I woke up early this morning to my mobile phone repeatedly beeping with notifications. Checking my phone, I saw that my family’s whatsapp group chat was full of messages. The last time that happened this early in the morning, it wasn’t good news.
Hesitantly, I picked up the phone and read that one of my favorite uncles had just been hospitalized and was in the ICU. For his family’s privacy, I won’t go into details but suffice to say my heart dropped knowing that my uncle wasn’t in the best of health.
My uncle is unique. Where old men are made out of stern stuff, he was the different one, always ready with a smile and a joke up his sleeve. He was the go-to-guy for fun at family gatherings. Such a nice man, and as far as I can remember, I was always happy to see him.
It wasn’t always that way though, there was a time when I was younger and a little bit scared of this uncle. Not because he was strict or grim as adults are to children. I was scared of him because he was my only uncle who kept a beard, the shaggy kind which made him look slightly eccentric and wild. To top it off he had a loud, booming voice which was always followed by a laugh. I was too young to understand the jokes adults made, so I would stay away and play with the other children until my uncle would call me to him and I’d be forced to say hello.
In time, this shaggy, bearded uncle of mine won my trust and heart. Beneath all that hair and loud voice, lay a genuine infectious smile, one that melted my fears away. He took the time to talk to me and listened to my stories whilst I would do the same to his. I always thought how lucky my cousins were to have a dad like him (my father is great too – which must run in their family).
My uncle’s hospitalization reminded me of an event last year when my father was admitted for pneumonia at 80 years old. It was the first time in his life to be in the hospital. So for all of us, it came as a shock and was very unexpected. Again, the news came via my whatsapp and a call from my sister made me catch the next flight back home to Kuala Lumpur from Japan.
Seeing my dad laying sick in bed so weak was an image that made me realize the reality of life – that we will all age and won’t last forever. When the tables are turned and you have to look after your parent, it’s an initiation into adulthood and a wake-up call to appreciate every moment you have with your loved one. Just getting a reaction, a twitch from his finger during his sleep made me sit up and pay attention whilst when he was healthier, I’d be guilty of sometimes being too busy to even notice he was back at home.
Fortunately for us, we were given another chance with my father. The Almighty had answered our prayers and he recovered within a few weeks. Now he is back to his normal routine, playing golf and surfing the Internet for his daily news.
I hope the same will happen for my cousins. I pray that God will grant my uncle a successful recovery and a chance to overcome this. I wish that the smiling man will continue to smile and my prayers are with him and his family during this tough time.
There won’t be a life tip today, but I would like to ask the readers of this article, if they can spare a thought to send some positive energy or say a prayer for my uncle. A stranger he may be to you, but one day it could be your uncle or father too that may need prayers and I hope that at that time your small act of kindness will be reciprocated by a perfect stranger.
Update: My uncle passed away peacefully on the 6th of June, at 4.30pm, a few days after I wrote this post. We will miss him and in the words of my cousin, “May he keep smiling til’ eternity”.