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Today marks exactly one month since Mum passed away in hospital. In her last five days, there was an amazing closure of relationships.

On Saturday morning, 23rd February, she told me, “Call Kamila first.” Auntie Kamila, whom Mum loved dearly, rushed over to hospital with her entire family mid-morning. But Mum could not speak by then. She was in terrible pain and mostly sedated.

That same afternoon, I asked Mum if her youngest sister, whom I call Ah Ee, could see her. She nodded “yes” with much effort.  And it was the same, when I checked with her on Sunday afternoon if her brothers could visit. By Monday, all her siblings had seen her and said their farewells.

However, Mum seemed to be hanging on for some reason. Her oxygen level, which had plunged on Monday morning, had come back up on Tuesday. Her blood pressure and heart rate were going strong for someone in her final days.

On Tuesday night, as I sat next to her, I ran through a mental checklist of closure issues, wondering if I had missed something. I was then reminded of a texted message. A church friend, who had a strong sensing of spiritual things, had texted earlier that day that she was especially keeping my dad in prayer. She also added: “May the Lord prepare your dad to fully release your mum into His [Jesus’] safe hands…”

Was Dad the last person who needed to voice the final farewell?

At 6 am in the morning, Dad returned to Mum’s hospital room. He had slept in the guest area outside whilst I had stayed in the room with Mum.

“I need to talk to you,” I said. We went out to the corridor and I asked if he had given Mum full permission to leave us. As it turned out, he had given her many assurances but nothing so direct. We went back into the room. He assured Mum at length that he would take care of himself. Then, he gave her full release to go in peace to God. Within the next few hours, Mum’s oxygen level, blood pressure and heart rate plunged.

We decided that we also needed to uplift the mood in the room. We had forgotten ourselves the past few days and kept belaboring all the saddest things in front of her. Although Mum was fading in and out most of the time, my very perceptive best friend Gail reminded me (just the day before) that Mum could still hear us and we needed to be mindful of our conversations.

Dad started to reminisce about his early courtship days with Mum. As a young policeman, he pulled 30-hour days in the foulest-smelling places. Mum had bought him a set of Old Spice cologne and toiletries and taught Dad about Personal Grooming 101.

We wondered out loud where we could possibly buy Old Spice these days.

“Maybe Mustafa shopping centre,” someone suggested to laughter amongst the 3-4 of us in the room.

Then, Ah Ee left the room to use the public toilet. She entered the lift and pressed ‘Level 2’, which was the lobby level of Gleneagles Hospital, where Guardian Pharmacy, the eateries and the main public toilets were located. The lift however opened at Level 3, where the lecture theatre is located. Ah Ee saw a public toilet directly in her line of sight and walked out of the lift.

Gleneagles has four lifts in the hospital lobby. If she had entered any other lift, she would not have seen the 3rd floor public toilet as it only faced the lift that she had entered.

When she came out of the toilet, she noticed that there was a pop-up stand selling expensive perfumes and colognes. With Dad’s Old Spice story so fresh in her mind, Ah Ee asked the stall vendor if they sold Old Spice. The vendor rummaged through their un-displayed stock and found one Old Spice bottle.

Ah Ee very eagerly told the vendor not to sell it to anyone and that she needed to go back to Mum’s room to get her money. The vendor told her that they only set up stall in Gleneagles Hospital once a year and this was the only day of this year they were there. She also only had one bottle of Old Spice. There wasn’t even a box to go with it.

Ah Ee went running back and bought the Old Spice, which the vendor wrapped with a page of magazine paper. She rushed back to the ward excitedly and showed her purchase to Mum’s god-sister Polly who was outside Mum’s room.

It was around that time that Ah Ee tore open the magazine page wrapping the Old Spice bottle in the corridor outside Mum’s room. It was around that time that Mum passed away inside the room.

Old Spice

How did such a mysterious thing happen?

With divine intervention, Mum who in that hour passed into God’s hands, must have petitioned God to arrange a parting gift for Dad to comfort him. She had gifted him Old Spice, a sweet fragrance that time-stamped their youthful romance from over 50 years ago.

The person who bought the Old Spice was equally significant. As with siblings, differences sometimes occur and relationships get strained. Ah Ee had visited Mum every day from Saturday through Wednesday, staying long stretches, trying to seek closure with her eldest sister. Mum was mostly sedated by then and unable to speak.

“This is the closure that you were looking for,” Dad told Ah Ee in the hospital corridor after Mum left us.

The eldest sister had “tasked” the youngest sister to carry out one final act; to be the one to deliver Mum’s parting gift to Dad, her beloved. It was an alabaster jar, Old Spice edition. It was a fragrant love offering; a parting gift of sweet sorrow to a spouse and an act of forgiveness to a younger sibling.

Only God knows how improbable and yet, how perfectly calibrated the whole series of events had to be: from the “full permission” to leave in peace, to the recounting of my parent’s early courtship days, to how Ah Ee ended up on Level 3 of Gleneagles and returned with a jar and a mystery in hand.

And with that miraculous parting gift, Mum left us with a most radiant smile and returned home to be with our Lord that faithful day of 27 February 2019.

Related link:

God Knows Leh #27- A Pain in the Abdomen & 7 times of Psalms 23:6

 

 

 

 

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