Sunday July 8, 2012
By YOON LAI WAN
A surprise celebration puts an ageing parent back on his feet once again.
THE waiting room was filled with anxious family members as my dad, then 63, was wheeled into the operation theatre for his second open-heart surgery.
I knew he was in good hands Ė the best surgeons and surgical team in the country were performing the operation, but I was a nervous wreck. Clasping my hands together, I did something I hadnít done for a long time: I prayed hard for a miracle as I did not want that to be my last glimpse of dad alive.
Yoon Weng Sum is the strong, silent type who always puts others before himself. He treasures life and spreads happiness around in his own unique way. There were so many things I had wanted to tell him, but somehow I held back. As I waited, I wondered why most people wait till the last moment to express their love for someone, and cry when it is too late.
As the clock ticked on in the hospital, I recalled the stories dad had shared about his life during the Japanese Occupation.
He was barely 10 years old when WWII broke out and he remembered seeing planes flying low and hearing bullets whizzing just above his head. After the first barrage of bombings, his whole family decided to move from Ipoh to Sungkai. They boarded lorries, but most of the time, they trekked through the thick jungles of Perak.
As the youngest in the family, dad was given the tasks of carrying the blankets (which were strapped to his back) and foraging for edible herbs in the forest. He practically grew up during the war. He encountered many unpleasant things, but resolved to leave these behind and carry on with life.
After the war, dad was fortunate enough to be able to attend school. He was active in scouting, and then joined the auxiliary police force for three years. It was then, during a campfire, that he met the wonderful girl who later became the mother of his three children.
Was it easy being his (middle) child? I was the most eccentric of the brood. My older brother has super-intelligent brains, while my younger sister is the baby of the family. Where does that leave me? Playing in the big monsoon drains and climbing the coconut trees!
Yes, that was where dad found me when he came home early from work one day. I was five then, but quite a handful.
It was his and mumís sheer patience and love, and the rotan, that eventually subdued me.
As a medical laboratory technologist, dad used to take us children to the lab when he was on call during the weekends. He introduced the microscope to us, thus opening up a whole new world for us. Years later, I, too, joined his profession.
Was it easy being known as Mr Yoonís (or the senior manís) daughter while I was training at the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur? No way!
The seniors come after you during orientation week, but I enjoyed myself during that period. Yes, I could feel eyes watching me wherever I went and I couldnít play truant like my fellow course mates. And the lecturers expected me to score and not sneak out to Chow Kit market during break time.
Buzzz ... The lights came on and I was jolted back to reality. The operation had been a success and dad was being pushed out to the recovery room. We were not allowed near him, but I was thankful that he had been saved.
As the years passed, dad got more involved in community work. He was physically autonomous and helped in charities, gave talks to the public, and even signed up as an organ donor. We became closer and shared our thoughts about the beauty of life.
But a year ago, at 78, his life took another tumble. He became weak and there wasnít much for him to look forward to ... until I won a Cadbury Share The Happiness dedication contest. Working together with the organisers, we threw a surprise birthday party for dad, whoíd never had a big birthday bash before. One could see his tears of happiness that day.
Dadís star began to shine again. His health improved after the meaningful event and he is now back on his feet, leading his team of senior citizens, giving talks, surfing the Net and busy capturing pictures for posterity. It looks like sharing happiness is like lighting a candle in the darkest night!
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