Thursday, 4 February 2010
"Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident - It is as common as life."
~Henry David Thoreau
My aunt went into a coma last Thursday night and passed away the day after, on Friday evening.
In retrospect, death was probably a release for her. Her quality of life has deteriorated since she had a stroke 7 years ago. She developed diabetes and other health complications after that.
In the disorder that followed her demise, and due to a combination of biological, pseudo-religious and astrological factors, I was advised by my parents not to accompany them for the funeral in Penang, but to hold fort at home to look after our canine children.
My aunt's family and mine have never been close. Although my father and my aunt were siblings, we lived worlds apart. My aunt never took a genuine interest in our lives, but I remember her as being unfailingly warm and jolly whenever we visited. She was a good cook and was not particularly watchful of her diet. She loved children, and was lenient with her own to a fault. My cousins left school young and got married early in life. They held many of the beliefs and mental attitudes of those from the Chinese heartland and our values must have appeared rather quaint and incredible to them. My aunt was lucky to be blessed with a great many grandchildren when she was alive, and her children lived close by, so she was never lonely. She was only 64 when she died.
A relationship doesn't end with death. She will always be my aunt, and Covert Dad's sister. Love is stronger than death, and our memories of my aunt will always be filled with love and will survive her death.
It was a quiet weekend for me spring-cleaning the parental home on my own with Amber and Chocky for company.
Amber and Chocky being loving to each other.
I had contemplated participating in a post-Thaipusam clean-up campaign at the Batu Caves temple complex with my friends from the Facebook group I joined, Sampah Masyarakat (literal translation: Community Rubbish), but there were too many things to do at the parental home and I only left for the SPCA at midmorning on Sunday.
Tail-end of the Jumble Sale: Our Charity Shop in a mess.
The SPCA had a Jumble Sale in the morning and the booths were manned by volunteers from nearby schools. We managed to raise a small sum of money from the sale. Some of the unsold items were returned to the Charity Shop, as shown above, but most of it (clothes, toys and household goods) was loaded onto our animal pick-up truck and delivered to the migrant worker and refugee communities by Samy, our driver.
Jack-Jack leaves for his new home today.
One of the best things about the SPCA Jumble Sale is that a well-publicised event always attracts animal lovers, i.e. potential volunteers and adopters. We always get a spike in adoptions after every Jumble Sale. Jack-Jack here was adopted by a loving family who has previously adopted from the SPCA as well.
A bouquet of flowers, though short-lived, is always appreciated.
It was our shelter worker Kak Mazni's birthday, and we decided to honour her with a small private celebration in the shelter office. Reve got her a cake, I got her chocolates and Reve and Shahrul got her a bunch of flowers. I'm not entirely sure why, but Kak Mazni was quite weepy throughout the cake-cutting ceremony.
All comfy again, and in familiar territory.
I spent the whole day tidying up after the Jumble Sale and cleaning the animal shelter. The cats were not happy when I turned them out of their baskets to scrub and disinfect their sleeping baskets and litter trays, but once they had fresh, dry bedding, clean litter trays and sanitary and sweet-smelling living quarters again, they were happy to settle down in their baskets and let me pet them.
You can't find a better friend than a dog.
The dogs know that they are not allowed in the kennels when I am cleaning, but this little dog seemed to understand that I was feeling a little blue due to my aunt's bereavement and decided to come in to keep me company. Selective breeding has given us ideal animal companions in cats and dogs, and the bond between human and domesticated animals is strong. Cats and dogs are faithful, companionable, loving, responsive, reliable and able to thrive in human environments.
It was a quiet but productive weekend, and keeping myself busy helped me take my mind off my aunt's demise. It was troubling to try to determine whether or not I miss her. The last time I saw her was in 2004/2005, and perhaps I do feel remorse for not having visited her again since then.
"There are only so many tomorrows", I've been told. There are only so many tomorrows for visiting loved ones, telling friends how much I care for them, extending a helping hand, volunteering my time and energy, and uttering words that I thought could have waited for another time.
Requiscat in Pace, Auntie. Know that you are surrounded by our love, always.