Reprint of Carers Connection - May 2006Article

One of my colleagues interviewed me for an article that was pubished in “Carers Connection”, a Care Corner Caregivers’ Publication in May 2006.

In Loving Memory of Grandma, I thought I should “re-print” it here.


My grandma was diagnosed with Dementia in May 1998. Though that was when we received the formal diagnosis, the bits and pieces that we were loosing started even before that. While it has been painful to see her deteriorate bit by bit, I think that the opportunities and the propensity for personal growth that her illness has brought is something else altogether.

Today she is severely demented, she can no longer perform any of her Activities of Daily Living, she is tube-fed and bed bound. But her essence and being, continues to be a matchless life source for me.  

Interviewer: How do you help contribute in your grandma's caregiving?

Frances: My role has shifted greatly throughout the course of my grandma illness. While it was a degree of emotional companionship at the initial stages, at the present time I see myself more of a "manager" of her care. I help with organising and planning her schedule, such as what time she should be fed, changed, turned etc. I also serve as a resource person for the maids, ensuring that they are equipped to care for her adequately.

Interviewer: What are some of the challenges you face in caring for your grandma?

Frances: The biggest challenge is perhaps the emotional one. The slow process of letting go and saying goodbye to the Grandma that I once knew, but yet being there and meeting the needs of the Grandma that she is today.

Interviewer: How has the journey of being a care-giver change you as a person?

Maybe not so much "changed me as a person" but it has allowed me to experience a side of myself that I didn't know existed. It has allowed me to rise above my own limitations, stretch my limits and grow. In most facets of my life, I am non-chalant and disorganised, but for Grandma, I am super meticulous and "ngeow". So I know that if I really want to, I could. I guess that's what Love is right ?   

Interviewer: What are some words of encouragement you would like to share with other care-givers?

Care-giving is a privilege, it is a rare honour, not everybody gets a chance at it, so treasure it! At times, you may feel alone, but you chances are you aren't, in the absence of physical bodies tolling the ground with you, remember the spirit man of the one you care for today. Remember the times of yesteryears ... may memories of the good times you’ve shared help you toll on …


Driving for Mama ?

Sometime late last year, amidst yet another of Grandma more “unstable” phases, it suddenly dawned on me that Dad’s car sits in our driveway, un-used, untouched etc. day in, day out, from dusk to dawn. And thus the “if only I could drive” fantasy, was formed.

My dea was that I would be able to come back from work / gym, get the car, drive to Tampines, spend time with my Grandma, suction her, check her skin, feed her, help change her diapers etc. and come home, in a fraction of the time that it would usually take me by bus / mrt and foot. In some ways, the tiredness was getting to me. And thus my resolution for 2008 was to learn how to drive. Alas with Grandma’s death, there was no longer this need.

Yet, a sudden decision to drop off my cousin Shaun’s faulty “Sansa MP3” player at the service centre on Friday, saw me passing the “Comfort Driving School”. I am not too sure what it was, but I was “drawn” into the school.

And before you know it, I walk out, with tears in my eyes and a package that says I’m a student of “Comfort Driving School”. Basic Theory Test on 24 April 2008.

Thank You Mama !

My grandma went home to be with the Lord on 25 Feb 2008.

This is what I shared at her funeral.


Thank You Mama


10.07.1923 – 25.02.2008


In thinking of words that could be used to describe my Mama, it was hard not to feel the depth of the impact she has made on my life. She was truly my rock, my strength and my “rescuer”. Amongst my earliest memories of Mama are those of us sitting on the stone bench waiting for the school bus. There we spent so many afternoons, just being each others presence. It was from there and from her that I learnt the meaning of quality time.


Growing up, one of my simplest pleasures was just being with Mama, be it at home or otherwise. At home, just sitting around, watching her potter around the house, boiling water, attending to the clothes. Outside home, going to the market with her was a treat. I knew that I would be indulged, be it with cha kway teow, mee pok tar or chai tow kuah. For some reason or other, at that point in time, it was only Mama who knew how I liked my food, whether it be no tau gey, more black sauce or less black sauce, with chilli or no chilli, whether the noodles were to be cut or not.


My parents would say that Mama spoilt me, but I beg to differ. Rather I would say that she provided me with a sense of security – being someone I could always count on. Regardless of rain or shine, thunder or lightning, whenever I forgot to bring book, pocket money or my lunch box or if I was not feeling well, Mama was always just phone call away; a phone call home and Mama would come to my rescue. She provided me with a sense of security & stability – knowing day in day out, she was there, getting me ready for school, sending me off to school and waiting for me to come back.


I remember one such day when I was “goofing” around, jumping here, there and everywhere and accidentally broke my new water bottle. I was hysterical and in tears for fear of getting into trouble with my parents, Mama put her arms around me and promised me that she would get me an identical one that very afternoon so none would be the wiser and true enough when I got back from school, there a brand new identical pink water bottle was waiting for me. Truly in her, I found significance – I was never too troublesome or naughty for her. Even when I went against her stern warnings, and hurt myself, it was she who would clean my scraps and even hide the truth from my parents.


She was definitely a very responsible grandmother  - making sure that our white school shoes were “blancoed”. Her schedule revolved around “catching the sun”, always ensuing that our clothes dry. And when we were living together, nightly without fail, she would come into my room, make sure that I was covered with the blanket and that the switch next to my bed was off. She even exchanged my tattered and torn blanket with her own, so that I could have a better one.


She was selfless, always putting others first. Remembering how sad she was when I was overseas studying, sometimes I wondered why she never asked me not to go. But instead always through tears she would tell me to study hard and make the best of the opportunity that my parents had provided. She was a sentimental person and appreciative of simple gestures. She kept the entire collection of letters that I had written to her while I was overseas.


Mama was one who never liked to trouble others. And it was this sense of self determination in her that made the illness that would eventually consume her even more difficult for her. Some of you would know that it has been a 10 yr battle for Mama against dementia and all its associated losses. But she definitely did not take this lying down. She resisted the wheel chair, resisted diapers, fighting the illness that would take away almost all of her physical being, abit at a time. Truly 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” describes what she has been through – fighting right to the end.


Mama, even as Jesus receives you in his loving arms and tells you Well Done! my good and faithful servant here we are rejoicing with you. Mama your battle gives me strength, it gives me courage. For me, walking this road with you has given me meaning, and there has been joy in this journey. All this journeying with you has brought growth and is an experience that no one can take away. I shall endeavor to have my life embody your spirit of love, care, protection, compassion and courage. 


Mama, thank you for loving me, for always being there for me, for being my constant companion; when we meet again, I want you to look at me and tell me … Well Done Fatty, I am proud of you!


We love you and will miss you very very very much. You have lived a good life, left a legacy and will continue to live in and through us forever and ever!






32 km with God

Ever since I found out that the there's a path that pretty much allows me to bike from my home to East Coast Park without me braving the crazy traffic, East Coast Park has been my "new / old" playground.

The vastness of the sea, the breeze on my face, the of the waves as I peddle my Dad's trusty old bike up and down, down and up ... its so easy to loose myself there, even under the sweltering sun.

And exactly a week and a day ago, I found an added edge to my "adventures" - cycling at night. There's barely anyone there, the waves are heard more distintly, the breeze stronger etc. Wonderful feeling!

Well things at work have been tough. In fact, I was so upset by my last conversation with ED (Empress Dowager) that I had trouble concentrating in class today even though it was my all time favorite supervisor, R who was taking the class,

My spirit was just so far away, so much unrest, just so disturbed. And so for a good part of the session, I was pounding away on my Treo 650, relating the unpleasant conversation to all and sundry over MSN while currsing and swearing under my breath and on the keypad.

No doubt, there are times during this same course when I am equally if not more or similarly distracted, but that's usually cos I "catch no ball", give up on what's going on in class and move off to another zone to "entertain myself - usually the Veri Chat / MSN zone. Lol!

But today there was no reason for me to say I "catch no ball", as R had been my sup for an earlier dip that I had taken, so I am quite familiar with her style.In fact, I was very much looking forward to today's session, cos I feel that she's one who makes every cent of my fees worth it. But lo and behold, the flesh that was willing, but the spirit that was weak. And so I left class quite disappointed with myself for not being able to "learn" when I had the best in front of me.

So not only was the unrest within me still there, I had something else to be upset with mysef about ... even more disconcerting of I can say so.

And this is what I do .............

I took the bike out to east coast and peddled my heaviness away. 32.73 km ...that's the most I've covered at one go.

But that's not the point ... its the just me and God amidst nature (albeit man made) feeling that really mattered.

For as I cycled, I talked to God. ............

SCSM 2007 - 10 KM

This is my bib number of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2007.

Don't be deceived. - I am only doing 10 km la.

Thus far, I've only done this distance once - last year. Without training, I pretty much walked most of the way.

Signing up for the event last year ...I told myself that year in year out, Dr Ben and the others @ CSMC have been encouraging me to sign up. so I should do it at least once in my lifetime. If not for anything else, as an extension of my own personal pursuit of wellness through regular exercise. 

But having done it once, I am not sure what made me sign up again this year, especially since I loathe running.

Initially I told myself, I'd try to better last year's lousy time - rather ambitious as I haven't been training. (btw, have I said I hate running?)

But from the looks of things, betterment of timing isn't going to happen this year as I'll be on my feet for 3 whole days prior to run (Sun, 2 Dec).

How sillly can I get ... "volunteering" for the Race Entry Pack Collection for Overseas Runners for the whole of Thurs, Fri and Sat and then running.first thing in the morning on Sun. 

I'm nutz. I'll probably have swollen feet and not be able to feel anything by the time Saturday night comes by.

So given the circumstances, I'd say being at the start line on Sunday would in and of itself be an achievement and anything else a bonus.


Where's your school bag?

Originally uploaded by flee75
This is Hannah. She's 3 and she's probably MOE's youngest "inspector", albeit a self-appointed one.

It was during the secondary school exam period. She saw a boy in school uniform (white shirt and long pants), and demanded to know, "Where your school bag?"

Before even giving him a chance to reply. She pointed her finger accusingly at him and said "You no go to school? You noti boy? I tell you teacher come and beat you!!!!"

01st or 31st

The organisation I work for was recently "bequeathed" with a few hundreds or maybe even a thousand or two cartons of these biscuits. One carton has 24 pkts.

The catch is that it expires in ....

With October drawing near, we've been feeding our beneficiaries and associates with these biscuits, as if there is no tomorrow. So you imagine my bewilderment when I see Giant Hypermart selling this very same thing for ....

Hence my deduction that for Giant to be selling it at such a price, Oct 2007 is not likely to be 01 October.

Anybody want some?