The way to go
In the face of death, one is often reminded of what really matters in life.
WRITE on Death,” Evelyn said. “My father has just died and we were unprepared for it.”
Hers was a conservative family in which it was taboo to speak of Death. Her mother stopped her each time the subject was mentioned. “Don’t say such things,” she reprimanded, and changed the subject.
Janine foolishly decided to say things about Death. Her friends admonished her: “You’re being morbid.”
Janine looked into the mirror for signs of morbidity. Her graying hair was her one outstanding feature. It announced she was now elderly, an “Auntie,” past 70 years. And yes, nowadays she did think of Death, of going away and never returning to this earth.
Yong Tai came to her mind. She was an 80-year-old lady who lived in a nursing home. She had had a stroke, was quiet and uncomplaining. Considered senile, she was often bullied.
Yong Tai, however, was both alert and lucid.
In one particular instance, due to carelessness, she was almost dropped whilst being lifted from her wheelchair.
When later she remarked: “I could go any moment,” it was more
At the core of each individual is a blueprint to live harmoniously and to care for his neighbour. a simple statement of fact rather than of blame. She faced the negligence towards her without anger or retaliation. Such forgiveness was all the more remarkable when she revealed her pain: “Inside of me,” she confided to someone, “my heart is full of tears.”
Another time, she said to that same person: “It’s good of you to visit your mother regularly. It gives me a chance to talk to someone else.” She was appreciative of even such a small act of kindness from anyone who paid attention to her.
As Janine thought about Yong Tai, she saw that the latter’s peaceful and serene spirit had brightened up the nursing home. When the time came for her to go, the place would be less bright for her absence.
People like her are not dimin- ished by indifference nor cruelty. Janine reflected that even Death, which rules that nothing can be taken to the grave, is powerless to rob Yong Tai of her special value. The forgiving person she has become enables her to face Death with equanimity. She has been freed from fear. On the other hand are those who harbour thoughts of revenge and anger, and become victims of their own obsessions.
Within our hearts is a fear of retributive justice, if not in this life, then in the next. Our conscience informs us of this. A person may employ reasons to conclude the Hereafter is just so much conjecture. No one has ever returned from the dead to tell us about it. There may be no after-life at all.
Yet, the heart has its own
is a fortnightly page dedicated to senior citizens. We welcome real-life stories – happy, sad, inspiring, heartwarming – from readers who are 55 and above. E-mail them to email@example.com. Contributions which are published will be paid. Please include your full name, IC number, address and telephone number. reasons. In an effort to answer the unanswerable, in the Chinese culture, for example, paper replicas of all kinds of luxuries are offered to the departed, and burnt. From the ashes, arises the hope that the citizens of the Underworld have received them.
The hope for this to really happen flies in the face of improbability and refuses to be denied. It is “hoping against all hope.”
Yet others have an even stronger conviction than hope. They hold that what they believe and live by are realities, although they run counter to what is seen around them. They choose to be loving, unselfish and truthful. They do not compete with the Joneses, or Ahmads or Wongs, nor to get ahead by any means whatsoever, or to be on top at all costs. Theirs is an alternative way of living a simple and unpretentious lifestyle.
At the core of each individual is a blueprint to live harmoniously and to care for his neighbour. How else to explain the standard words: “Rest in Peace,” which the living invoke upon the dead? Throughout the world, peace talks continue. In the end, peace is what the human heart longs for.
For peace to happen, an adjustment in priorities has to take place. Sacrifice, for instance, so often taken for granted, needs to be acknowledged and valued, whereas arrogance with its trophies of prestige, wealth and power, ought to be relegated to its proper place, somewhere further down the scale of admiration!
The dilemma of human existence is that somewhere, and it could be anywhere, between Hope and Faith, are doubts. The more one ponders, the more doubts will surface. At the extreme end is Despair. When Death draws its final curtain and blackness descends, the annihilation is total. The thought is so repelling that most people, Evelyn’s mother included, shrink from it in abhorrence. How not to cringe from a black nothingness from which there is no answer?
It takes the moment of Death – always a surprise, even when known to be imminent – to compel a search for the truth, for living to be tenable. The search for the meaning of life then begins.
One undeniable fact is Death’s ability to strip one of everything one possesses in life. Yet the goodness which a person like Yong Tai returns for habitual meanness, can never be wrested from her. Even from the grave, it will cast a glow on the remembrance of a frail old lady who lived, and faced death, fearlessly.
Janine considered this could be the way to go.
Peace is the answer: