My father did not received much education and worked as a lorry driver in his youth. He was a very hardworking man and worked every single day of the year, except for Chinese New Year. As he was the sole breadwinner, he was also very careful with his money but always ensure that my siblings and myself received good education. There were frequent quarrels with my mom over money issues but he always ensure that my mom has enough to spend for the household. In the eighties and early nineties, Singapore construction was booming with many projects in the pipeline. Dad's small lorry business began to do well and we were not doing too bad either. There were frequent family outings and durian treats at home. In those days, under the old scheme, COE was even higher than today, but my dad managed to buy a second hand Toyota family car. Things were looking pretty well for us.
Disaster struck in 1993 when my father collapsed at work in his lorry. I recalled one afternoon, Dad's colleagues carried him back home. He was semi-conscious and could not move his left side of the body. My family were wondering what happened Dad as he had never came back home to rest in the afternoon. In the early nineties, awareness of stroke was also very low and my siblings and mysef were too young to comprehend the implication of the incident. Eventually, we decided to send Dad to hospital the next day. He was diagnosed with stroke at the hospital.
Everything went downhill after my dad suffered from stroke. Dad could not drive a lorry because of his condition and so my family lost a valuable source of income. Dad also did not purchase any life insurance back then, so we had no insurance payouts to fall back on. To top it off, my elder brother, myself and my sister were still schooling in secondary school. Money was really tight and we had to depend on Dad's small lorry business for survival. Those were really lost years as my family struggled financially and also hoped that Dad would recover from his illness fast.
Dad never recovered from his stroke. In the next two decades, we struggled to cope as his condition worsen. In 2007, he was diagnosed with multi-system atrophy, a condition which caused him to lose the ability to speak, swallow, urinate, walk and sit. We realized that its a illness that is much worse than stroke. Over the last 5 years, it was really heart wrenching to see how my father transformed from a big strong man to being wheel-chair bound and then bedridden. The journey was very emotionally distressed. Because at one end, my father lost his quality of life and personal dignity, at the other end, it pained us to see him suffering in this way.
Although we knew the outcome of his condition, it really hit me hard when my father passed away. I was not by side when he passsed on because I was on overseas duty travel. This was one of my greatest regrets. I did not get to bade him farewell when he left. If I could, I would have told him how much I loved him.
I think I would miss my father very much.