Tribute To Death

NOT TOO LONG ago, I came across the news of the demise of a journalist from my former workplace, The Star. I don’t know RG personally but have seen her bylines before. RG died of a heart attack in August. She was only 48 and left behind two teenage children.

This brought me back to April 2011 when I stumbled upon an obituary of an acquaintance I made in 2009 in Macau. Though we only met once, Dr. Faustina – a dentist by profession – left a lasting sweet impression. Sadly, two years later, she’s dead at 48 and left behind two young children then.

And also recently, I read that a cameraman from another former workplace (a TV station), died in a freak accident. He was 48 too.

I am not too far from 48. I have two kids too. Silly to be saying this, but “Will my time be up soon?”

Star2 paid tribute to RG in a news article in September, overflowing with beautiful and kind words about her. Sadly, she will never get to read them.

I turned to my girls and shared with them this piece of news. And I told them, “If you have anything nice to say about Mommy, please tell me when I am still alive, not when I am dead!” To which, Little Em immediately responded, “I always do”… which is true.

That evening, Big M – a teenager with few words and normally hibernates in her room – remained next to me. She even took the other half of my ear plug while I was listening to Seo In Guk’s “I Can’t Live Because of You”. Together we listened to it, over and over and OVER again (it was on replay mode), as we read some online news. She even agreed that it was a catchy song; while Little Em hugged me tight as always.

(PS. At this stage in life when a teenager and a mom rarely see eye to eye, an agreement on a song choice – a Mom’s choice at that – is akin to striking lottery!)

Often, when the time comes to pay tribute to a dead friend, one finds it hard to express one’s thoughts on the spot. But over the years, tributes have come in the most unexpected form and even at times during common conversations. I have saved letters, emails and phone messages friends have sent me through the years, and thought they would make nice tributes when I am gone. It also saves them the trouble of thinking what “nice” things to say about me when I am really dead!

Here’s one I treasure…

“I was reading a copy of Calvin & Hobbes today. When I came to the last page, I realised then that it was a birthday gift from you. You wrote a lovely note: “Unlike Hobbes who is an imaginary friend, we are real friends. Thank you!” Its pages are yellowing a bit but it is most precious to me, esp now that the years have gone by. It’s such a wonderful, wonderful keepsake now.” … A wonderful “keepsake” phone message from FYP, 18 Nov 2013.

Others that I treasure are keepsake cards from my schoolmates of four decades, whom I paid tribute to in The Best of PESS.

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September in Accra, 2014

MEMORIES OF SEPTEMBER in Accra included a visit to the museum and art centre, three birthdays, several clinic/lab trips, a farewell, lots of reunions and a long-lost friend found; and countless hours on WA chats; a broken water pump and alarm (no thanks to the rain and constant electricity cuts/surge).

Medication madness from our clinic visits… Little Em was down with fever early in the month and skipped school three days while Big M battled with severe eczema this month, a second dermatologist was consulted, and several visits followed. (Sept 2014)

Medication madness from our clinic visits… Little Em was down with fever early in the month and skipped school three days while Big M battled with severe eczema this month, a second dermatologist was consulted, and several visits followed. (Sept 2014)

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As soon as she recovered, Little Em hosted her first playdate. (6 Sept 2014)

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Little Em with her favourite My Little Pony’s Rarity (6 Sept 2014)

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The spouses’ group bade a tearful goodbye to member Koko (who was cross-posted to Chile) on an afternoon that saw all of us sporting Nigerian headgear gele. (9 Sept 2014)

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On Malaysia Day, we were in the news. (16 Sept 2014)

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Food blessings… a friend gave me these huge bitter gourds which her husband grew in their garden (17 Sept); fresh oyster mushrooms from a local friend who also grew them on her farm (18 Sept 2014)

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Made a trip to the National Museum with two ladies (entrance was GHC20 each for foreigners; GHC5 for locals); Gloria the guide took us through the history of Ghana. (25 Sept 2014)

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Prior to that we checked out the Arts Centre, Accra for local souvenirs and handicrafts. (Sept 2014)

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Little Em celebrated her birthday in school with Frozen cupcakes (Sept 2014)

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Back home, September birthday gals included AhYee who turned 50 (15 Sept 2014), photo of her birthday cupcakes with luxury items were from last year; while Kim Kim had a fiesta with the kids on her birthday (26 Sept 2014).

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Back home, September was a winning  month for Mel and Ian who participated in two contests and won prizes. Well done!… reminds me of my contest-craze days too.

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Mel and Ian with their certificates and voucher prize.

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Back home, a school turned 100 in September 2014.

September was a walk down memory lane as my alma mater celebrated its 100th birthday in the SMKPP Centennial Gala Dinner on 20 September 2014. The reunion of old friends back home led me to find a long-lost Standard One friend, our last contact being 33 years ago.

Em’s First Playdate

EM’S BEEN WANTING to invite friends over for a playdate ever since we identified the home back in April… mind you, it was a time when she didn’t even have many friends, other than the children of Papa’s colleagues and the two children of Mommy’s friend.

When we finally moved into the house in July and she started school in August, the desire to invite friends over grew stronger… mind you, her room was still in a mess, unpacked boxes still scattered around, and some toys were still in them!

The week that we finally agreed to her earnest request, she fell ill and was absent from school for three days. When she finally recovered and returned to school on a Thursday, I went with her and hastily made contact with the parents of her classmates whom she wanted to invite.

And that’s how her first playdate came about on this date, Saturday, 6 September 2014.

(Top, left) Little Em hosting her first playdate, queued up last allowing her friends to have a go at the food first.

Little Em hosting her first playdate, queued up last allowing her friends to have a go at the food first.

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Bored of playing toys in her room, they came downstairs… (L) Nafisa played the piano; (R) Playdate or play dead?

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Big M had her share of playdates back in HK with two of her closest friends then, both of whom were in Netball Club with her.

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Little Em got a tiny teeny taste of playdate back then when she was included by Big M’s friends, at home on 9 April 2010. 

Juicy Tales

ALAS, THE KIDS aren’t particularly fond of vegetables. Thankfully they enjoy the tropical fruits here, so I am assured they still get their nutrients including vitamin C, minerals, potassium, fiber and folic acid, among others.

Tropical fruits galore including mangoes, bananas and pineapples.

We particularly enjoy the juicy and sweet mangoes, so we always end up getting more mangoes from the fruit stall. Notice the two tiny papayas next to the mangoes.

We particularly enjoy the sweet and juicy mangoes, so we always end up getting more mangoes from the fruit stall. Notice the two tiny papayas next to the mangoes.

When we are out of fresh fruits, these come to the rescue, though fresh is still the best. We’ve since identified mango juice as our favourite too.