Living!

Home Living!

Now Wash Your Dick!

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My aged parents have been living with my sister these last few years.  When my father had a stroke, his ambulatory movement is much restricted.  I do not have a living room in my own house and it will be difficult to ‘haul’ him up and down the 14 steps.

Last year the contract on my sister’s domestic maid expired and she would be going back to her home country soon.  The maid takes care of my father all this while when he is confined to a wheelchair, bathes him, helps him sit up on the commode to do his bowel business, gives him breakfast and puts rice and vegetables on a plate for his lunch and dinner.  I will also nursemaid him as much as I can and I will visit them almost every day.

My sister has already engaged a new maid.  But it will be difficult for the maid to nursemaid my father, when she is new to her job and the maid will have enough on her plate with the various domestic chores and cooking for the household members.  So from then on, I bathe him, watch his daily bowel movement, shave him, dress him up, take him out to have some sunshine and so on.

And my father especially likes it when I bathe him.  He always makes some small complaints that the maid was too rough and she will do it her way.  He never demands that I bathe for him but from his conversations I guess that he loves me to bathe him.

It is actually an easy job to bathe my father.  His mental faculty is still strong though his memory is getting weaker and weaker.  He can tell me the stories of his life during his younger days in China and Nanyang but he can forget what he eats for breakfast or lunch.   Thus, I always engage him and tell him that I am going to write some great novel of China, so he must give me some background history of China and the coming of the communists to his village.  This is maybe one of the ways to ensure that he just does not go off to the deep end of senility.

I usually bathe him in the morning as I have to go to work.  Pushing the commode into the bathroom, I undress him, switch on the water heater and test the temperature of the water.  My father will then quietly enjoy a lovely warm bath.  He is as obedient as any 3 year old child, oh such a pathetic figure with his rubbery and wrinkled skin covering his thin sinewy bones.

First I shower and scrub him on his head which still bears some thinning grayish hair.  Using the Johnson & Johnson liquid soap I rub it all over his chest and back.

“Now wash your face,” I said.

“Orr” he replied timidly, ‘orr’ means yes in Cantonese

“Now scrub your body and arm pit” as I moved the shower spray over his body.

“Orr” he replied.

Then he will ask me to use the shower on his thighs as he says it is very itchy.  He just enjoys the sensation of the warm water jet onto his skin.

So I just sprayed the warm water stream on the body spots he commands.

As I squeeze some liquid soap onto his palm, I said, “Now wash your dick.”

He obediently does it as his hand is still agile and has a firm grip.

“Now wash your ass.”

“Orr”

Then I will use the warm water jet stream all over his body until he has enough.

Inside the bathroom I will apply some lotion cream onto his body and back and put on a fresh set of clothing for him before pushing his commode to his room.

After the morning bath, father is as fresh as morning dew.

Happiness is Big Shit!

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Father is 88 this year

Constipation is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable feeling for a person.  Something toxic is stuck inside and as days go on without its passing out, it gets hardened and bigger and it will be more difficult to excrete on its own.  As it might get absorbed back into the intestinal system, the stomach would bloat causing him uncomfortable tummy pain, frequent flatulence as well as lack of appetite.   Most times an elderly person tries to resist sitting onto the almighty throne to do his business and thought perhaps it will take care of its own.

Bed-ridden people can undergo significant muscle atrophy as a result of decreased activity as the muscles lose its tone and the loss of calcium from his/her bones.   Hence, the daily or least once in two days bowel motion of an elderly person is very important to his or her health, especially one who is confined to bed or a wheelchair and his/her ambulatory movement is severely restricted.

My father has been confined to a wheelchair for almost two and a half years.  We watch his bowel motion quite closely and most times we have to use enema to help him ease himself.  Every morning mother will cut an apple for him and feed him on a diet of high fiber food.

But that is not enough.  Many times I have to administer the enema onto his anus to ease him.  Ah, don’t leave it to the maid.  She would just make him sit on a commode chair and carelessly insert the enema.  The enema would just splash off due to gravity under its own liquid weight and it would only lubricate his anus slightly.

Donning a surgical mask and a rubber hand glove, I would make him lie down sideway on his bed on top of a rubber mat and pumped two enemas in swift succession.  Father would then at once scream excitably that it was coming, coming, coming……. No, he has to lie down for a while and with practice, I could easily get him to sit upright and move him out of the bed and onto the commode chair.

At first the pungent stinking smell and the ugly sight of a few big lumps of excreta may put one off, but after a while I got used to it.  Now I don’t even have the nausea feeling anymore when it is time to nurse-maid him.   At least my father’s hand is still agile and he can wipe his own ass.  I have some yoga training and I can hold my breath for some time, ah, long enough to take out the pot from under the commode chair and flushed the smelly stuff onto the toilet bowl.

One day I was back from overseas and I knew that father had not been doing well on his bowel motion for 3 days.  His face was pale and he was quite agitated.  Mother was getting worried.   On seeing me he was all happy and smiles.  Now, I had to pump him with 3 adult enemas and made him lie down longer on the bed until he ‘screamed’ that he could hold on no more.

Oh gosh, that big lump was almost the size of my fist and it stank to heaven high. Now happiness was the big shit had come off.  I could see the immense relief on his face immediately.

Poor old father.

On the next trip to the hospital for his medical check-up, I told the doctor that his bowel motion was not good and that we had been using enema almost everyday.  The good old doctor, no he was a young doctor, prescribed a laxative Lactul Solution for him to take on alternate days.  Lactul Solution is a mix of galactose and lactose and helps to break up the excreta as well as to lubricate the intestines.  We just have to ensure that he did not develop diarrhea and to use Lactul when necessary.

Since then, father has no more problem with his bowel motion.

Teaching Them Kids To Read

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The kids at Hue, Central Vietnam

When the 3 kids were slowly growing up My Excellency would harangue me often that the kids must learn English from me.  They were all studying in a Chinese based primary school.  And I had a Bachelor degree from a local university and a Masters degree from London to boot. That was when I was still based in my home town while I was working in a foreign bank.

She reprimanded, “You must take responsibility for the education of the children as you have some fancy degrees while I have none. I have never heard you speak to them in English.  All you do is to speak to them in Cantonese and occasionally with a sprinkling of some crude and coarse language, too.”  Cantonese is an excellent language with all its subtle nuances, sarcastic inflexion, flowery adjectives, swearing and cursing verbs and dramatical highlights.  Well, that was my Mother’s Tongue.

Bla bla bla and bla, and so on and so forth.  Maybe I heard it for the first few times. Then subsequently I still had to listen to her as she continued her tirade but I thought that I was not hearing no more. It was just like an old LP broken record which stayed on the same groove while it was still spinning on the required rounds-per-minute on its table.

S.O.S. (distressed signal of Mayday Mayday, Same Old Story or Same Old Sh**)

“Every week you must sit down with them for 3 days in the evening for a 2-hr session. OR ELSE!” She shouted, arms akimbo, eyes glared and legs apart with a kung-fu hard stance.  Oops, there went my peace and my own yoga meditation and inward journey astral traveling to far away places.

As Her Excellency or perhaps Her Royal Highness or maybe the Empress had commanded, so let it be said and let it be done.

I dutifully, as a good old father would do, went to the bookstore and bought some English books suitable for the 3 kids.  School text books were out.  They had enough of that at school and if they were to score 100 marks in English, where I coached them at home with the same text books used at school, that was no B.F.D.

So we had our few good lessons.  And the first thing I thought them was how to write proper sentences. Then repetitiveness and fatigue set in.  Before long, the boys were having the comics on their laps while their text books were on the table and I was part reading my favorite novel, beneath the table too.  The eldest girl was studious so I left her alone, giving her some titles to write about.  The TV set was of course switched off.

My Excellency or the kids Tiger Mom gave up.  She employed an English tutor for the 3 kids and I said onto her. “That should be the way, Excellency.  One can never teach our own kids on school subjects.  They must be taught by outsiders.”  After having made this smart-ass remark, I quickly scooted off before her verbal assault just might shattered my frail ear-drums.

Then came the day when I was head-hunted for an overseas job to head the business of a consortium group in Indo-China (Cambodia, Vietnam & Laos).  So their education was left to My Excellency who in her infinite wisdom and motherly guidance used the reward and punishment system of making them take their studies seriously.  Some said one should speak softly but wield a big stick, oh no, she spoke loudly but she used a small cane which the kids feared at first but after some time they would ignore it.

Anyway, whenever I had the opportunity, I would teach them My Way.  And that was to learn from experience, to go to strange places and to read and read as there was a limit as to what a teacher and parents could taught them.  So I had to inculcate in them a reading habit. But I had a problem here.  MoneyLena, my eldest daughter was no problem child.  She read avidly.  But the 2 boys were only interested in Pokemon cards, comics, computer games and other activities in vogue at their time.  I bought them books like Famous Five, Biggles, Tom Sawyer, Hardy boys but all these books were lined up very orderly in their room while other things were all helter-skelter.  It was just like some Great English Classics, they were excellent in adorning the personal library of a house to give the impression that a man or a woman was well read, but they were just some pieces of nice furniture.  Apart from dusting off motes of fine dust occasionally, they were never read at all.

Perhaps I was wrong to introduce to them the books I loved when I was a kid.  I was an avid reader by the age of 8 and I devoured a few books in a week.  Times had changed but I was still clinging onto the old idea of what was good for me then was good for them.

Then I had a brilliant flash-in-the-pan idea while on one of our family travels abroad.  We were at the Tunnels of Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam when Cal (my second son who was then 12 years of age) caught on the reading habit where I creatively set him on the path of a well read person.

Next post : The Tunnels of Cu Chi.

The World Is Full Of Beauty …充满美丽的世界…

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The World Is Full Of Beauty …充满美丽的世界

Abstract: A few months back, my mother recited a poem to me, extracted from a local Chinese newspaper. And it is about seeing the world while one is still capable of traveling. So for three months I went traveling solo.

摘要 : 几个月前,我的母亲从本地华文报纸上摘录了一首诗. 它是关于一个人如果仍然能够去旅行的时候便要抓住机会出去看看世界. 所以我便抽出三个月时间独自去旅行了.

 Engaging Mother in conversation

Grandfather, Father, Son Dies

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I have heard a Zen anecdote……..

A very wealthy Mandarin in the city of Suzhou was throwing a grand banquet for his patriarch father to celebrate his 91st birthday.  As a way to flaunt his wealth as well as to show his filial duty to his patriarch father, all the scions of the society, rich and powerful landlords and important Imperial officials were invited to the feast.

The Mandarin also invited a Zen monk, a famous calligrapher and who was very much revered for his Buddhist teachings in the city, to give

 

 

 

A Banquet Festivity

blessings to his father and to the continued well being, happiness and wealth for his family.

At the banquet the Mandarin requested the esteemed Monk to pen a calligraphy of prosperity, longevity and happiness to commemorate this great and auspicious occasion.

With the scroll of rich red vermillion rice paper laid out on the beautifully crafted antique rose wood table, the Monk rose to the occasion, his countenance now serene, tranquil and with a single-minded focus to the task on hand.  The whole banquet hall suddenly fell into pin-dropped silence and everyone waited expectantly for the delivery of his great masterpiece as most of them would be the first time witness to the works of this legendary calligrapher.

With elan and flourish the Monk rolled up his right golden saffron sleeve to his elbow, dipped the thick paint brush onto a jade inkpot filled with black scented ink and with elaborate penmanship of a single, bold and powerful stroke the calligraphy came up thus:

“Grandfather, Father, Son Dies”

As the Mandarin looked on aghast, the Monk ordered a serf to hold up the scroll, turn and pan it slowly round to the audience. The audience of the whole banquet hall grasped in horror. How could a reverend Monk do such an incongruous and demeaning act to the gracious host on such a happy and joyful occasion as the celebration of the great patriarch birthday?

 

 

 

 

 

Death

 

This was insulting and might bring calamity and misfortune to the family for the whole year round.

However, the Mandarin being a well learned and wise man realized the palpable tension and the volatile atmosphere might turn unpleasant if he reprimanded the Monk.  The Mandarin would lose face and appear as uncouth in front of all the societies honored guests and his subjects.

He smiled and politely requested the Monk to interpret his calligraphy.

The Monk said, ”For us to enjoy peace, harmony and happiness the events of birth and death in a family should happen according to nature’s sequence order of natural death.  This way the older generation would not moan over the death of a younger generation.  Would it not be bliss then?”

The audience broke into a thunderous applause.

 

I have on a number of occasions attended funeral wakes where grieving parents sent off their sons or daughters who died suddenly in car accidents, of ill health and freak accidents or simply been caught in the wrong time and wrong place.

Their initial reaction when faced with the sudden departure of their loved ones is one of shock and disbelief, yesterday the son was alive and well and today he laid stiff in a casket coffin laced with lavender and white lilies. Lying serenely in the tight confines of the wooden elongated octagonal box with a rectangle glass opening, his cadaverous face still smiled impishly, the eyes closed in a perpetual state of eternal rest and the body covered in soft white satin.  Kith and kin, relatives and friends from near and far came to say their last goodbye and tears flowed in their eyes as well as in their hearts.  Such heart wrenching scenes will leave one numbed and one would realize that a life can be as fragile as a gossamer’s thread, suddenly broken and never to be joined again.

The grieving parties will not have the space and time to grieve during the wake as they have to attend the rituals of the religious ceremony of sending off the dead.  When the funeral wake is over, when their friends go home, when all one carried back from the funeral home is the photograph frame (and a few days later the urn containing 6 or more pound of ashes, if the deceased is cremated) and when one is at home then the full import of the loss suddenly dawns on them. It is really painful when one has the luxury of time to grieve.

At first it is self-denial, refusing to accept the situation that the loved one has left us. Then one will take numerous guilt trips, blaming oneself for the sudden death, imagining and creating a number of ‘ifs’ situation where the deceased would not be in such a place when he met his death and the whole nightmare will not happen. After a long while, time still heals but it will never be the same again.  Most parents never recover from the death of their children.

My cousin passed away a couple of years ago when he was 49.  His mother, my father’s sister, was 87 then.  At that time she was still sane.  At the funeral wake she refused to acknowledge the death of her beloved son.  She sat outside with friends and talked normally but refused to go inside to view the coffin.  Her mind actually has snapped and she was in a state of denial.  It was so pitifully to see an old lady in such great pain.  One year later she died of grief.

My parents also have sent off my eldest brother in China and a sister too, but they were infants then and the wounds healed faster.

So in my daily prayers, I pray that my parents do not outlive me and I do not outlive my children.


Thinking Kills Brain Cells

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Cal in Hong Kong when he was 13.

I was in my study room one night when Cal, my second son, came in and wanted to have a word with me.  He was crestfallen and I thought perhaps he had a bad day at school.

“What’s wrong, boy?” I asked gently.

“My biology teacher screwed me blue today.” He remarked.  Gosh, that was not original and he must have picked up this phase from me.  If Tiger Mom heard this she would really screw me blue, literally.

“What happened?” I asked.

“We have our biology class today.  The teacher was teaching us the brain functions, the neurons, the right and left hemispheres and all the boring stuff.  She mentioned that unlike other body cells the brain cells once damaged could not be re-generated.”

“And then” I cajoled him to continue.

“I said loudly that the process of thinking kills brain cells.”  Now, this was too much.  I chuckled and sighed inwardly.  This rascal was picking up all my car-bumper sticker wisdom too quickly.

He continued, “She was very angry and scolded me harshly.  She went into a long lecture of how thinking was food to the brain to prevent one from getting some Azhimer disease or something like that, I don’t know what is it.”

“Did she give you a whacking?” I was a bit concerned by now.  And I reminded myself to be careful in future of minding my language in front of them kids.

“No, Pop.  She ordered me to stand on the chair for the whole period.” He said dejectedly.

“In front of all the boys and girls, now that was indeed shameful, boy!” I raised my tone a pitch notch.

“That was just some sarcastic remark we used to down talk a subordinate when we wanted them to work and don’t start thinking.  You better learn to differentiate the occasion of using certain English phases.”  I was almost at a loss of words as I explained to him.

Then all of a sudden, his face brightened up, grinned, balled up both his fists and punched his arms into the air, like some great football star scoring a victory goal at the last minute.

“Yeah, Dad! I became an instant celebrity among my classmates.  When that old hag left, the class gave me a standing ovation and cheered and clapped their hands.  And the whole class was chaotic with laughter.”  His sudden change of demeanor took me by surprise.  Then he came forward and hugged me.

“That was great, Dad.  I finally managed to grand-stand on her.  The whole class hated her for all the stupid home work she gave us.” He laughed aloud. Now he seemed so animated unlike moments ago.

“Goodnite Dad,” He made a step backward and raised his palms in a gesture of surrender.  As he walked out of my room, I could still recall his mischievous face and his silly grin after all these years.

I was thinking then, did he say grand-stand?  Where did a 13 year old boy managed all these vocabulary? A keen ear and a loose tongue must have been a powerful combination in educating a child. Perhaps one day the pupil would surpass the Master, if not the Master would have failed.

Bad, bad Rabbit Dad.

But it’s too late to mind my language now as the kids have all grown up.  Anyway, the 2 boys are as refined as any gentlemen you will find as we sent them off to the Big Apple NYC to be educated when they were 17 going onto 18.

Next Post: 7. It All Began At The Tunnels of Cu Chi, Saigon.

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