Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's been 24 days since papa left us and life is back to how it was before papa's passing. The only difference is that there are now four people in the house instead of five and that papa's bed is no longer in the common area of the house. Despite his absence, papa is constantly in my head. I think for as long as I continue to live in this house, I will continue to think of him every day. I don't know why but sometimes I still shed tears whenever I think of him. For example, I went to TM today to end papa's telephone subscription and much to my own surprise, I had difficulty telling the girl over the counter that papa had died. I managed to hold back my tears but I was taken aback by my own emotions. I felt my nose wet as I wrote a letter to papa's 96 year old friend, informing him about papa's passing. It was just out of my control and I cannot explain why.

TO be honest, I was not emotionally close to papa when he was sick. I did not now how to communicate with him. In fact, our relationship had already become distanced ever since I left home to further my studies. By the time I moved home to stay with my parents, papa was already diagnosed with Dementia. Thus I never really had any heart to heart talk with him, our communication was not enough to create any form of emotional attachment. Yet, I'm experiencing this and I cannot explain why.

On the other hand, mom seems to handle his passing very well. She seemed so relaxed these days. She sleeps well and laughs more. I know what I'm about to say is merely an assumption and may not be true but I believe that God brought papa to Shah Alam so that mom would get adjusted to her new living environment first. I doubt mom would have been this calm if papa had left her while we were still in Penang. Well, God always works in mysterious ways and many things that happen in our life often has its reasons and only God knows why they happen.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A tribute to Papa from a Neighbor

I will always remember Uncle Peter a kind man - calm, soft spoken and warm-hearted. His kindness and your mom's hospitality always made your home a place where your friends feel welcomed.

His kindness (of giving me many song tapes) allowed me to enjoy numerous beautiful hymns and songs of praise, ...not to mention the many times when he and your mum allowed me to play the piano forte in your home when I still could not afford a piano.Thinking back, I greatly appreciate all your tolerance of me for 'polluting' your sense of hearing. :P

I could still remembered him riding his 'lau yar' motorbike with either your mum, or one of you sitting on the pillion behind passing by my house...

And how I enjoyed his hospitality during Christmas, the BEC gatherings and many other occassions.

Oh yes, I will not forget the good old Uncle Peter.

Both he and your mum have brought you up well and turned you guys into fine persons.
I've heard in the past that the soul of the deceased would return home on the 7th day after his death and that the chinese would place white powder on the floor so that they would know if their dearly departed did return. I thought about this belief when papa passed on and wondered if it was true. I also wondered if papa would go home to Penang or here in Shah Alam and my mom said 'of course here lah, there's no one at home in Penang, there's no point for him to go there.
So I got a little anxious after papa's seventh day prayers. I wondered if papa would appear in my dreams and he did not. Instead, I slept more soundly than I usually did and did not even know that Leslie had left for work. Mom told me the following day that papa did come home and she said that there was a lot of people gathering around his bed. I asked her if she saw papa and she said she did not and that the people were blocking her view. I got a little skeptical towards mom's statement. Besides, she also said that she saw one of my brother-in-law among the crowd. My brother-in-law is still alive and thus I concluded that mom was just dreaming.

Yesterday was the 9th day after papa's death. while we were preparing dinner, Sokha confessed that she saw papa early in the morning at 1 am and she ran back to the room. According to her, she was awaken by mom's snoring. It sounded like how papa used to snore and she walked out to check on him, forgetting that he had already passed on. As she walked towards papa's bed, she came to her senses that papa had passed on. Much to her surprise, she saw papa washing his hands and wiping them like how he used to while he was still physically able and he had that cheeky smile on his face. She turned and walked quickly back to her room. She said papa looked happy but it terrified her to see what she saw. Was she dreaming? Only Sokha knows.

While we listened to her, a little florescent green praying mantis rested on the table. It hopped all over me. We tried to take a picture of it but it was blurry. This little praying mantis hopped around on Mary and Leslie too for more than three hours. It was still in the house, resting on the sofa when I went to sleep at around 12. I joked and said maybe it was a symbol of papa and I was scolded for being rude. Nevertheless, that insect amused me because I've never seen an insect behave the way that praying mantis did. It was just too active. I am not saying that the praying mantis was papa, it's such a coincidence to have this insect come during this period of time.

I do miss papa. From time to time, I will shed tears when I think of him. I understand now what is it like to mourn. I'm not sad that he has died. I just miss him.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

At 12 noon, 1 Feb 2011, papa breathed his last. He could not say goodbye, he went silently like how he always comes and goes. Papa was never a loud man, he disliked loudness and valued peace very much.

I was only three when papa retired from the police force. I guess I was the privileged one to have him present in my growing years. He bathed me, fed me and taught me what he could. I remembered how upset I was when he told me that God was my Father while he was just a temporary replacement of Him on earth. I remember asking him why then is my mom my one and only mother and not just a temporary one like him. He had no explanation and I got angry. Papa only hit me once throughout this 30 years of my life and my sisters told me that I refused to speak to him for a week after that hit. For years, I was papa's little hairdresser. I combed his hair twice a day once in the morning after his bath and the second one after his afternoon nap in the afternoon. I would sprinkle Vitalis on his head and comb his hair over and over again until I was satisfied with what I saw in the mirror. Sometimes he accepted my masterpiece while on other times, he combed his hair again after I left the room.

Papa had a few expensive hobbies. One of it was collecting popular songs. He loved music and spent his pocket money making hundreds and hundreds of copies of popular songs, hymns, instrumental music, workshops, prayers.....whatever he could get hold of and interest him. He did not allow us to touch or use his cassette player without his supervision because it was his 'little baby' and was expensive. He spent hours every day maintaining his player. Thanks to this hobby, we grew up listening to all types of songs. I enjoy listening to "Keroncong", oldies, 'Theresa Teng', Jim Reeves, Slim Whitman, Nana Mouskouri because of papa's influence.

Although I became less attached to papa as I grew older, papa still had influence in my school life. He used to carry me on his bike to school, tuition, church and so on. Although I often took the public bus, papa was my most reliable transporter. Rain or shine, he was there. He was rarely late neither did he ever say no to my requests for a lift. To many of my school friends, papa was a handsome dad. He often took off his helmet (showing off his partially bald head) and sat relaxingly on the bike as he waited for me. Our teachers respected papa too. He was once the chairman of the PIBG and he was committed to his position.

Peter Vaz was a man whom everyone respected. He was a man who did not interest gossip makers. People respected him for his simplicity and kindness. Financially, he was not rich. He never even owned a car or traveled out of Peninsular Malaysia. He never even owned a passport but people remember him fondly. Even though he was bed-ridden, he still had people traveling the distance to visit him, to call and ask about him, who sent greeting cards. With his pension of RM 700, he raised four daughters, sent three to University, one to the nursing school. With that little salary, he also gave us shelter and never deprived us of the necessities in life.

Papa is not a millionaire but he will be remembered dearly by everyone. I should not be sad. He has lived a good life. He is in a better place right now.

Rest in Peace Papa. Thank you for raising me,and for sharing what you could share.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

We celebrated our first anniversary two days ago. There was no candlelight dinner but I was glad with how we started our day. We attended mass in St. Peter's church in Padungan, Kuching early in the morning.It was the 7.30am mass but the church was full (an athmosphere one would never see in the Semenanjung churches on an early Sunday morning). Many people even had to sit outside the church. The church was so alive on that early morning. The choir sang so beautifully, I felt as if I was attending mass on a Christmas morning. After mass, we went for breakfast and then to the market. To some, it sounds so unromantic but I was contented.