Dad and Mom left the Memorial Garden about 10:30am that Monday morning (Sept 20). The mood in the car was solemn and quiet. Dad was in his thoughts, and Mom in hers. Our thoughts met though when we both agreed to stop by Ipoh for a quick lunch break.
Mom's mobile beeped at one point. There was a TEXT MESSAGE from Uncle JC. Mom has not heard from him for the past 3 months or so. Read his TEXT MESSAGE out loud to Dad. He wrote to update Mom about his condition, saying that he is now taking his food through a tube that is inserted through the nose, going for speech therapy because he is starting to talk with a slur, and tries to take morning walks daily for some exercise.
Reading his last line, a hard lump appeared in her throat. It read :
The best has yet to come.
I'm having a great day.
I hope You are too. JC
Uncle JC has joked several times that he liked signing off with his initials because those were also the initials of JESUS'.
Mom felt utterly rotten after reading his TEXT MESSAGE. Rotten, at the highest degree, and DOWNRIGHT ashamed. GOD had to send a person in an impossibly difficult position to
CHEER - HER - UP???
She was instantly reduced to the likes of a miserable, worthless, ungrateful (enough?) WORM. Yeah, a WORM. A king-size WORM. A pathetic WORM. Dad could only nod sympathetically. There were no words.
Mom tried to respond, first with a "Hi JC, I'm glad..." stopped and thought, how could she be glad that he was in this position, and so deleted glad and replaced with the word, sorry. That too did not seem right. He definitely would not want her to feel sorry for him. Finally she deleted the whole line, and keyed in :
"Why are you using the tube? Hope it's temporary."
His immediate reply : "No, it's permanent."
Gawd, she could just strangle herself. All those self-pitying thoughts Mom was saving for herself instantly shifted. Really sorry to tell You this Son, but Mom put away the phone and did not respond further. Her head was beginning to throb. She didn't know what to say. Plus, Dad did not volunteer any line. Reading small texts while traveling almost always is an invitation for a headache to set in. She'd send him a reply later.
Easing herself back in the seat, Mom said : Daniel also had a nose tube, but his was temporary. He only had it for three days. And now he doesn't need it anymore. JC's permanent, he said so ... so ... so, it's a different situation altogether ...
A stark silence.
Dad heard it. Mom was hoping he didn't.
Mom heard it, and wished she could swallow back all those words that purged out.
We both heard that nonsensical remark that came out from Mom's mouth. Biting her lips, and hushing her mind up, she decided not to make any further comment for the rest of the journey. Today, it must be said, she could not do anything right.
We arrived in Ipoh shortly.
It was 1:30pm. Lunch hour. Parked the car and walked to the coffee shop. At first glance, Dad and Mom saw that ALL the tables were occupied EXCEPT for one, right in the middle of the restaurant. Walked over and sat ourselves down.
We exchanged glances. All worries were cast aside for the time being, as we grinned knowingly.
Thanks Son, for making the reservations. :D