Thursday, December 30, 2010

Simple friend vs. real friend

I have many friends.
Perhaps I have too many friends.
But what I am thankful for is that I have more than enough REAL friends.
To differentiate between real friends and good time friends, take a good read.
Then perhaps, you will know who your real friends are.

A Simple Friend has never seen you cry.

A Real Friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.

A Simple Friend doesn't know your parent's first names.

A Real Friend has your parents asking about them when it's been a while since they saw each other..
(and sometimes, your real friends have nicknames for your parents too).

A Simple Friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.

A Real Friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you clean.

A Simple Friend hates it when you call after he/she has gone to bed.

A Real Friend asks you why you took so long to call.

A Simple Friend seeks to talk with you about problems.

A Real Friend seeks to help you with your problems.

A Simple Friend wonders about your life history.

A Real Friend could blackmail you with it, and they never will.

Simple Friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.

A Real Friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.(yeah, Harry, carry on then)

A Simple Friend thinks the friendship is over when you have an argument.

A Real Friend knows that it's not a friendship until after you've had a fight.

A Simple Friend expects you to always be there for them.

A Real Friend expects to always be there for you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quote for 2011

Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.

- Arnold Palmer

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thought for the Day

No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity,

if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family,

what have you really accomplished?

Elbert Hubbard, 1856 - 1915

Saturday, December 18, 2010

21 Things To Remember

Can't remember if I posted this before, but it's definitely worth remembering, these 21 things.

1. No one can ruin your day without YOUR permission.

2. Most people will be about as happy, as they decide to be.

3. Others can stop you temporarily, but only you can do it permanently.

4. Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have.

5. Success stops when you do.

6. When your ship comes in.... make sure you are willing to unload it.

7. You will never "have it all together."

8. Life is a journey...not a destination. Enjoy the trip!

9. The biggest lie on the planet people always tell THEMSELVES is
"When I get what I want, I will be happy."

10. The best way to escape your problem is to solve it.

11. I've learned that ultimately, 'takers' lose and 'givers' win.

12. Life's precious moments don't have value, unless they are shared.

13. If you don't start, it's certain you won't arrive.

14. We often fear the thing we want the most.

15. He or she who laughs......lasts. I mean, it's really true.

16. Yesterday was the deadline for all complaints.

17. Look for opportunities...not guarantees.

18. Life is what's coming....not what was.

19. Success is getting up one more time.

20. Now is the most interesting time of all.

21. When things go wrong.....don't go with the flow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Anyway, whatever...........

The general elections for Malaysia is coming in 4 months time.
People are stoking up emotions for political purposes.
That's already not including the barriers you have to go through every day in your work, with traffic on the way to work and when you are at home with family.
It's the end of the year, people!
If it's anything, it's time to reflect on what good you have done, rather the bad stuff that others do.
This is a great collection of thoughts by Keith Kent.
As long as you keep it in your heart and mind, you'll go through life just fine.


People are often unreasonable,

Illogical and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,

People may accuse

You of selfish motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,

You will win some false friends

And some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,

People may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,

Someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,

They may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,

People will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,

And it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,

It is between you and God;

It never was between you and them anyway.

Keith M. Kent

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's my MBA for then?

This is food for thought. Take your time to digest this quote.

The opportunity for the average workman to rise to the management positions in industry was never better than it is today.
These opportunities will continue to grow in the next decade.
If the average intelligent and honest workman supplements his practical work experience with study of the general problems of business he will find privileged opportunities and promotion awaiting him.

-- Henry H. Heimann

Monday, December 06, 2010

Medicine is not just a career, but a calling.

It's high time to regulate the private healthcare industry in Malaysia.

When the media recently highlighted the case of a DOCTOR getting billed RM10k for a simple procedure at a private hospital, I laughed because it's almost like a taste of your own medicine.
You mean to tell me, you NEVER intended to profit from your patients?
Like I expounded before, is it the Hippocrates Oath or Hypocritic Oath?
Here's an article written by a doctor, the weight of her name should not affect her opinion.

Dr Lee Wei Ling, Lee Kuan Yew's daughter.

I have always felt keenly the suffering of animals. Since I was a child, I had wanted to be a vet. My parents persuaded me to abandon that idea by using the example of a vet whose university education was funded by the Public Service Commission. When he returned to Singapore, he was posted to serve his bond at the abattoirs. That was enough to persuade me to select my second career choice – a doctor. I have never regretted that decision.

There are still many diseases for which medical science has no cure, and this is especially true of neurological diseases because nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord do not usually regenerate. Hence, a significant percentage of patients seeing neurologists, of which I am one, cannot be cured. But as in all areas of medicine, we still try our best for the patient, ‘to cure, sometimes; to relieve, often; to comfort, always’.

An example is a 70-year-old woman who sees me for her epilepsy. Her husband has taken a China mistress whom he has brought back to his marital home. He wants my patient to sell her 50 per cent ownership of their HDB flat and move out. Her children side with the husband because he is the one with the money and assets to will to them.

When this patient comes, I always greet her with a big smile and compliment her on her cheongsam. She will tell me she sewed it herself, and I will praise her for her skill. Then I ask her whether she has had any seizures since the last time she saw me. She sees me at yearly intervals, and usually, she will have had none.

Next, I ask her how she is coping at home. She would say she just ignores her husband and his mistress. I would give her a thumbs-up in reply, then ask her whether she still goes to watch Chinese operas. She would say yes.

By then, I would have prepared her prescription. I hand it to her, pat her on her back and she would walk out with a smile on her face, back straight and a spring in her step.

It takes me only five minutes to do the above. I can control but not cure her epilepsy. But I have cheered her up for the day.

One very special patient, Jac, has idiopathic severe generalised torsion dystonia. By the age of 11, she was as twisted as a pretzel and barely able to speak intelligibly. She did well in the Primary School Leaving Examination, but was a few points short of the score needed for an external student to be accepted by Methodist Girls’ School (MGS).

I had done fund-raising for MGS prior to this and knew the principal. I phoned her and explained Jac’s disease as well as her determination and diligence.

I told the principal that the nurturing environment of MGS would be good for Jac, and that it would be a good lesson for the other students in MGS to learn to interact with a peer with disability.

At the end of Secondary 2, Jac mailed me a book and a typed letter. The book was a collection of Chinese essays by students in MGS.

There were two essays by Jac. In addition, she had topped the entire Secondary 1 and, subsequently, Secondary 2 in Chinese. She was second in the entire Secondary 2 for Chemistry. She was happy at MGS, and her peers accepted her and helped wheel her around in her wheelchair.

Medication merely gave Jac some degree of pain relief from her dystonia. Being admitted to MGS gave her the opportunity to enjoy school and thrive in it.

I was walking on clouds for the next few hours after I received the book and letter. Jac showed that an indomitable human spirit can triumph over a severe physical disability. As a doctor, I am not just handling a medical problem but the entire patient, including her education and social life.

I have been practising medicine for 30 years now. Over this period, medical science has advanced tremendously, but the values held by the medical community seem to have changed for the worse.

Yearning and working for money is more widely and openly practised; and sometimes this is perceived as acceptable behaviour, though our moral instinct tells us otherwise.

Most normal humans have a moral instinct that can clearly distinguish between right and wrong. But we are more likely to excuse our own wrongdoing if there are others who are doing the same and getting away with it.

These doctors who profit unfairly from their patients know they are doing wrong. But if A, B and C are doing wrong – and X, Y and Z too – then I need not be ashamed of doing the same. Medical students who see this behaviour being tacitly condoned will tend to lower their own moral standards. Instead of putting patients’ welfare first, they will enrich themselves first.

The most important trait a doctor needs is empathy. If we can feel our patient’s pain and suffering, we would certainly do our best by our patients and their welfare would override everything else.

Medicine is not just a prestigious, profitable career – it is a calling. Being a doctor will guarantee almost anyone a decent standard of living. How much money we need for a decent standard of living varies from individual to individual.

My needs are simple and I live a spartan life. I choose to practise in the public sector because I want to serve all patients without needing to consider whether they can pay my fees.

I try not to judge others who demand an expensive lifestyle and treat patients mainly as a source of income. But when the greed is too overwhelming, I cannot help but point out that such behaviour is unethical.

The biggest challenge facing medicine in Singapore today is the struggle between two incentives that drive doctors in opposite directions: the humanitarian, ethical, compassionate drive to do the best by all patients versus the cold, calculating attitude that seeks to profit from as many patients as possible. Hopefully, the first will triumph.

Doctors do have families to support. Needing and wanting money is not wrong. But doctors must never allow greed to determine their actions.

I think if a fair system of pricing medical fees – such that doctors can earn what they deserve but not profit too much from patients – can be implemented, this problem will be much reduced. The Guideline of Fees, which previously was in effect, was dropped last year. I am trying to revive it as soon as possible.

The writer is director of the National Neuroscience Institute.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Credit to Fandi in MT, for the best questions to ask about Malaysian History

Malaysian history

Dilarang senyum atau ketawa semasa menjawab, kalau tidak anda akan digagalkan dr Ujian SPM.

1. Siapakah yang membuka Melaka?

a. Param

b. Parameswari

c. Paramugari Terlampau

d. Parameswara

e. Parang Kontot

2. Pada tahun 1771, seorang penjelajah Inggeris telah tiba di sebuah kawasan yang dikenali sebagai New Hebrides, siapakah dia?

a. Kapten Hook

b. Kapten Crook

c. Kapten Cook

d. Kapten Cool

e. Kapten Boleh

3. Siapakah yang pernah menjadi pemerintah Sarawak?

a. Brooke Shields

b. James Beruk

c. James Bond

d. Sapok Biki

e. James Brooke

4. Siapakah yang membuka Pulau Pinang?

a. Torch Light

b. Traffic Light

c. Francisca Peters

d. Light and Easy

e. Francis Light

5. Salah seorang pahlawan melayu terbilang?

a. Tuk Janggut

b. Tuk Misai

c. Tuk Sideburn

d. Tuk Misai A Galak

e. Tuk Bulu Hidung

6. Pahlawan Melayu di Pahang?

a. Mat Kilau

b. Mat Silau

c. M Daud Kilau

d. Mat Sentul

e. Mat Rempit

7. Siapakah Residen Inggeris di Negeri Perak yang dibunuh oleh Datuk Maharajalela?

a. Jawa Jerongos

b. J.W.W Birch

c. Jay Jay

d. J.W.Marriot

e. Jawa Rangers

8. Negara manakah yang menjajah Tanah Melayu selepas Portugis?

a. Ayam Belanda

b. Bela Anda

c. Blender

d. Belanda

e. Blunder

9. Apakah antara hantaran yang diminta Puteri Gunung Ledang kepada Sultan Melaka?

a. 7 dulang hati nyamuk

b. 7 dulang tongkeng ayam

c. 7 dulang tahi hidung

d. 7 dulang tahi lalat

e. 7 dulang gigi arnab

10. Siapakah puteri Pahang yang mencintai Hang Tuah?

a. Tun Mahathir

b. Tan Tin Tun

c. Tun Tak Tahu Eja

d. Tun Teja

e. Arnold Susahanakeja

11. Siapakah puteri Negeri China yang berkahwin dengan Sultan Melaka?

a. Puteri Hang Li Po

b. Puteri Kepala Hotak Hang!

c. Puteri Opah Hang!

d. Puteri Hang Go Poh

e. Puteri Hang Cing

12. Ikan apakah yang melanggar Singapura?

a. Ikan Bilis

b. Ikan Masin

c. Ikan Kembung Masak Asam

d. Ikan kekek mak iloi-iloi

e. Ikan Todak

13. Siapakah Ketua Kominis Malaya?

a. CIMB Bank

b. Chin Peng

c. Soh Chin Aun

d. Chim Pan Zee

e. Chin Chau

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why being Malaysian is the best!

Good joke!

Being a Malaysian is the best because...

1. World tallest twin towers, Best F1 circuit, largest roti canai, most expensive toll rates, because Malaysia Boleh!

2. We can be driving, picking our nose, cursing another driver, talking on the handphone, adjusting the radio and bribing the traffic police at the same time.

3. We can get a divorce by sending just an SMS.

4. Traffic summons can be settled on the spot with the traffic police.

5. We can have Teh Tarik & Roti Canai on the Russian space ship.

6. We can save a lot of electricity because our TV shows are so crappy.

7. We can blame everything on the haze or George Soros or government or the opposition parties or...

8. Resourceful City Council, one person to drive the van, one to carry the ladder, one to change a street's bulb

and three others watching...

9. Most drivers can make 2 lane trunk roads into 3 lane highway and back to 2 lanes when police are sighted

10. There's always something for the JKR/TNB/TELEKOM/SYABAS to do.

They dig, resurface the road, dig and resurface...and blame each other for bad co-ordination.

11. All main roads are designated highway because it gives Samy Velu a reason to collect toll.

12. Our government can never be wrong or dishonest.

13. Our badminton players are paid only RM35,000 when they win a major international tournament which is very cheap compared to David Beckham.

14. You can easily get a divorce and marry a young singer you like.

15. We can even use C4 explosives to bombard Gengkis Khan or Kublai Khan's great grandchildren.

16. We have more water than Singapore .... nyek nyek nyek.

17. If you have no money you can always snatch other peoples' money since police can't do much to help.

18. If you are a police, doesn't matter about the traffic rules, its for citizens only

19. If you are a policeman outrider you can kick and bang peoples' cars.

20. If you drive a police car, you can speed because speed limits only apply to citizens.

21. You can settle your summons with big discount during “Sales Malaysia”.

22. All motor riders can join the recognized & supported Mat Rempit club for free and can beat up anybody in their way and can even throw stones at the police station anytime they like.

23. If you got nothing to do join the rela and go to the kongsi gelap and extort monies from all the foreign workers.

24. You can rape people and blame them for wearing very little.

25. You don’t need to bother about the poor when you race in your F1.

26. You can keep your money and get a free degree when you have 'connections'.

27. You can get work done with 2 hours lunch break, 2 hours tea break and the rest of the time attending meetings.

28. You get free “bumi” status even if you swim from Indonesia.

29. You can change your sworn Statutory Declaration anytime.

30. You can be a paedophile by “marrying” your young bride.

31 . A country so free to do things you like.

Tell me which country is like ours.

“We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas as

fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

Uncertainty, a certainty of life

I was very uncertain about what I was going to do for this year, that was at the end of last year, where I'll plan out the entire year and timelines.
As we approach the end of this year, the time has come for the same thing that I must do.
After all, if I was so sure that everything I plan becomes a success, then I would be a God, wouldn't I?
My main sustenance is the fact that this journey is still ongoing with the destination getting nearer and nearer, and once it gets to that point, I'll be already plotting a new course of the next stage.
Which brings to mind, this quote:

To live only for some future goal is shallow.
It's the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.

- Robert M. Pirsig

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why it's important to have a positive attitude

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

- Herm Albright

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here's a tip for you, Malaysia

When Benjamin Franklin was asked after a session of the Constitutional Convention, ""What kind of a government have you given us?""
he replied, ""A democracy, if you can keep it.""

Our republic is founded on the principle that it will continue only as long as the people keep democracy alive.

With each political campaign, the people who vote keep democracy alive.

Each citizen who participates in community affairs is keeping democracy alive.

Every act of mercy and helpfulness, every word spoken for freedom, keeps the democratic spirit alive.

Democracy is maintained by passing it on from one generation to another in the school, in place of worship, in the home.

At every stage, it must be strengthened. Let us therefore resolve to give to our successors a stronger republic than was passed on to us.

-- Thomas A. Watson

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life lessons I learned from a jigsaw puzzle

Don't force a fit. If something is meant to be, it will come together naturally.

When things aren't going so well, take a break. Everything will look different when you return.

Be sure to look at the big picture. Getting hung up on the little pieces only leads to frustration.

Perseverance pays off. Every important puzzle went together bit by bit, piece by piece.

When one spot stops working, move to another. But be sure to come back later (see above).

The creator of the puzzle gave you the picture as a guidebook.

Variety is the spice of life. It's the different colors and patterns that make the puzzle interesting.

Establish the border first. Boundaries give a sense of security and order.

Don't be afraid to try different combinations. Some matches are surprising.

Take time to celebrate your successes (even little ones).

Anything worth doing takes time and effort. A great puzzle can't be rushed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Selamat Hari Raya Haji

To all my Muslim friends, Selamat Hari Raya Haji!
Those who are Christians or Muslims would know the story of Abraham, or Ibrahim, and why this day is celebrated
In any case, remind yourself of this saying by one of my favourite authors:

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many--not

on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

-- Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Be a Friend

Even in my profile, I put Friend ahead of other status, such as son to my father, brother to my siblings etc.
Why? Because Friends are the only people in your social circle whom YOU CHOOSE.

Are You A Friend?

A Friend A friend is a person whom you want to have near when you are dying.

And whom you like to be with while you are living;

To whom you spontaneously turn to for help when you are in trouble.

And who is the first to hear the good news when you have good fortune;

Whose counsel you seek when you are perplexed.

And whose congratulations you welcome when the perplexity is solved;

In whom you can confide the secret you want no other living soul to know.

Yet will never pry into your heart to discover whether there are any more secrets to be revealed;

On whom you can lean on when your heart aches.

But who will never take advantage of your leaning;

Who will get down on their knees beside you when you are down.

And forgot they did so when you are on your feet again.

And whose shoulder you can weep on when you are sad.

And with whom you enjoy laughing with when you are glad;

Who has a tear on their cheek when you suffer.

And a twinkle in their eyes when the sun shines on you again;

Who has pain in their tone when you are in distress.

And a melody in their voice when your heart is gay;

Who admires you for your strong points.

But loves you in spite of your weak ones;

Who makes allowances for your limitations,

Without allowing them to obscure your talents;

Who is proud of you when fortune favors you.

But not ashamed of you when you fail;

Who contributes to your success without claiming any share in it.

Who can feel and show satisfaction when you please them

But never resentment when you disappoint them;

Who will tell you the truth even when it hurts.

And to whom you can tell the truth without them taking offense;

Who is not ashamed to ask you a favor even at the risk of being imposed upon.

Who can extend a helping hand and lighten your load

Without expecting any other reward than having had the privilege of so doing.

Who gives all they can whenever they can

Without ever keeping record of what has been given.

Who says the best about you when everybody elseis saying the worst.

Every person needs such friends

Every person owes it to themselves to be such a friend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You want to be happy and rich?



Having lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person should strive for to achieve happiness. I drew up a list of a few essentials which I put forward for the readers' appraisal.

1. First and foremost is GOOD HEALTH. If you do not enjoy good health you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct from your happiness.

2. Second, A HEALTHY BANK BALANCE. It need not run into crores but should be enough to provide for creature comforts and something to spare for recreation, like eating out, going to the pictures, travelling or going on holidays on the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be only demoralizing. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one's own eyes.

3. Third, A HOME OF YOUR OWN. Rented premises can never give you the snug feeling of a nest which is yours for keeps that a home provides: if it has a garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

4. Fourth, AN UNDERSTANDING COMPANION, be it your spouse or a friend. If there are too many misunderstandings, they will rob you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to bicker all the time.

5. Fifth, LACK OF ENVY towards those who have done better than you in life; risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be very corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

6. Sixth, DO NOT ALLOW OTHER PEOPLE to descend on you for gup-shup. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

7. Seventh, CULTIVATE SOME HOBBIES which can bring you a sense of fulfilment, such as gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks or to meet celebrities is a criminal waste of time.

8. Eighth, every morning and evening, devote 15 minutes to INTROSPECTION. In the morning, 10 minutes should be spent on stilling the mind and then five in listing things you have to do that day. In the evening, five minutes to still the mind again, and ten to go over what you had undertaken to do.

RICHNESS is not Earning More, Spending More Or Saving More, but ...


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Quitter

So don't ever be one!
Here's a good poem:

Fate handed the quitter a bump, and he dropped;

The road seemed too rough to go, so he stopped.

He thought of his hurt, and there came to his mind

The easier path he was leaving behind.

Oh, it's all much too hard, said the quitter right then;

I'll stop where I am and not try it again.

He sat by the road and he made up his tale

To tell when men asked why he happened to fail.

A thousand excuses flew up to his tongue,

And these on the thread of his story he strung,

But the truth of the matter he didn't admit;

He never once said, I was frightened and quit.

Whenever the quitter sits down by the road

And drops from the struggle to lighten his load,

He can always recall to his own peace of mind

A string of excuses for falling behind;

But somehow or other he can't think of one

Good reason for battling and going right on.

Oh, when the bump comes and fate hands you a jar,

Don't baby yourself, boy, whoever you are;

Don't pity yourself and talk over your woes;

Don't think up excuses for dodging the blows.

But stick to the battle and see the thing through.

And don't be a quitter, whatever you do.

By Edgar A. Guest

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Worry and stuff

Now that I'm in business, it takes a lot of mental strength just to deal with the daily stress as well as the long term plans for the business.
My brother in law who runs the home improvement center worries a lot, naturally. Cashflow, revenue projections, breakeven point for product lines etc.
At the end of the day, is it REALLY worth the worry?
Take this from Dale Carnegie to put everything into perspective.

“ Do you remember the things you were worrying about a year ago? Didn't you waste a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them? Didn't most of them turn out all right after all? Do you remember the things you were worrying about a year ago? Didn't you waste a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them? Didn't most of them turn out all right after all? ”
- Dale Carnegie

Saturday, November 06, 2010

No Left Turns

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large & small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed.

No Left Turns

My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s,"to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: "Oh, bull----!" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines , would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving.

The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning.

If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator.

Once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again.

"No left turns," he said. "Think about it.. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

"No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. "Loses count?" I asked.

"Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said " If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated.

"Because you're 102 years old," I said.

"Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: "I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet."

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: "I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died. I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life,

Or because he quit taking left turns.

~Miachel Gartner~

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What does your actions mean?

Standing for what You Believe In,

Regardless of the Odds against You,

And the Pressure that Tears at Your Resistance,

... Means Courage.

Keeping a Smile on Your Face,

When Inside, You feel like Dying,

For the sake of Supporting Others,

... Means Strength.

Stopping at Nothing,

And doing what's in Your Heart, You know is Right,

... Means Determination.

Doing More than is Expected,

To make another's Life a little more Bearable,

Without Uttering a single Complaint,

... Means Compassion.

Helping a Friend in Need,

No matter the Time or Effort,

To the Best of Your Ability,

... Means Loyalty.

Giving More than You have,

And Expecting Nothing,

But Nothing in Return,

... Means Selflessness.

Holding Your Head High,

And Being the Best You know You Can Be

When Life seems to Fall Apart at Your Feet,

Facing each Difficulty with the Confidence

That Time will bring You better Tomorrow's,

And Never Giving Up,

... Means Confidence.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Whatever I can do, I WILL DO

This week has possibly been the toughest week yet this year.
And next week begins with my wife's examination at the National Liver Center to see if her liver cancer has come back.
We are humans, and with a limited life span, there is only so much we can do.
But I've always believed that whatever I can do, I WILL DO!

If I can throw a single ray of light across the darkened pathway of another; if I can aid some soul to clearer sight of life and duty, and thus bless my brother; if I can wipe from any human cheek a tear, I shall not have lived my life in vain while here.

   If I can guide some erring one to truth, inspire within his heart a sense of duty; if I can plant within my soul of rosy youth a sense of right, a love of truth and beauty; if I can teach one man that God and heaven are near, I shall not then have lived in vain while here.

   If from my mind I banish doubt and fear, and keep my life attuned to love and kindness; if I can scatter light and hope and cheer, and help remove the curse of mental blindness; if I can make more joy, more hope, less pain, I shall not have lived and loved in vain.

   If by life's roadside I can plant a tree, beneath whose shade some wearied head may rest, though I may never share its beauty, I shall yet be truly blest--though no one knows my name, nor drops a flower upon my grave, I shall not have lived in vain while here.

The last lecture

Randy Pausch 47 yrs old, a computer Sc. lecturer from Mellon University, died of pancreatic cancer in 2008, but wrote a book  "The last lecture" before then, one of the bestsellers in 2007. What a legacy to leave behind...
In a letter to his wife Jai and his children, Dylan, Logan , and Chloe, he wrote this beautiful "guide to a better life" for his wife and children to follow.

May you be blessed by his insight.



1. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
2. Don't have negative thoughts of things you cannot cont rol. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment
3. Don't over do; keep your limits
4. Don't take yourself so seriously; no one else does
5. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip
6. Dream more while you are awake
7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
8. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
10. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present
11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you
12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.
Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
13. Smile and laugh more
14. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


15. Call your family often
16. Each day give something good to others
17. Forgive everyone for everything
18. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6
19. Try to make at least three people smile each day
20. What other people think of you is none of your business
21. Your job will not take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.


22. Put GOD first in anything and everything that you think, say and do.
23. GOD heals everything
24. Do the right things
25. However good or bad a situation is, it will change 26. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up 
27. The best is yet to come
28. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful
29. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When it's getting tough to get going........

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

- Theodore Roosevelt

Life Lessons from Jim Rohn

Life is worthwhile if you TRY.

Try something to see if you can do it. Try to make a difference. Try to make some progress. Try to learn a new skill. Try your best. Give it every effort.

Life is worthwhile if you STAY.

You have to stay from spring until harvest. If you have signed up for the day or the game or the project, see it through. Don't end in the middle.

Life is worthwhile if you CARE.

If you care at all, you will get results. If you care enough, you will get incredible results.

Care enough to make a difference.

Care enough to turn somebody around.

Care enough to change.

Care enough to win.

Life is worthwhile if you PLAN.

If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan.

Life is worthwhile if you GIVE.

Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.

Life is worthwhile if you BE.

Wherever you are, be there. Develop a unique focus on the current moment.

Let others lead small lives, but not you.

Let others argue over small things, but not you.

Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.

Let others leave their futures in someone else's hands, but not you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thought Of The Day

Didn't realise I hadn't blogged for almost a month. 
Finished my main event for the month, and things should be running smoothly.
Alas, things are never as you expect them to be. 
Cash is missing from my cashier's drawer, and I can't get the bloody culprit caught on CCTV either.
The toughest thing to manage in business is manpower, and once you get that right, things will get better, NOT always, but you can be assured your business will run slightly better.

The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions. A chip on the shoulder is too heavy a piece of baggage to carry through life.

-- John Hancock

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

German Folk Tale

The Three Butterfly Brothers

There were once three little butterfly brothers, one white, one red, and one yellow. They played in the sunshine, and danced among the flowers in the garden, and they never grew tired because they were so happy.

One day there came a heavy rain, and it wet their wings. They flew away home, but when they got there they found the door locked and the key gone. So they had to stay out of doors in the rain, and they grew wetter and wetter.

By and by they flew to the red and yellow striped tulip, and said: "Friend Tulip, will you open your flower-cup and let us in till the storm is over?"

The tulip answered: "The red and yellow butterflies may enter, because they are like me, but the white one may not come in."

But the red and yellow butterflies said: "If our white brother may not find shelter in your flower-cup, why, then, we'll stay outside in the rain with him."

It rained harder and harder, and the poor little butterflies grew wetter and wetter, so they flew to the white lily and said: "Good Lily, will you open your bud a little so we may creep in out of the rain?"

The lily answered: "The white butterfly may come in, because he is like me, but the red and yellow ones must stay outside in the storm."

Then the little white butterfly said: "If you won't receive my red and yellow brothers, why, then, I'll stay out in the rain with them. We would rather be wet than be parted."

So the three little butterflies flew away.

But the sun, who was behind a cloud, heard it all, and he knew what good little brothers the butterflies were, and how they had held together in spite of the wet. So he pushed his face through the clouds, and chased away the rain, and shone brightly on the garden.

He dried the wings of the three little butterflies, and warmed their bodies. They ceased to sorrow, and danced among the flowers till evening, then they flew away home, and found the door wide open.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great eulogy by Lee Kuan Yew

The last farewell to my wife — Lee Kuan Yew

October 06, 2010 —

Ancient people developed and ritualised mourning practices to express the shared grief of family and friends, and together show not fear or distaste for death, but respect for the dead one; and to give comfort to the living who will miss the deceased.

I recall the ritual mourning when my maternal grandmother died some 75 years ago. For five nights the family would gather to sing her praises and wail and mourn at her departure, led by a practiced professional mourner.

Such rituals are no longer observed. My family’s sorrow is to be expressed in personal tributes to the matriarch of our family.

In October 2003 when she had her first stroke, we had a strong intimation of our mortality.

My wife and I have been together since 1947 for more than three quarters of our lives. My grief at her passing cannot be expressed in words. But today, when recounting our lives together, I would like to celebrate her life.

In our quiet moments, we would revisit our lives and times together. We had been most fortunate. At critical turning points in our lives, fortune favoured us.

As a young man with an interrupted education at Raffles College, and no steady job or profession, her parents did not look upon me as a desirable son-in-law. But she had faith in me.

We had committed ourselves to each other. I decided to leave for England in September 1946 to read law, leaving her to return to Raffles College to try to win one of the two Queen’s Scholarships awarded yearly. We knew that only one Singaporean would be awarded. I had the resources, and sailed for England, and hoped that she would join me after winning the Queen’s Scholarship.

If she did not win it, she would have to wait for me for three years.

In June the next year, 1947, she did win it. But the British colonial office could not get her a place in Cambridge.

Through Chief Clerk of Fitzwilliam, I discovered that my Censor at Fitzwilliam, W S Thatcher, was a good friend of the Mistress of Girton, Miss Butler.

He gave me a letter of introduction to the Mistress. She received me and I assured her that Choo would most likely take a “First”, because she was the better student when we both were at Raffles College.

I had come up late by one term to Cambridge, yet passed my first year qualifying examination with a class 1. She studied Choo’s academic record and decided to admit her in October that same year, 1947.

We have kept each other company ever since. We married privately in December 1947 at Stratford-upon-Avon. At Cambridge, we both put in our best efforts. She took a first in two years in Law Tripos II. I took a double first, and a starred first for the finals, but in three years.

We did not disappoint our tutors. Our Cambridge Firsts gave us a good start in life. Returning to Singapore, we both were taken on as legal assistants in Laycock & Ong, a thriving law firm in Malacca Street. Then we married officially a second time that September 1950 to please our parents and friends. She practised conveyancing and draftsmanship, I did litigation.

In February 1952, our first son Hsien Loong was born. She took maternity leave for a year.

That February, I was asked by John Laycock, the Senior Partner, to take up the case of the Postal and Telecommunications Uniformed Staff Union, the postmen’s union.

They were negotiating with the government for better terms and conditions of service. Negotiations were deadlocked and they decided to go on strike. It was a battle for public support. I was able to put across the reasonableness of their case through the press and radio. After a fortnight, they won concessions from the government. Choo, who was at home on maternity leave, pencilled through my draft statements, making them simple and clear.

Over the years, she influenced my writing style. Now I write in short sentences, in the active voice. We gradually influenced each other’s ways and habits as we adjusted and accommodated each other.

We knew that we could not stay starry-eyed lovers all our lives; that life was an on-going challenge with new problems to resolve and manage.

We had two more children, Wei Ling in 1955 and Hsien Yang in 1957. She brought them up to be well-behaved, polite, considerate and never to throw their weight as the prime minister’s children.

As a lawyer, she earned enough, to free me from worries about the future of our children.

She saw the price I paid for not having mastered Mandarin when I was young. We decided to send all three children to Chinese kindergarten and schools.

She made sure they learned English and Malay well at home. Her nurturing has equipped them for life in a multi-lingual region.

We never argued over the upbringing of our children, nor over financial matters. Our earnings and assets were jointly held. We were each other’s confidant.

She had simple pleasures. We would walk around the Istana gardens in the evening, and I hit golf balls to relax.

Later, when we had grandchildren, she would take them to feed the fish and the swans in the Istana ponds. Then we would swim. She was interested in her surroundings, for instance, that many bird varieties were pushed out by mynahs and crows eating up the insects and vegetation.

She discovered the curator of the gardens had cleared wild grasses and swing fogged for mosquitoes, killing off insects they fed on. She stopped this and the bird varieties returned. She surrounded the swimming pool with free flowering scented flowers and derived great pleasure smelling them as she swam.

She knew each flower by its popular and botanical names. She had an enormous capacity for words.

She had majored in English literature at Raffles College and was a voracious reader, from Jane Austen to JRR Tolkien, from Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian Wars to Virgil’s Aeneid, to The Oxford Companion to Food, and Seafood of Southeast Asia, to Roadside Trees of Malaya, and Birds of Singapore.

She helped me draft the Constitution of the PAP. For the inaugural meeting at Victoria Memorial Hall on 4 November 1954, she gathered the wives of the founder members to sew rosettes for those who were going on stage.

In my first election for Tanjong Pagar, our home in Oxley Road, became the HQ to assign cars provided by my supporters to ferry voters to the polling booth.

She warned me that I could not trust my new found associates, the leftwing trade unionists led by Lim Chin Siong. She was furious that he never sent their high school student helpers to canvass for me in Tanjong Pagar, yet demanded the use of cars provided by my supporters to ferry my Tanjong Pagar voters.

She had an uncanny ability to read the character of a person. She would sometimes warn me to be careful of certain persons; often, she turned out to be right.

When we were about to join Malaysia, she told me that we would not succeed because the UMNO Malay leaders had such different lifestyles and because their politics were communally-based, on race and religion.

I replied that we had to make it work as there was no better choice. But she was right.

We were asked to leave Malaysia before two years.

When separation was imminent, Eddie Barker, as Law Minister, drew up the draft legislation for the separation. But he did not include an undertaking by the Federation Government to guarantee the observance of the two water agreements between the PUB and the Johor state government. I asked Choo to include this. She drafted the undertaking as part of the constitutional amendment of the Federation of Malaysia Constitution itself.

She was precise and meticulous in her choice of words. The amendment statute was annexed to the Separation Agreement, which we then registered with the United Nations.

The then Commonwealth Secretary Arthur Bottomley said that if other federations were to separate, he hoped they would do it as professionally as Singapore and Malaysia.

It was a compliment to Eddie’s and Choo’s professional skills. Each time Malaysian Malay leaders threatened to cut off our water supply, I was reassured that this clear and solemn international undertaking by the Malaysian government in its Constitution will get us a ruling by the UNSC (United Nations Security Council).

After her first stroke, she lost her left field of vision. This slowed down her reading. She learned to cope, reading with the help of a ruler. She swam every evening and kept fit. She continued to travel with me, and stayed active despite the stroke. She stayed in touch with her family and old friends.

She listened to her collection of CDs, mostly classical, plus some golden oldies. She jocularly divided her life into “before stroke” and “after stroke”, like BC and AD.

She was friendly and considerate to all associated with her. She would banter with her WSOs (woman security officers) and correct their English grammar and pronunciation in a friendly and cheerful way. Her former WSOs visited her when she was at NNI. I thank them all.

Her second stroke on 12 May 2008 was more disabling. I encouraged and cheered her on, helped by a magnificent team of doctors, surgeons, therapists and nurses.

Her nurses, WSOs and maids all grew fond of her because she was warm and considerate. When she coughed, she would take her small pillow to cover her mouth because she worried for them and did not want to infect them.

Her mind remained clear but her voice became weaker. When I kissed her on her cheek, she told me not to come too close to her in case I caught her pneumonia.

I assured her that the doctors did not think that was likely because I was active.

When given some peaches in hospital, she asked the maid to take one home for my lunch. I was at the centre of her life.

On 24 June 2008, a CT scan revealed another bleed again on the right side of her brain. There was not much more that medicine or surgery could do except to keep her comfortable.

I brought her home on 3 July 2008. The doctors expected her to last a few weeks. She lived till 2nd October, 2 years and 3 months.

She remained lucid. They gave time for me and my children to come to terms with the inevitable. In the final few months, her faculties declined. She could not speak but her cognition remained.

She looked forward to have me talk to her every evening.

Her last wish she shared with me was to enjoin our children to have our ashes placed together, as we were in life.

The last two years of her life were the most difficult. She was bedridden after small successive strokes; she could not speak but she was still cognisant.

Every night she would wait for me to sit by her to tell her of my day’s activities and to read her favourite poems. Then she would sleep.

I have precious memories of our 63 years together. Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life. She devoted herself to me and our children.

She was always there when I needed her. She has lived a life full of warmth and meaning.

I should find solace at her 89 years of her life well lived. But at this moment of the final parting, my heart is heavy with sorrow and grief.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Once upon a time

A young novice had entered a monastery run by a wise abbot.
One day the abbot told his monks that he was going to share a secret teaching with them that would bring them lasting peace and happiness, but if they shared it with anyone else they would be expelled from the monastery.
The next day several of the older monks saw the young novice sharing the secret teaching with everyone in a nearby town. They ran back and told the abbot what they had saw. The abbot just smiled and said, "I can teach this young novice nothing further.

He is already an abbot in his own right."

Monday, October 04, 2010

Learning as we go

Thanks to Patricia for this one.
Good reminder, that we never stopped growing (at least physically) and we learn more as we experience more of life.

As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down probably will.

You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time.

You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken.

You'll fight with your best friend.

You'll blame a new love for things an old one did.

You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love.

So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back.

Don't be afraid that your life will end,
ONLY be afraid that it will never begin.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Truly touching love story

Few stories can match this one, plus it's a real love story.
Cried at the end.
Maybe you will too.

Our first date was the last day of his life

When we met online, it was as if we'd known each other forever. Then came the tragedy I'll never forget

By Lorraine Berry

A photo of Yves.I woke up when Yves thrust himself off the mattress. "My head is killing me," he said. "I'm going to take some more Tylenol."

I heard him open the cabinet door, turn on the water as if pouring himself a drink. Then a loud bang startled me from bed.

Yves slumped on the floor, his back against the wall, his side against the bathtub. Tylenol was scattered on the tiles.

"Help me stand up," he said. But when I wrapped my arm around his waist and pulled him toward me, we both fell forward, my back hitting the vanity as I struggled to cushion him from the fall. His eyes fluttered. He was clearly in pain.

"I think we should call a doctor," I said.

"No, no," he said. "I just need to get back to bed. Give me a minute." Then he closed his eyes.

"Yves," I said. No response.

I sat beside him, stroking his back, letting him know that he was not alone, while we waited for the ambulance. I had only met Yves in person that day. But it felt like we had known each other for a lifetime.

I'm not sure what made me get in touch with Yves when I saw him on Salon personals. How can we untangle the mysterious calculus that is attraction? I liked how he playfully listed the languages he spoke as "French, English, and Body Language." I liked the description of the woman he was seeking: "sensualist a must. a self-confident goddess too. a mermaid is also welcomed."

I'm sure other women looked at his profile and thought "nope." But I read it and saw a kindred spirit. He lived in Montreal, and I could tell from the way he wrote that he was Quebecois. I liked the idea of the two of us communicating in two languages. "This online dating thing is well … difficult," he e-mailed me early on. "And I'm a bit 'clutsty' at it."

It was the "clutsty" that clenched my heart.

Continue reading

E-mails turned into phone calls that went way past my bedtime. Each time we talked, we seemed to find another point of connection. His desire to live in a big house out in the countryside, "somewhere the leaves would crunch under my feet when I walk with my love" (I owned such a house). Our intense devotion to our daughters, our aspirations that they grow up strong and independent and fierce. Rrrrriot grrrls, he called them.

The approaching weekend was Veteran's Day, and after much haggling about where to meet, sleeping arrangements, who would pay for what, we agreed on a plan. I would drive to Montreal to meet someone who already felt like a part of me.

I've never gotten over my apprehension about meeting in person: It doesn't matter how much communication you have with someone via e-mail or phone. Physical chemistry will not be denied.

And what did I see? A man who looked much younger than his 43 years. A dark man -- his hair charcoal, his eyes almost black but welcoming and open. He was smiling, and the only thing I wasn't expecting was that his teeth were crooked -- in every photo he had sent me, his mouth had been closed, but after the initial reaction of "I haven't seen this before," I almost immediately forgot it.

I had dressed carefully: black hip-hugger pants and thick-heeled boots that gave me a little height, a scarlet camisole and a cardigan. It was unseasonably warm for November. As we were climbing the stairs to his apartment, Yves was behind me, and he made some comment about enjoying the view as I mounted the stairs. I didn't take offense. I was already feeling a buzz from him, too.

We sat on the couch and began to talk. I turned my body toward his, one of my knees pulled up on the couch. We talked about what to do with the afternoon. He had not had time to go shopping for food, so we decided to take a trip to the market to pick up groceries. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and when I came out, he was standing in the middle of the living room. I walked toward him, and he pulled me near and kissed me.

We kissed as if we were drowning. I threw my cardigan on the floor, unzipped my boots, kicked them off. Everywhere his hands touched, his mouth followed.

"Do you think we're going too fast?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "But I don't want to stop." He picked me up and carried me to his bed.

I know the difference between lust and love. I've had more than my share of sex dates in my life, dates in which I know the only thing I'm after is mutual pleasure. I knew what was happening between Yves and me in that bed was something far different. And he knew it, too. Yves had been alone for two years, had not gone on a single date since his divorce.

"I think I've won the lottery," he said.

"How did this happen?" we kept asking.

I was breathless with happiness. As the sun went down, and my stomach started to rumble, we set out for the market. We had only walked a couple of blocks when Yves made a slight change in direction.

"That's my daughter," Yves said.

We stopped in front of a stroller and the woman pushing it. The little girl clambered out. "Papa," she said, and Yves crouched down so that they could hug each other. Speaking Quebecois, she displayed her banana popsicle triumphantly.

Yves spoke to his ex-wife, and then introduced me. We said "hello" to one another, and then Yves gave his daughter a big squeeze and told her that he'd see her soon.

Yves beamed as we walked away. "Running into my daughter has made my day even more perfect," he said. "She is everything to me." He and his ex-wife had been having some issues; he had not seen his daughter for two weeks.

Earlier in the afternoon he had mentioned feeling a little off. He also said, maybe about 4 o'clock, that he had a mild headache. So it didn't seem strange to me when he asked to skip the market and head home.

We were kissing by the time we got in the front door. But I insisted that he take some Tylenol, and go lie on the bed. He did as he was told, took off his shoes, and lay down on his stomach. I wanted to make him feel better. I began to knead his shoulders and his upper back. I stroked his scalp, too, and he relaxed under my hands.

"Lorraine," he said, "I'm really sorry, but I think I want to take a nap for a while. Would that be OK with you?"

I dug around in my bag for the book of Yehuda Amichai poetry I had brought with me. He came back to bed, and he tucked his head next to mine, closed his eyes as I began to read to him. I stroked his hair, kissed the top of his head, held him as he drifted off to sleep, his legs wrapped around mine. I read for a while before dozing off beside him. That's when Yves woke me up. That's when I called the ambulance.

Yves was quiet, although he had begun to seize. His legs were shaking. Even though I knew he wasn't cold, I bundled him up in the duvet, told him that help was on the way. By then, I knew this was not a headache or a migraine; I somehow intuited it was an aneurysm. His breath was raspy and gargled, and I slowed down my breathing, hoping to set a rhythm he could imitate, as though he were a child and I was trying to teach him a hand-clap game.

Death was coming. I could sense it in the room. But I also felt something comforting, too. Something that told me that I could do this, that I could help Yves ease from this life to whatever was to follow. I had always thought I'd be a panicked mess in a moment like this, but all I felt was stillness. It was like watching a home movie of someone I recognized as me but didn't know.

I'm not sure how long it was before the medics finally arrived. Time is fluid in extraordinary circumstances. How long is a minute when someone's life is draining away? How long is an hour when you're making love? How long was the week that Yves and I knew each other?

The ambulance crew loaded Yves onto a gurney, pointed a flashlight in his eyes. I heard one of them say to the other that his pupils were fixed. I knew what that meant: Serious brain injury.

Inside the E.R. the tobacco-stained light frightened me. I was numbed out and hyper-vigilant at once, waiting for some word, any word about what was wrong with Yves. Two young interns came out and explained that Yves had been put on a respirator, that I couldn't see him. I felt Yves' apartment keys in my pocket and went home.

Alone in Yves' apartment, alone in his bed, I stripped down to my camisole and panties. I clutched his pillow to my face, smelling him there. The call came at 2:32 a.m.

"Is this Lorraine?"


"I'm afraid I have some bad news. The MRI revealed a massive brain bleed." He was slipping away. "Do you know how we may contact his family?"

Once again, I became still. How could I tell her that I didn't know Yves' family, didn't have a clue how to reach them? And then I remembered his cellphone sitting on the kitchen table. I fumbled through the address book until I found what I recognized as the name for his ex-wife. I gave it to the nurse and asked her to pass on my phone number to the family.

I lay in the bed, the light on the floor glaring up at me. The book of poetry I had read to Yves before he dropped off to sleep was beside it. I made a cocoon of the sheet from the bed, buried my head underneath it. I still felt nothing.

Shortly before 7 a.m., the phone rang again. It was Yves' ex-wife. She was at the hospital with Yves' mom, dad and best friend. She wanted me to come.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't have done more," I said over and over again, when I came to join them at the hospital. Yves' mouth was covered by a plug, and unlike the panting that I had heard coming from him before, his breaths now were normal, peaceful. His skin tone was beautiful: He was a luminous pink.

Someone gave me a hug. Told me I had done everything that could have been done. And then someone explained to me that the doctors said there was nothing to be done for Yves. That even if he were to wake up from his coma, he would be "comme un haricot." And I remembered noticing that where we say "vegetable," they say "bean."

The room emptied, and I was granted some alone time with Yves. I wanted to kiss him. But the medical-green plastic tube in his mouth blocked access. He had tubes in his arms, too, and I was afraid to touch him for fear of knocking something loose. So I leaned over the bed and I kissed his hand. It was warm. It didn't feel like cold, about-to-die flesh. It felt vibrant.

How does anyone prepare themselves for a moment such as this? What is the right thing to say to someone when it's the last thing that he'll hear from your lips?

I suppose gratitude was an odd emotion to have at that moment, but Yves had shown me something I had never before understood. Death terrifies me. And yet, as Yves lay dying, I felt privileged to be with him. I was going to miss him, the possibility of us. But I also knew that all that fear had been taken from me. He had needed me to be with him that night as much as I had needed to bear witness.

I whispered to him, "Thank you." I told him that his daughters would thrive and be loved. I told him not to be afraid. I told him, "Goodbye."

I left the room and did not return. I wanted Yves to be with his family when the respirator was turned off. I had given Yves everything that I could, and now, it was time for me to learn to live with everything he had left to me.

Lorraine Berry blogs on Open Salon as fingerlakeswanderer. She has recently completed a book-length memoir manuscript.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How we can make the world better

When I started this blog, it was right after the 2008 elections. Coupled with the emotions then, I digressed from the original purpose of the blog, which was to record my thoughts and stuff happening.
Now that I'm back to putting down thoughts going through my mind at a particular moment, it's only logical to see that this world still has a lot of fixing to do.
My intention is to spread the word about how we can be a little more kinder, more polite, nicer and in doing so, become a better human being.
Sadly, there is still a lot of hatred being stirred up by politicians and the like.
Which brings to mind this quote:

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.
- Dennis Wholey

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quote for today

Noble hearts are neither jealous NOR afriad,
because jealousy spells doubt and
fear speels pettiness.

Honore de Balzac

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Best Friends

Just picked up my dog, Brownie, from the vet. He's probably the greediest Labrador you'll ever meet.
But then again, aren't most Labs?
He had a stomach tumor removed and spent a week in the "dog" hospital.
Strange, but I actually missed him.
He's my best friend, I suppose that's why.

When I come back to a house big enough to accomodate 3 families, the only person I speak to first is Brownie.
I can tell him everything. What happened at the office etc.
And he'll look at you and think,"By George, you're right!"
So here's a story for all you dog lovers.

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?" "This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.

"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up." The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he

approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have any water?"

"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there". The man pointed to a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate. "Come on in."

"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.

"There should be a bowl by the pump."

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree waiting for them.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is Heaven," was the answer.

"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No. I can see how you might think so, but we're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll leave their best friends behind."

Friday, September 17, 2010

My favourite virtue, Patience

Hard to believe, but most people are not as patient as they believe themselves to be.
But it is the best virtue, for it surpasses the others.
Here's a quote explaining why:

Patience strengthens the spirit,
sweetens the temper,
stifles anger,
extinguishes envy,
subdues pride,
bridles the tongue.

-- George Horne

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

17 Words that Will Never Fail You


















Monday, September 13, 2010

To give or to receive?

A young man, a student in one of the universities, was one day taking a walk
with a professor, who was commonly called the student's friend for his kindness to those who waited on his instructions.

As they went along,
 saw lying in the path a pair of old shoes, which were supposed to belong to a poor man who was working in a field close by, and  who had nearly
 finished his day's work…

The student turned to the professor, saying: "Let us play the man a trick:
 we will hide his
shoes, and  hide ourselves behind those bushes, and wait to see his perplexity when he cannot find them…"

My young friend," answered the professor, "we should never amuse  ourselves at the expense of the poor… But you are rich, and may give yourself a much greater pleasure by means of this poor man. Put a coin in each shoe,
and  then we will hide ourselves and watch how this affects him."

The student did so and they both placed themselves behind the bushes close
 by. The poor man soon finished his work, and came across the field to the path where he had left his coat and shoes…

While putting on his coat he slipped his foot into one of his shoes, but feeling something hard, he
 stooped down to feel what it was, and found the coin. Astonishment and wonder were seen upon his countenance. He gazed upon the coin, turned
it  around, and looked at it again and again.

He then looked around him on all sides, but no person was to be seen.
He now  put the money into his pocket, and proceeded to put on the other shoe;
but his surprise was doubled on finding the other coin…

His feelings overcame him… he fell upon his knees, looked up to heaven and uttered aloud a
fervent thanksgiving in which he spoke of his wife, sick and helpless, and his children without bread, whom this timely bounty, from some unknown
hand,  would save from perishing…

The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears.
 "Now," said the professor, are you not much better pleased than if you had played your intended trick?"

The youth replied, "You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget…
 I feel now the truth of these words, which I never understood before: 

"It's more blessed to give than to receive."