In Death, There Is Life (Part 3)

by Patrick Liew on August 23, 2012

Death has a way to lend poignancy to the
highways and byways of our memories.

Over the years, I’ve heard many stories. Some of them have a way to stir my guts and transport me to another dimension. There…

are others that break my heart and bring me to the lowest level of sorrow.

There is one story that stays in my mind and one which leaves a bitter-sweet feeling in my spirit. It’s a story told to me by my Ma.

On 1 March, 2012, I drove my Ma back from her hometown in Kulai. On the way, she shared with me a story that touched me at the deepest level of my heart.

Ma shared with me about the special friendship between my Pa and her brother, Uncle Tai. It was a relationship that I knew little about, a bond that few have ever experienced in their lifetime.

I have to say that their friendship was all very strange to me.

Two men with different upbringings and living in two different countries; I could not comprehend how they could be so close to one another, especially when they hardly have a chance to meet one another.

All I could remember was that on the rare occasions when Uncle dropped into my home, Pa would welcome him with an affection that was beyond me. They would usually go to Pa’s favourite Bak Kut Teh stall and order two steaming bowls of soup.

They would then pour their hearts out to one another. Their laughter still rings in my ears.

Pa passed away suddenly on 17 March 1990. He had a heart attack and collapsed at the immigration counter of the Changi Airport. It shocked many airline passengers who, like Pa, was returning from overseas.

Uncle came for the wake, crying literally like a baby. My family had to watch over him throughout the funeral rituals for fear he would do something untowards to himself.

After returning to his home, Uncle continued to wallow in deep grief. He missed Pa so much that he was virtually in a daze throughout the day.

He tried to drown his sorrows through alcoholic drinks but his mind would give him no relief from thoughts of Pa. The love and affection that they shared overwhelmed the healing power of time, or perhaps I should say that my Uncle never gave time a chance.

Two weeks later, Uncle Tai passed away.

If you have been reading my blog, you would know that Pa had many friends. He was a friendly man and a person whom many could count upon for help.

The funeral wake was packed with people. Many of them, like Uncle Tai had been touched by the sincerity and the generosity of Pa’s friendship.

When I reflect upon this salient quality and Uncle Tai’s relationship with Pa, it inspired me to cultivate more friends and stand by them throughout my life. I’m proud of the exemplary conduct that Pa had left behind for me.

(Once again, thank you Pa. When the sun rises tomorrow, I will endeavour to continue your legacy. I will stretch out my hand of friendship to those around me).

One good way to measure the success of my life is the number of friends who will show up at my funeral – people who will be thankful for my life and will miss me when I am gone.

To humour myself, this thought sometimes crossed my mind – When I was born, everybody was happy while I was crying.

When I die, I will be happy as I’ll be going to a better place, and everybody will be crying because they miss me.

I do not want to go through what Thomas Hardy called the ‘second death’ in his poem, ‘The To-Be-Forgotten’,

‘They bide as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
It is the second death’

I thought to myself, ‘It is tragic if I die, no one will remember me or worst, want to remember me.’

I can take nothing away with me at the end of my life. However I can leave behind something of value.

The highest value I can leave behind will be my contribution to the people around me and for the environment they lived in. If I live for this noble aspiration, I would have lived a good life.

For that, I will be happy to meet my Maker and to give Him an account of my life.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on current affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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