I got word a couple of hours ago; my aunt passed away today. A no-nonsense, tough-as-nails on the outside yet kind-on-the-inside lady, who single-handedly raised her kids after her husband was killed in a plane crash (one of my inspirations to become a doctor, but that's a different story).
Growing up, my brothers and I were monsters, the kind of kids family friends would dread to have visit. We wrecked havoc wherever we went. However, never at Auntie L's place. We were scared shit of her. I remember her admonishing us for drawing on her wallpapers. Or for not flushing after a number 1. Or for running on the bed. Or for slurping my Milo. We learnt to be on our best behaviour whenever visiting Singapore. Over the years though, as we grew older, she became less scary, more motherly, more understanding. I began to look forward to her visits.
We found out about the nonsmall-cell lung cancer less than a year ago. With spinal cord metastasis. She was a lifelong nonsmoker. The problem with being a physician is you know the prognoses of diseases. And you know what metastatic lung cancer means.
Being the tough cookie she was, she kept her spirits up. When we were in Singapore 3 months ago, Kris and I visited with her. In a way, this was a sad affair for me as I had a feeling that we were saying our goodbyes. In some ways this reminded me of the farewell I bid to grandpa before I left for Canada. I had hoped that she would hang around longer, for our wedding in July. And even more, for at least my cousin to see her one last time.
But sadly, this was not meant to me.
Auntie Lian, we shall all miss you badly. Though you portrayed yourself to be a strict disciplinarian, we know better. Inside that tough shell, was a sweet, kindly woman. But though we'll miss you, I'm glad you're finally at peace.
(Mom, Teng, I hope you're hanging in there)