Back when it was still the two of us, whenever my husband’s friends and family came over, I served tea and sandwiches. Sometimes we even took special orders to make their favourite hot butter cake or my husband’s mutton curry special. He would tell them as we gathered for tea break, “My wife makes very beautiful tea. Special tea.”
The first sign of illness was when his left leg started to swell. He went for a medical check-up one morning and did not call home till 4pm; that was when he told me he had been admitted to hospital. February ’12, he was first diagnosed with 4th stage cancer.
On 8th November ’13, Friday, he left.
After 32 years of marriage, he was suddenly gone. It pained me to do things that reminded me of him. When my niece offered to have me stay with her, I rejected her offer. I wanted to be alone. I stopped baking, cooking, everything we used to do together.
At about June this year, one of my friends told me of a handicraft course which was conducted under Bethesda Care & Counselling Services Centre (BCCSC). She told me it was a 9 weeks course on mosaic making. I was reluctant, and did not want to join. Since my husband had passed away, being alone was the norm for me.
My friend was persistent. She told me it was time to come out, join a group. 5 weeks after the mosaic handicraft course had started, I told her I would give it a try.
The lady in charge of Active Ageing handicraft program, Esther made a vacancy for me, and grudgingly, I made my way to the Centre for the Friday session. After that first class, handicraft sessions became a weekly affair for me. Even after the mosaic course ended, I continued to attend their weekly beads session.
Working with my hands once more made me feel alive. The people there were extremely kind. They were unusual. They would put down their own knitting to help me; help me unpick and even redo. They were patient with me and sacrificed their own time to teach me.
One afternoon, I overheard some of the ladies mention the tea we had for tea break was not nice. It struck me that I could serve them some of my special tea. Amazingly, the thought did not seem as unbearable as before, to make the food that my husband and I used to enjoy together.
I recalled, back when it was still the two of us, my husband had told me, “Anna, sometimes when there is people conflict, don’t draw a line. Be good to them. Sometimes more comes out of it.” Never cut people off.
Anna (not her real name) is currently one of the elderly who regularly comes for our Friday handicraft sessions under Bethesda Care & Counselling Services Centre (BCCSC)’s elderly services active ageing program. Since the first time she made us teh ci and sandwiches, she occasionally brings some of her homemade cakes and cookies to share.