Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chapter Seven - His Last Words



"One Two, Three, Four." He continued several times, before saying: "One happy family. I am happy."

CAME FRIDAY EVENING, he was already gasping for breath. I received a call from my Auntie Yin on the handphone as I was approaching the hospital. I had gone home to take my shower. By the time I rushed to the ward, his condition had already turned bad. He was literally gasping for breath and fighting for his life. Mother, my younger sister Su Li, Uncle Billy and his wife, Auntie Yin were all at the ward.

By 8.00pm, Uncle Billy noticed that his condition was becoming worse. I immediately tried to contact my elder sister Su Lin and her husband, Victor and another sister, Susie, who were still at my cousin's wedding. For nearly 20 minutes we tried calling their handphones. None of them could be reached!

Frustrated, I finally contacted Concorde Hotel, where the dinner was held and left a message for the sisters to rush over to the hospital. They arrived some half-an-hour later. Susie, Su Lin, Victor, Li Lian, Mother, Uncle Billy and Auntie Yin, and I were by his bedside to comfort him.

As he sat up, Father started counting, "One, Two, Three, Four" and repeating himself over and over again. "One Two, Three, Four." He continued several times, before saying: "One happy family. I am happy."

It became clear to me that Father was bringing healing to the family in his final one night before he passed away. The night before, he had said something that really hurt my mother. He counted up to four, basically to reassure the family that there were four of us, his children by his side. One happy family, that is, and that he was happy. He even assured Mother that he loved her.

Each of us spoke to him one at a time. Victor told him that he would look after the family. He did not need to worry anything. Su Lin promised that she would also look after the family. Then, she called for Susie and Su Li by name. Susie re-assured him that she would be getting married the following year. Su Li also re-assured him that she was big enough to look after herself.

Father then called for Li Lian, who was by now, shedding tears. "I promise to study hard," she told her Grandfather. Li Lian was the apple of his eye. Being the eldest granddaughter, Li Lian was being taken care of when she was younger by my father. The other two twin nieces, Li Von and Li Sa were too young to be allowed in the ward of a dying man.

My name was the last to be called. I told him: "Father, you do not need to worry. I will get married soon, when the time comes. Remember, you will have one more grand daughter and one grandson. You must wait for me in Heaven." He had earlier asked why I wasn't planning to settle down yet. In my heart, I knew he was eagerly waiting for his own grandson, to carry his family name. I had earlier told him that God had promised me a daughter and a son.

Then, he called out for Mother. "Mummy," he said, extending his hand over to my mother who was standing a little distance away. I put both their hands together. For one reason or another, he started saying: "I.......LOVE ........" He paused for quite a long time. Uncle Billy, who was on the other side of the bed asked him: "What do you want to say, say-lah!"

"Her," was his final word, before he took a deeper breath.

For the first time in their 43 years of marriage, Father reassured Mother: "I love you."

He was unable to say it directly to her, knowing that she was the kind who would immediately dismiss any such suggestion of love. Being Asian, Father could only say to a third party, "I love her." Nevertheless, those few words were enough to bring healing to the family.

Father started counting again. "One, Two, Three, Four." He repeated his count before saying: "You....... all......must...... love.......Jesus." He went silent right after that. I could hardly believe my ears when I heard it. Father was making a full confession of his faith for the first time to his family members. He had left behind a legacy that would live on forever.


He already knew the power of God's love when Jesus went to the Cross to die for his sins. He now wanted his children and family members to love Jesus. It was a decision that Father made about Christ some two weeks earlier that I was very sure it was his own decision.

Although he had walked through the valley of the shadow of death, he knew the Shepherd of Love who carried him in His loving arms. Father had known his Saviour in his last days. The valley of the shadow of death had turned to be his valley of decision as well.

The song that I sang to minister to him one night was most appropriate:

"When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation,
To take me home, my God,

Life is so full of uncertainties. Today, one is alive. Tomorrow, one is gone. Only one thing is certain in life and will remain unchanged -- God. Father found Jesus, the Shepherd of Love, in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

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