Friday, 23 June 2017


Dad has good days and bad days. On a good day, he is utterly sweet, doting and forgiving. On a bad day, he would refuse his meds, hurl verbal abuses at Mum and I, trash the apartment, and threatens to kill himself by jumping off the building. Having lived this same drama for 3 decades, it takes all of my willpower to suppress the urge to utter, “You promise?” 

Well, this wicked daughter had a strange dream last night. Most of the time any details of my dreams would’ve fled by the time I awoke. Other times the dream doesn't quite add up.  For instance, in one dream I was in a mall with my friend and then poof!  I was in a fire engine racing towards a school or college of some sort.  My friend has been replaced by a very large sparrow.  My dreams can be very Alice In Wonderland.

Last night’s dream actually played out like a movie. 

In the dream my father and I sit, legs dangling from the back of a pale blue pick-up truck. My mother is nowhere to be seen. There is a row of two-storey buildings behind us. Facing us is a row of similar looking two-storey architecture. It is late afternoon and for some reason I know we are in Hong Kong (even though the setting is really Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park). I see a queue forming outside an ice cream shop directly in front of us. I look up and the sun turns into a runny egg yolk. Sunset! People are leaving the shop and scurrying away. I leap off the truck and asks my father for 40 dollars. Was it 40 HKD? It must be so for we are in Hong Kong, no? 

I walk into the shop and removed two large chocolate ice cream in cones from a freezer compartment. Even as I make my way to the cashier the ice cream begins to soften. The biscuit cones are going limp right before my very eyes. There isn’t a moment to lose! The cashier tells me, “You can choose to pay with HKD or TWD.” At this point I notice that I have a money pouch hanging upon my waist. It is filled with TWD. With an ice cream cone in each hand, I allow the cashier to help herself to cash from the pouch. Hurry, I wanted to say to her.  Can’t you see I’m running out of time? 

I step out of the shop and it was already night time. Our little pale blue pick-up truck is still in the same place, illuminated by white florescent lights from the building behind it. I spot my mother but do not see my father. I push one of the melting chocolate ice cream cones into my mother’s hand. She takes a bite and I actually hear the biscuit crunch. I ask her, “Where’s papa?” and she answers, “Didn’t you know? He has gone to the hospital.” I’m looking down at the melted ice cream in my hand. It’s too late, it’s too late! 

I start to weep. 

My face was wet with tears when I awoke. That was too vivid and too weird!  I was crying so hard my nose was congested and I had to sit up in bed. The apartment was silent except for Dad’s snores that vibrated from the next room. Wave upon wave of sadness hit me. My eyes were like two unmanned taps. I was crying when I was inside the bathroom. I was crying as I drank a glass of water. It would take another two hours or so before I fell asleep once more. 

I guess despite the heart ache, frustration, and mental abuse I’m not ready to let my father go.

May you share many, many happy moments with your loved ones before time runs out.

Sunday, 18 June 2017




Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Sure enough the rainbow was forewarning for stormy days ahead. The day after it appeared Dad became obsessed with dust in our living room. 

“The entire apartment is coated in dust,” he claimed. “It comes in via the kitchen window and the air carries it through the living room.” 

“The walls, furniture and floor are plastered with brown particles!” 

The trouble is, we (our helper, Mum and I) don’t see any dust particles. Mum is OCD.  Dust has zero chance of survival in our home, especially if the dust is as thick as Dad describes it.  What got Dad really upset was when I recommended that we set up an appointment with the eye specialist. 

Explosive tantrums ensued.

On Saturday morning, Dad demanded that I lodge a complaint with HDB.  To appease him, I did.

On Sunday afternoon, under Dad’s watchful supervision, I dragged a vacuum cleaner around the living room for almost an hour, paying close attention to every nook and cranny. 

But Dad wasn’t the least satisfied. On Sunday evening he threw a violent fit. 

Dad: The dust is so thick. It cannot be good for anyone’s health. I just don’t understand how you can say you don’t see it!

Dad: Do you or do you not see it?  Don't lie!  Listen to your own conscience!

Mum: ??

Me: ??

Dad: (hysterical) The entire place is coated with dust!  You keep saying you don't see it!  But I see what I see.  It is there but you say it isn't!!!  All of you - 3 against 1 - conspiring to make me think I'm crazy!

Mum: ...

Me: (inaudible) $#@%*& 

Dad: (very audible) $#@!&*#@&^%$#!>!@#$%^&*!*&%$#@!*&^%#$%^*<!!!!! The place is a mess!  You keep saying you don't see it!  But I see what I see.  It is there but you say it isn't!!!

Dad: (repeats above for 25 minutes)

After 3 dramatic days, I began to see. That perhaps this is the onset of dementia. A friend once advised that a dementia patient often suffers from hallucination. He sees what he sees and truly believes in it. To avoid conflict we must not try to dissuade or show signs of disbelief. Instead it is important to VALIDATE. So if he says he sees mice in the bedroom we should ask “how many?” 

Now we’re doing just that. Our helper, Naw, has been cleaning the living floor twice (sometimes thrice) a day. It seems that the episode has temporarily come to pass. Until the next episode.

For more drama from the high floor, watch this space.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

Dad has good days and bad days.  Once in a while, he can be sweet and docile.

Most days we owe him a living.

He was downright despicable this morning.  I was seriously ready to throw in the towel.  Then I arrived in the office and found a vivid slice of rainbow on the carpet.

Perhaps the Universe is telling me to hang in there.  Perhaps I need to put up with the torrent for longer.  Perhaps I should go out and buy a slice of rainbow cake, eat it, and relax.



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