Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Brother Dearest.

This morning was just another morning.
I woke up; did the usual same stuff that I do every morning.
I then went to lie on my bed and thoughts just came around.
I was thinking of the funeral my daughter and I attended yesterday.
I was thinking and I was thinking so many things in such a short few minutes
I finally thought of my eldest brother whom I had not seen for about two months.
I was thinking how he is and told myself that I will have to see him soon.

The phone rang and it was my brother.
I cannot say whether it was purely by chance or maybe the good angels carried my thoughts to him. I was happy and that is it.
We spoke for barely 2 minutes and I could sense that he is very unhappy.
I asked him if he would want to see me.
He immediately said …yes please.
I suspected this was not going to be the usual kind of meetings that we both normally have (going to coffee shops, talking, smoking over cups of coffee and telling each other to quit smoking) and frequently do. We always end up telling each other no need to quit….smoking.
Our late parents are probably rolling about in their graves; if only they see what their eldest son and youngest daughter are doing...Hehehhehe!
I invited him over to our home and told him that I would cook him lunch.
Hubby was very nice to go pick him up.

When he arrived, I could just sense he was not well and not happy at all.
There were so many unspoken words and hidden emotions in him, with no one to share or someone to listen to him.
I decided he will talk and I will listen.
A way for him to release all that he is holding inside him…alone.

He started telling me so many things. He began by rolling back the years to our childhood. Cherished years and bittersweet memories; and lamenting how time had drifted almost unnoticed. He was glad that the little girl that he was once so protective over had now become a good friend and confidant. As usual, tears flowed when invariably; the subject of Eddie came up. Brother Eddie whose tragic life ended so tragically.

Then it came to the part when he told me that he was attending bible class.
His pastor had told him that he had a very nice bible and I could feel his sense of pride in his eyes. Of course, he just had to tell the pastor that it was a gift from me. That must be a very proud moment for him and I could almost visualize him like a little boy beaming with a teacher’s praise.

I recalled the day not too long ago, my brother came to me and told me that he wanted to accept Christ. Somehow, I was not totally surprised.
I encouraged him; I understood him! The dutiful sister in me advised him to attend bible study classes and to understand as much as possible the path he had chosen. He gave me the honor of getting him his first ever bible.

We continued chatting and suddenly he became very quiet. Seemingly absorbed in thoughts that I was not part of. I could see it in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong. I was to realize later that it had come to the difficult part of this unexpected meeting. It was both awkward for him and surreal to me. He began telling me things that he never discussed with me before.

The years have taught me to recognize when he is serious; there was no diverting the conversation. As he went on, trying to hold back emotions was equally as difficult for him as was for me.

He has been unwell for some time now and years of epileptic fits have taken its toll on his mind and body. There are days when he is disoriented. He wanted to talk to me today because he felt mentally capable enough to be coherent with his thoughts and words. He had something important to him that he needed my views about. What struck me was that he had this urgency about him to tell someone about what was bothering him. He had been reviewing the rites of passage in his life and senses the final rite is not too far away; he is bothered about conveying his final wishes.

I could see he was struggling for words and it became apparent what he was trying to say but wanted me to ask specific questions so that it was easier for him.

Here is a man at a stage in his life where he cannot see much further than the day-by-day existence that is becoming increasingly more difficult to bear. Here is a man who is looking back at his life knowing full well how he arrived today. Here is a man who wants to be heard but realizes the barriers he put up have shut out those closest to his heart. Here is a man who has realizes he does not want to leave this life without trying to correct obvious regrets. Here is a man who wants to leave his children some wisdom amidst the seemingly unordinary upbringing he has given them.

The saddest part is that this is about a man who does not know how to say to his own wife and children what his last wishes are. Not that he is more comfortable telling me but this urgency in him has brought him to his wits end. It is about the communication breakdown and subsequent irreversible relationship breakdown between a husband and a wife. It is about the father who cannot sit his children down and tell them what he wants to say and not what he wants them to hear.

I felt very sorry for him but then again, I knew in my heart of hearts, for him it would come to this one day. I guess he realized that his children would never make the first move, nor would they expect their father to change so drastically for there to be openhearted relationships. He yearns for the openhearted relationships.

I suggested that he needed to communicate with his children and what better way to start than to talk to them rather than talk at them. He had to take the initiative and I assured him their response might surprise him. The sincerity will show through and he had nothing to fear. He then asked me to do him a favor; arrange a meeting of his three sons with him. I agreed and he seemed a bit relieved

What I have learned about my brother today is that he finally accepted that in life, death follows. I just had to tell him that there is nothing wrong with that; I shared my own experience of talking to my family regarding my last wishes. Yes, I told him I did that.

Gone are the days when people, especially the Chinese think it is taboo to mention things like this. Now if he felt that he too would want to do it; do it! In fact, it would be a good thing for him and a good start to get his children back into his lonely world. It would set them free. It is only too late if he did not begin the healing at all.

*** The bitterest tears are tears shed upon graves with words left unsaid and deeds left undone***

After my daughter drove him home, I was left feeling very sad and sorry for my beloved brother. Flashes of his life ran through my mind; of how he has ended up being so lonely, when he should be enjoying their golden years. With six grown up children from two marriages and five grandchildren, he should be a very blessed man. I guess during his younger days, he focused on his work and might have misplaced priorities. Life on the edge had its fair share of thrills and indiscretions. Successful as a young man, he made some mistakes that his own family could not forgive. Cause and effect, and the vicious cycle! The wheel turns.

Then came that fateful day when an accident gave him no choice but to stop working; something he never expected. A bad car crash left him suffering from epilepsy for more than twenty years now. He is not getting any better but only suffering more each day.
I can only guess that his family has gotten used to his attacks and numb to his suffering; they probably think he is now a burden. At least he thinks he is so.

Many times when I sit down with him in our usual chats, I just know Love does not flow freely in his family. They probably find it impossible to express love openly as my brother likely feels that to do so, even to his own children would be a sure sign of weakness. How would they then know or learn how to express their love to him? However, I know that he loves them dearly.

My brother cannot be totally to blame for the dilemma he faces. Wives do play an important role in teaching their children how to love. But that is another story.

We shared the same set of parents and were taught the same values. Maybe sons and daughters are not supposed to perceive things the same way. Search me, for I have no answer to this.

Brother Dearest, I believe that the meaning of life is to love as many people and show them how love can lift them and allow them freedoms that can enhance their lives. Teach love to the ones you love.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jeannie,

Two things:

Firstly, I am so very happy to know that you have finally passed that terrible and dark phase of your life!! I could not be happier and more relieved for you. I feel sure that you have "come back" as a far stronger, more compassionate and spiritual being! There is an old Chinese saying that "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" and I truly believe in the Buddha's wisdom that Nothing is Permanent. When you are in the midst of all that suffering, I suppose it is almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel but if anyone can do it, I knew that you would be definitely one who could!

I tried to write this in your blog but being the amateur that I am, i wrote and then entered, but ah... nothing happened leh!

Secondly, the story of your brother is so touching and rings so true! Why do you think I am so thankful that my karma was such that it brought me, Thong and the kids now to Australia where our lives have slowed down so much and there is a lot more connection and communication between us? I was thankful too when Thong got the job in Thailand which forced me to quit MAA and I will always remember what Keat said to me then - "glad that you can now see that the sun and moon does not rise and fall around Melewar!"

I certainly hope that your brother will be able to bridge the gap bit by bit. You know, so many people in this world fail to realise that they actually will die at some point in time?! Isn't it funny? The most profound truth in this world and yet the one most avoided. On my father's spiritual tablet in Taiping, you will see written the Buddha's saying that "Life is uncertain, death is certain." If people realise this and learn to let go, do as much good as possible whenever possible, there will be so much less suffering in this world, don't you think so?

Anyway, keep your thoughts and writing coming! I look forward to it always!

Again, hope this horrible and painful experience has helped you to appreciate and live in this life with more courage, light and compassion!

Love always,

Your friend,


Dalai Baru ( CK ) said...

Many many years ago, when my son was about 4 - 5 years old, he used to sing this song to me :

"Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream. "

Yes, Life is but a dream, mixture of bitter sweet dreams.

Now, my son has grown up, he find it embarassing to sing me songs anymore.
Occasionally, he buy music CD for me !

When I am alone, I will take out the CD and listen, but my mind always drifted to all those children's melodies my son used to sing me....

Life is indeed a dream.... Slowly, the children and our loved one will slowly drifted away down the stream like a boat.... away from us to be on their own. That is life.

And I do hope, when they decided to drift away, they are allowed to drift away merrily....

And, our purpose will be done. Praise the almighty.

God bless all of you....

Anonymous said...

Hi Jade...I finally write something here!^-^

As I told you, I read your writings but never put any comment. I just don't know how to start.

Your ability to express your feeling is tremendously amazing!

I love to read your writing about your brother is so touching and you remind me to contact my big brother too.

Other thing, backcoffee, I like to read the comment you put here.

Thank you for sharing, Jade. Your writing reminds us about love and how to be grateful for what we have and appreciate life.

Although we never chat much like old times, I want to let you know am glad to know you and I still keep the CD you gave me when you came to HK called YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND.

Wish you all the best, Jade.


Soul_Voice said...

My Darling Liz,
How you have made my day.
I do miss all of you very much too.
Someday I shall return but until then, we are only one phone call away from each other, remember that.
Yes, go ahead love those that you love and love them without a condition.
Never too late to start, only too late if you don't.
Will tell my friend he now has got a new fan.LOL
Take good care of yourself,
Love always,