’d better go to sleep. I’ll go next door to see mum.” 

He seemed surprised, “Your mother is here too?” What is she selling?”

“I don’t know yet but I’ll go now to find out,” said I.

“Tell your mother not to drive the truck around town.  She’s blocking the roads.” 

December 7 (Thu) Ren Ci Novena Dad’s doctor at TTSH referred us to the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to assist us in finding a nursing home for dad.

Dad is suffering from Sundowner’s Syndrome. His mind is clear during the day. In the evening he becomes insecure and frightened; agitated and aggressive. 

December 8 (Fri) Each day I visit my parents in the morning, then again in the evening.  Tough times.  Tougher still, to go home to an empty apartment.  Phyllis called to remind me, “You’re not alone. You have friends and we care and we are here to help.”  I broke down and cried.

Phyllis and (most unexpectedly) Janice (!) turned up at the hospital in the evening.  After that we had dinner together in Square 2.  Then Junie, a Medical Social Worker from AIC called and had a long conversation about dad's mental health and the type of support he is going to need.

December 9 (Sat) Ren Ci Novena  Wai Leng came along to the hospital with me.  Bought me lunch, and cherries for mum.  Even had dinner with me so I would feel less alone.  I was so grateful for her company.

December 10 (Sun) Ren Ci Novena Dad scolded mum at lunch time, "What on earth did you work on that TV commercial for?  You've made a mess everything!  You're so stupid."

Neither mum nor I knew anything about a TV commercial but I told him, "It's ok dad, the mess has been dealt with.  Don't you worry about a thing."

Lee Ling visited just after lunch time.  Dad wasn't in the best of moods so it was rather awkward.  Fortunately, mum was a little more talkative.

December 11 (Mon) Ren Ci Novena Dad is most vulnerable in the evenings.  This evening he was apologetic, "I'm sorry I haven't been a good father and you've suffered."

I protested, "You HAVE been a good father!  I've provided me with an education.  I never went hungry.  I never slept in the streets.  That's good enough for me."

Then a sudden change of subject by dad, "I've spent the past two days in the store room working and working and working but everything is still a mess.  As soon as I get out of here, I want to stop working."

December 12 (Tue) Ren Ci Novena Witnessed dad spit on, and tried to kick the nurses.  Dad told me, "I sent your mother to the store room to pick something up for me but she has gone for ages.  Can you go get her?!"

Mum and I met up with Junie, the Medical Social Worker from AIC. Mum dead serious about putting dad in a nursing home.

Picked Naw home from the airport. 

December 13 (Wed) Ren Ci Novena Mum is home from the hospital!  Dad was in a good mood.  Didn't kick up a fuss when mum went to inform him that she would be going home, much to my surprise (and relief).

December 14 (Thu) Ren Ci Novena Eugene’s parents visited. They left an ang pow for dad at his bedside table. I was there in the evening to take it home for him. When I asked about the ang pow (“Eugene said they left it at your bedside table.”), he scoffed, “No, it isn’t there. I’ve put it in my pocket.” Then he said, “The moment the people here realise I have an ang pow, they all want a share of it. I think we’re in for a lawsuit.”

It had started to rain.  Dad wanted to come home with us. I lied that I had to go downstairs to hail a taxi and will come back to pick him.  I didn't of course.  I cried buckets at bedtime.

December 17 (Sun) Baked a batch of Rock Cakes for the staff Ward 9.

Dad told me, "Maybe one day I won't remember you." 

"That's ok," I said. "because I'll remember you."

December 18 (Mon) Was at Christmas dinner with friends, when mum called. Dad had called her from the hospital - twice. “This place is on fire! Come take me home!” 

December 22 (Fri) Was invited to dinner at Kok Ying’s. I never knew she is such an amazing cook! Caught up with old friends from school days. I hadn’t hang out freely with friends for 20+ years. No calls every hour to pressure me to go home.  10pm and still no call!  I admitted to my friends that I actually called home to ask mum what SHE was doing.  "I'm watching TV!" she said.

I could get used to this liberation.

December 23 (Sat) Ren Ci Novena Dad informed me that the patient in the bed opposite him “owes money to his insurance company”.   I wonder what on earth made him suspect that.  But then I already know that with dementia comes suspicion, paranoia and hallucination.

Wai Leng came over to the apartment and gifted mum with a can of ENSURE, and me with a packet of unbleached flour!

December 24 (Sun) Ren Ci Novena Brought some roasted turkey for dad.  He informed me that the nurses in Ward 9 belong to 3 triads and that there were newspaper reporters outside his room that morning. “How did you know they were reporters?” I asked. “I just KNOW!” he cried. 

December 25 (Mon) Ren Ci Novena 'Twas Christmas Day!  Started the morning right by baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Brought some to the dedicated staff at Ward 9.  Saved some for Wai Leng.  She has been so good to me in countless ways. I can only repay her with homemade cookies.

December 26 (Tue) Dad wet his bed the previous night.  He couldn't bring himself to admit it.  He told us, "It rained last night and the area around my bed is flooded.  The water came all the way up to my chest!  Everything was wet - my bed, the clothes I was wearing ..."

December 27 (Wed) Junie gave me a list of nursing homes to choose from. Some were crappy, most were too far. I shortlisted 3 - Ren Ci Ang Mo Kio, Kwong Wai Shiu, and St. Theresa.

December 28 (Thu) Ren Ci Novena Dad asked mum, “How do I get home? Do I take the MRT?”

“It’s not a straight path from the hospital to the MRT station,” explained mum. “You'll have to take the elevator to level 2, turn left, then right, then left again …”

“Oh, forgot it then,” said dad. 

December 29 (Fri) May Seey drove me to two nursing homes - Kwong Wai Shiu and St. Theresa’s - so I would have an idea of their locations. KWS is brand new and looks like a condominium! So glad I saw it for myself. 

May Seey also gave me advice about downgrading dad from B2 class ward to C class.  C class is cheaper and entitled to more subsidies.

December 30 (Sat) Phyllis and Cat came over to the apartment to visit mum, bringing some much needed conversations into our otherwise quiet home.

January 1 (Mon) Ren Ci Novena My cousin Ambrose arrived from Sydney and went to see dad at the hospital in the morning. So happy that dad was able to carry an intelligent conversation with Ambrose. They discussed politics, stocks and shares, and stuff in general. Dad told Ambrose that this is the end of the line for him. “People who come in here won’t ever get to leave.”  That made Ambrose sad.

January 2 (Tue) Went to TTSH business office to downgrade dad from B2 ward to C ward.  Could not wrap my head around the fact that he would be staying in the same Ward 9, same bed!

January 3 (Wed) Ren Ci Novena Mum and Naw visited dad during lunch time.  They informed me that the food was bad.  No meat.  Could it be because of the downgrade from B2 to C?!

January 4 (Thu) Ren Ci Novena Ambrose visited dad again in the morning.  He's so sweet, this cousin of mine.  He flew home to Sydney in the evening.

Friday, 6 October 2017


某天lunch time 到办公室附近的蛋糕店买点心回去招待客户。

选点心时听到身后有位customer问店员:请问你们的"Classic Curry Puff"和"Singapore Curry Puff"有什么不一样?店员挂了副像屎一般的脸回答:一个里面是zero, 一个里面是马铃薯。


当我结了账准备离开时,客人终于发问了:"Zero" 到底是什么?



Saturday, 16 September 2017


Spent Thursday and Friday in a brand new resort by Banyan Tree.
I shared a room with Charmaine, and it was a sweet little apartment with a private balcony ...

... and a fully equipped kitchenette


The weather was erratic.  Sometimes bright and sunny.

Sometimes there was heavy rain.

At other times it was cloudy.

I enjoyed a 90-minute full body massage at the Angsana Spa.

For the rest of my time I was in the company of crazy people.

Saturday, 15 July 2017


Dad is 88 today.  To celebrate, we went to eat chicken rice. On a normal day, he will tell you that he doesn't like chicken. But for his birthday, he'd always ask for chicken rice!  As I recall, he also requested for chicken rice on his 80th birthday

Dad's appetite was surprisingly good.  We ordered half a chicken, large portions of roasted pork belly with crispy skin and honeyed char siew, and a bowl of laksa. Dad isn't fond of spicy food, yet he polished off all the laksa gravy, leaving us with just the noodles.

In the afternoon, when he was beaming after he devoured a creamy durian crepe, I asked him, "Are you happy?" He replied, "VERY happy!"

Being bogged down by illnesses and dementia Dad sinks deeper into depression day by day.  He is rarely happy so today is a day to be cherished.

This is my mother.  She complains that I take shitty photographs of her.  "You make me look like an old woman!"

Sunday, 9 July 2017


Dad is in one of his foul moods - he has been so for the last five days or so.  On August 1st, he'll be seeing his doctor at the polyclinic.  I really ought to recommend that Dad be tested for dementia.  

A few weeks ago, Dad's bank passbook ran out of pages.  Since he was hard of walking and hearing he did not want to go personally to the bank to get a new passbook.  I explained to him that the bank account is in his name so it would be make sense for him to make a trip.  While we were both in the bank, I enquired if I might apply for new passbooks on Dad's behalf in the future.  Yes, was the answer.  Dad simply needs to place his thumbprint on an authorisation form.  Two bank officers explained this to him separately in Mandarin before Dad affixed his thumbprint.

This week he suddenly felt insecure about the whole thing.  He claims that he didn't sign the form out of his own free will and no one at the bank ever explained anything to him.  Then he even told my Mum that that form would allow me, his daughter, to tap into his bank account and withdraw all his cash!

Each time Dad acts crazy, I'd withdraw into my own bedroom - tormented and depressed - thereby ruining too many perfectly good weekends.  Today, I decided that life is too short to wallow in another person's misery.  Today, nothing would come between and my beloved baking. Today, I made a focaccia that is by far the best one that came out of my kitchen yet.

I keep my focaccia simple.  Light olive oil,  a hint of Italian herbs, a generous scatter of coarse sea salt on the top.  No elaborate topping that would turn it into a pizza.  

This focaccia is soft and pillowy, and smells incredible.  Finally, that perfect recipe.  Finally, a focaccia that's everything I wanted it to be.

Bread dough: 300 grams Blue Jacket Bread Flour, 4 grams instant yeast, 4 grams dried Italian herbs, 2 grams caster sugar, 5 grams salt, 1 tablespoon light olive oil, 220 - 240 grams water.  Topping: light olive oil and coarse sea salt