Friday, 20 December 2013

An Indomitable Spirit

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

A Change of Plans For Christmas 

We had big plans for the year-end merry-making.  Mum was preparing to whip up a big lunch the weekend before Christmas, to celebrate the Winter Solstice.   I was going to be hosting our annual family Christmas Eve dinner.  On 27th December, Mum organized a big dinner party to celebrate my parents' 45th wedding anniversary. Dotted in between these, we have got several invitations to join our friends in their Christmas celebrations.

However, these plans had to change.

Dad Is not Well

Dad was suddenly hit with a stroke and  taken to the hospital where he was also diagnosed for Parkinson's disease and dementia.  That meant he will need to be religious about his long term rehabilitative program after he got discharged.   In fact, Dad was diagnosed with a silent stroke a few years back and the neurosurgeon did advise that he should do his rehabilitative exercises regularly.  Of course, Dad was stubborn and would rather continue eating and living well in his own way than to spend time in and out of the rehabilitative cente. Even when his mobility deteriorated to the point where Mum had to assist him with basic activities like bathing, eating and walking, he would make an effort to shuffle from the bedroom to the living room, holding onto furniture for support along the way.  We were not thrilled by this because we were worried about him falling at some point but we could not stop him.

Well, this time round it certainly was not a silent one.  His left arm and leg got impacted, his speech slurred more, and he looked confused.  I had seen Dad become increasingly frail over the years, but I have never seen Dad looking completely lost and feeling helpless.  My heart broke when I saw him being wheeled through the doors to get to his MRI session.  His even frailer form looked so broken.  However, no matter how ill or weak he was, I detected fire in his eyes.

He Still Has Fire In His Belly

His frail frame disguised the fire in his belly.

When the therapist came along to ask how old he was, he slurred defiantly, " old as the hills...and older than you."  When the therapist asked him to point to his eye with his finger, and then to point to his tummy next, he slurred even more defiantly, "You are asking me to do such a simple thing?"   I had a good laugh as I thought, "That was not a question honey, my Dad wants you to stop insulting his intelligence."  He struggled to get out of his bed and told me as he pointed to the nurses, "Come on, let's go.  They are preparing for us to leave."    The nurse told him that he was not going to be able to go home just yet.  So he looked squarely at her and challenged, " That is what you say."   For once, I was thankful that he was not mobile enough to put himself in any danger.  I was however impressed that in spite of his frailty, that indomitable spirit never waned.

I grew up watching and learning from that indomitable spirit. Just before he was incarcerated without trial for his "off-center" political views in 1978,  I remembered the moments when the lackeys of the Establishment marched Dad, in handcuffs, into our home while I was having Mandarin lessons with the tutor.  I saw  how frail and helpless Dad looked then ( like he did just now as he was wheeled out of the ward for his MRI session)  surrounded by a bunch of burley men hiding behind dark glasses, walkie-talkies and cheap plastic name tags.   Yet, at that point, he tried to be stoic and promised Mum and I  that all was going to be fine.  I was however, mortified that these strangers could barge into my home to disturb the peace of a once happy family.  I was extremely angry that they handcuffed a man with alternative political views when that handcuff should be reserved for common criminals. I was even more aghast at the thought that Dad was going to be taken away from us, without trial, without any ability to defend himself.  I rushed towards Dad  shouting " Let him go, you bastards.  He is not a criminal."   Dad shot them a very angry look.  It took me years to realize the anger was not at what had happend to him, but at the terrible way in which they handled the issue in front of his family that included an 8 year old.   His indomitable spirit never waned even then, as he just wanted to protect his family.

Bringing Christmas To Dad

Dad's condition will not get better.  That is the fact about stroke.  It is a condition that should be managed, but it will never get better.  As the doctors put him through tests after tests here at the hospital, he said, " They are wasting my time."  I agree.  They are.  I felt his frustrations.  I am sure somewhere in these tests, they are doing something productive to help him get better but I am not seeing it just yet.  His lack of rest at the hospital is not helping.   I wished I could take him home with me now and we could all have a fabulous Christmas celebration together as a family.  But I know that is not possible.  So, like Dad, with his indomitable spirit, if he cannot join me for our annual family Christmas Eve dinner, I will bring the Christmas revelry to him at the hospital on Christmas Day. 

Joel, please chill the wine already.

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 44 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a Marketing and PR professional at a financial institution, her hobby as a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and Numerologist, and her family which includes a 20 year old son and 3 dogs with personality disorders.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the colloquail term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".   Together, we create a home made up with more nuts than a fruitcake but filled with plenty of love.

This is Dad when he was younger.  Wasn't exactly David Hasselhoff..more like an Asian Che Guevera eh? This picture was taken during a family vacation at Desaru Beach in Malaysia. I remembered he lost his glasses in the waves.

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