My mother died at 69; my father thirteen years later at 89. She died in middle age; he in old age. I’ve just turned 63, and if I have more of my mother in me there are only six  years to go. Sigh! If I’m more of my father’s daughter I have a good two and a half decades – enough years to see the fruition of Vision 2020 and even 1 Malaysia. Wonderful prospects if I can keep my wits about me and my sinews fit!

For nothing is more daunting than ageing with a debilitating disease like the aftermath of a bad stroke or the complications of terminal cancer. We’d all like to leave this world peacefully and without much pain or anguish; without the indignity of losing our physical and bodily abilities or mental and emotional capacities. We all pray that we will be spared the burden of great suffering and discomfort; that we will spare our children the burden of tedious caregiving. But God knows what’s best for each of us!

Lately, I’ve been asking my peers among close friends and family the morbid question of  how they’d like to die if they have a choice! Of course most say they’d like to go in their sleep, of a quick heart attack, of a merciful stroke…and then… oblivion. If only!


Thinking about loved ones who have passed on and what they had to go through to cross into the next world, I can’t help thinking that perhaps we will die as we have lived! We will die the death we deserve just as we live the life we deserve! Thinking about friends and family who are ageing with  a disease or disability, I can’t help thinking there is some truth in this.

But then, how do we really assess the life of a person? How do we know how he or she has lived unless we know their innermost thoughts and dreams, their deepest hopes and fears! We really can’t make a judgement even if we’ve had  the privilege of knowing them intimately. We can only hazard a guess having lived with them a while and knowing them a bit and loving them a tad!

We used to think my father was acting strangely in middle-age for prancing around the house in the wee hours of the morning – peering into dictionaries, flipping through books, scribbling into his diary when all the rest of the household wanted to do was curl up and sleep! We wondered what he was up to! We thought he was weird! Now my family think the same of me!

Now I know! Now I no longer think insomnia is a curse – as I’m sure he didn’t – despite the heavy bags under my eyes!  Now I feel blessed for being given the extra hours in a day to – peer into dictionaries, flip through books, fill up my FB profile and update my blog! After all I did plan for a completely selfish and self-indulgent second career after more than 30 years of teaching and educating the nation’s young! I did plan on writing and painting on … and on…

How like my father I’ve become in my literary interests! How like my mother in my culinary skills! Which still leaves the original questions unanswered…


6 Responses to “”

  1. 1 charlie chan
    September 2, 2009 at 7:43 am

    how to die with grace:

    ..even at the dying last few breadths, if we have God remembrance & utter His sweet name, all should be peaceful.
    however the majority forget this at their time of death….that’s why we do Zikr or mantra repetitions constantly to ensure a safe journey to the other-side and besides the vibration of God’s name reverberating within our whole being is a beautiful spiritual path in itself….at the risk of being labeled mad fakirs of malaysia ( perhaps we are already!)

  2. 2 ninitalk
    September 2, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Yes dear Charlie!

    That’s what we believe and this is what loved ones by the bedside chant and whisper into the ears of the departing so that they repeat it in their hearts as they slip away quietly into the night…

    Yes – we need to constantly embrace goodness and spirituality, continuously be with people who are at peace with themselves, who are at one with God! If this madness, let it be!

  3. September 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Let me hazard a guess. That aww lovely tender photo was taken 11 years ago, or thereabout.
    Looking forward to your debut bare all literary masterpiece that can withstand a test of time.

  4. 4 ninitalk
    September 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    You are too sharp GUiKP! Yes my Dad died in 1996 and the photo was taken a couple of years earlier!

    On the way! On the way!

  5. September 4, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    What is morbid Halimah? It is all part of going through a process – albeit each in his/her own way. It is amazing how the heart and body don’t jive in terms of aging for some of us. My take – it’s all about living fully and savouring. We could all do with a hug.

  6. 6 ninitalk
    September 4, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Disease and death are morbid because of the fear of the unknown. Knowing your body and knowing how to circumvent or delay the physiological ageing with exercise and good nutrition helps. Being in control psychologically definitely makes one feel younger. Lots of love and support definitely! But the grieving that comes with the dying is so sad!

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