Some time ago, I attended the funeral of a friend's mother who died of old age. If I'm not much mistaken she was way past 80 years old when she died.
I felt a little awkward to find myself in a church after many years since the last time I set foot in one. It was a Catholic church, and I noted that things have not changed much since all those years ago. The singing and occasional standing up and sitting down again. Then the sermon from the priest.
And then came the part when my friend took the mike to deliver a speech about his dead mother. I think it was the only part of the service that I actually paid much attention to. And I must say that it was a wonderful speech, worthy of an expert orator. He started with her childhood and upbringing in the village; how she met and then married her husband. The happy and full life she had had; her richness in love from all her children and grandchildren. Truly, it was a touching speech—I did not even realise the minutes that passed.
When the speech was over, we moved into a queue, leading up to the coffin where we could all get a glimpse of the dead woman to pay our last respect. As we left the coffin, we passed a line where all her children and grandchildren were standing—some of them fighting to hold back tears—and gave them words of encouragement and condolences.
Recently, I received news from mom in Vancouver. She said the doctors found a cyst in one of her ovaries, and they wanted to perform a surgery to remove that ovary. But actually, later I found out from my half-sister that, far from a cyst in her ovary, she had a tumour in her uterus. The doctors decided to remove the entire uterus and both ovaries. What seemed like a minor thing at first turned out to be something quite major. The doctors were unsure if the tumour was cancerous, but they put it as a 50-50 chance of cancer. Things were quickly looking grim. And I began making preparations to fly to Vancouver if things turned for the worst.
And then I thought of the worst-case scenario. I'm a realistic person, and prepared for the worst. After all, we will all become old one day, and the time will come for all of us to die. If it has to happen now, I will be sad, of course. I think 67 is still too young to die, and if I had it my way, I would love to see her celebrating at least her 75th birthday.
Then my mind began to wonder, and I experienced a bit of fear of her death. It will be a bit complicated to get all of my siblings over to Vancouver for the funeral. And the speech—yes, the speech! As the eldest son, I would want to be the one giving the speech. And I know I will have quite a bit of good things to say about mom.
And then my mind wondered a little further. Dad hasn't been well this lately too. He has survived 2 heart attacks, of which he had a quadruple bypass for the second one. Today he is still smoking like a chimney and does not control his diet. His blood sugar is constantly above the healthy level; his eyesight is worsening and his legs are frequently swollen. He's a diabetic, you see.
I wondered what it would be like at his funeral when the time comes? I suppose there will still be that speech-giving part, of which I will be the one to deliver. Suddenly, I was horrified when I realised that I don't have anything good to say about the man! He is the most selfish man I have ever known. Maybe it's best that Audrey handles the speech thing, 'cause I'm sure she's better in cooking up lies for the sake of a good funeral speech.
In the mean time, I have received news of a successful surgery from Vancouver. But the storm is not over yet. The doctors are sending the tumour to the cancer lab for further tests. Results should be out in about a week from now. Preliminary observation suggests that it might not be cancer after all. But if it is, then chemo will have to follow soon. So we are keeping our fingers crossed.