Variegated Weekend


Tress and I caught up with Jason and Mel on Friday night. We used to do that every now and then – just having dinner and chatting to unwind and end the week. Obviously, we hadn’t done that for a little while. They still sounded apprehensive about going out for meals however, so the next catch up would probably not happen for a little while again.

Dining out these days are a little stifled – we had to leave the restaurant by 7.15pm, but that meant we were home well in time for the footy. The Collingwood and Essendon game was on but I struggled to stay interested. Games feel like they’re boring these days, and yesterday, when I was doing some cooking, the Geelong v Melbourne game sounded that way too. I was following last night’s Hawks v North Melbourne game on the iPad and it felt that way too. I was wondering if the restarted season lacked something or was it me… and then this morning, Clarko said the game needed to be opened up. He said tackles aren’t paid anymore and I realised that too. So it wasn’t me. I hope footy, like life before this horrible virus, returns to less stifled experiences.

We went and got pies for lunch on Sat – Tress had a satay chicken one and I had a good old chunky meat one. They were very satisfying. We didn’t just go there for lunch however – we had wanted to takeaway some frozen ones for a getaway, which we did. Later that arvo, we did some grocery shopping and then did some weeding. Swathes of clove weed had taken over large patches of the front yard on the eastern side, and we – Tress mainly – got busy and attacked the task.

Sunday was the usual St Alf’s online service, and then pottering around the house before going out to get some lunch. We decided on a little Malaysian place in Donvale and while we were there, someone at the next table had a chat with the owner of the joint, about getting legal service. They talked about costs and I suggested to them about getting a Law Institute referral that’d save them a few dollars. The customer looked like he was alone, looked a little lost and didn’t speak English. Tress and I wondered if his legal issues were immigration in nature.

Later in the evening, we exchanged some WhatsApp messages with Kiddo. She and Mic looked like they had haircuts, just as Tress did over the weekend. Earlier in the day, Isaac had his picture taken and sent to us by Daniel, showing a new hairdo. Must have been a designated haircut weekend of sorts… maybe life has returned to normal in some ways.

Victoria has become a pariah state. It has recorded 4-5 consecutive days of spikes in numbers of virus infections, with each day a higher number than the preceding one. A big hole appears to be unchecked quarantine for those who were infected. They breached quarantine and went on to infect others. I don’t know why people do that. Maybe they thought they knew better. It’s so hard to have these conversations now. Especially if these quarantine breakers are of diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds. With the George Floyd incident still exploding across the world, it feels like it is so hard to just look at what actually happened and ask reasonable questions, without being an x-hater of sorts. A la China and its reaction to Australia’s asking for an inquiry. Australia simply suggested an inquiry, which is not an unreasonable suggestion given how much our lives have been tossed and turned around. China had then reacted with threats of economic sanctions of sorts, and have actually proceeded with that. One can no longer take things at face value and ask reasonable questions, it appears. Not without being a hater of some sort.

Back to office (for a day) and anniversary discovery


I went into the office last Friday, for the first time in about 3 months. There was a bunch of statutory documents that my bosses needed to sign and I had to witness their signatures. I had witnessed signatures during the lock down period over video conferencing but this time, there were 2 signatories and there were a few to be signed and witnessed and the logistics involved would require too many hoops to be jumped through. Going in would make it easier for several people and I also thought it would be good to go in to sort of refresh stuff a little bit.

I was also in a bit of a upbeat mode as the Hawks had trounced the reigning premiers (Tigers) the night before. It was the second game from when the virus plagued season restarted, and we had started disastrously by losing to a “not that good” side in Geelong. Clarkson had made that quoted statement in a press conference after that game, saying Hawks were just terribly poor to have lost that game. We certainly made up for it in spades in that game on Thursday night.

I drove to the office, as public transport is still a no-go zone for me, and got in a bit after 8am. It felt strange in various ways. Most strange of all is how grateful I am now, to be able to work without this commute into the office. I used to prefer working in the office, but the past 3 months has, I think, altered my preference – particularly as it took me well over an hour for the drive back later that day.

Later that night, we went to our local shopping centre/mall for dinner. The top floor is a dining and entertainment floor and we had been there often, for dinner or to catch a movie. The mall is only less than a click from our home so it’s a no brainer.

Saturday was Tress and my wedding anniversary, so after a day of cleaning the house, we went to a local Vietnamese joint for dinner (in the same mall), to celebrate the occasion. The restaurant was very good – far better than the last time we went there which was soon after it opened. There was a fresh menu and the service was very good, so we decided it would be a local favourite.

We promptly returned to the same Vietnamese restaurant the next day, after doing the St Alf’s online service. We had also then gone to Ringwood as I had wanted to get a new pair of trainers for my extended daily walks. I had, since the lock down, done a daily lunch time neighbourhood walk that took 45-50 minutes, and over about 5 1/2 km. That is still no where near the daily 8km I used to run but a walk that is close to an hour had caused my toes to bruise and I realised I hadn’t gotten proper training shoes for a little while now. I found a relatively cheap pair (under a hundred bucks) and Tress found a really nice deal too in a different shop so we both got much needed trainers to look ahead.

I spent the rest of the arvo doing our usual cook, including for the little guy, and it was a grey and rainy day, which didn’t help recollection of Sim’s passing over a week ago now. I had also been looking at an MX5 and had gone to look at one several weeks ago. The owner had texted me on Friday and I had mulled over a response. I finally did when we were at lunch at the Vietnamese place, to say I’m not presently considering it anymore. Later, I exchanged WhatsApp messages with my brother and we alluded to how we missed Sim. I guess she will remain in our hearts and minds for some time yet.

Goodbye my little sister. Goodbye, Sim.


A couple of weeks ago, we went across town for a personal errand type of visit. When we came back, I had a message from my brother. He said our sister, Sim, had taken a turn for the worse. Very soon thereafter, it became clear Sim was on the very final leg of her journey.

Tears flowed. Intermittently. Sometimes they trickled, At other times, they gushed.

For the last two weeks, we have been on a sort of vigil. I had been on video chats with her, and the family has had video conferencing prayers with her. Each time, I fought back the tears. There was serious risk of a breach of that sorry fort/dyke that would see more gush than trickle.

This morning, my brother messaged me again. We then talked briefly on the phone. I said to Tress it would be hours, maybe a day or two at the most, before Sim made her away ahead of us. Tears welled up inside me, and I kept busy with stuff, to stick a finger in that dyke to stem the flow, a la the little brave dutch kid. I hate tears.

Shortly before 1pm (here in Melbourne), my brother messaged me again. Sim has gone ahead of us. She had stolen a march on us, to claim that new body that we’re promised. That is so unlike her.

Sim would never steal a march on any one of us of her three siblings. She is a giver, never a taker. How the world can learn from her in that regard. But in this quest to claim that new body, she’s gone one up on us.

I wasn’t able to keep playing the role of that brave little dutch boy. The dyke was breached, and the tears flowed. I cried. I wept. I loved her. I had prayed for a miracle. I had said to colleagues in passing, that like ScoMo, I too believed in miracles. I asked for one for Sim. Because, if anyone deserved a miracle, Sim did.

I don’t know which of my three other siblings is the best person (I know I’d come last in that race) My brother is a terrific person, and Mei my other sister is a gem too. But I’d give Sim the shortest odd. Actually she’d win that one hands down. Tress certainly thinks so. Sim, you’re the best person among the four of us. You’re also up there as one of the best persons I know. Like I said, you’re a giver.

Sim, you seemed to have always said the right things. A lot. It always sounded good when you say it. You say good things about others all the time. And, I think it sounds so good all the time because it always sounded like you meant it. You’re so kind, and generous that way.

Sim, I never told you this but I wished I was more like you. That’s so hard because you’re way up there as one of the best persons I had ever known.

Those tears. They’re flowing again now. They’re like the rain in Melbourne not too long ago. That rain didn’t stop for a while. The tears, like them rain, made things feel dark and cold and hopeless. Those tears. They keep coming. It doesn’t help that I cannot be on my way to be there for your final terrestrial journey. Damned virus.

Sim, you stole a march on us. But our Lord said we’d catch up. I hope by the time I do, I’d be as good a person as you have been. I love you my little sister. Goodbye for now.

Long weekend, restrictions easing


After nearly 3 months of having our lives tossed around, we finally started to creep out for some normality, over this past long weekend. My thoughts about the monarchy are a little bit schizophrenic but at times like this, I’m glad we get to celebrate the Queen’s birthday and have a long weekend.

We went to Alex and Li Har’s on Friday night and caught up with them over dinner. They had Gerry & Jesslyn (and their two girls) and Jason and Mel along so it was really nice. Li Har’s mum had passed away a few days earlier and we weren’t sure if Li Har would be up for a catch up but she said she’d like to see us and I was very happy we could all catch up. It was our first social get together since the pandemic shutdown happened so it was a little bit special.

On Saturday, we slept in, and cleaned the house again before heading out for lunch at the local shopping centre. Cafes and restaurants had started up again, with limited seating, and it felt like normality has returned, in some ways. We went to a Chinese hot pot place, as Tress wanted some soupy stuff to stave off the cold, presumably. Later that arvo we took the little guy for a walk.

On Sunday we did our usual St Alf online thing after which we pottered around the house while we waited to do a video conference call with Sim. My brother, his wife and our mum were to leave Penang later that day, having spent a week with Sim up there. I was very grateful to have been able to see and talk to Sim and everyone again, and not for the first time, I found myself being appreciative for the serendipitous aspect of the pandemic. Zoom calls have become so normal and I have been able to see and speak with her and the family much more easily as a result. After that call, we had wanted to return to the hot pot place again but there was a long line waiting to get in so we got some roti from across the street instead. We then did some grocery shopping before returning home to take the little guy for a walk again.

Later that night we settled down to watch the Master Chef TV show and that led us to look for a pie joint the next day. We drove eastward, found a well known pie shop in Boronia, and then took a drive through Mount Dandenong before returning to Boronia for a pie lunch. We then went home, took the guy for a walk, and I then did some cooking for the week’s lunches. Tress and I had also teed up a getaway in several weeks, together with Kiddo and Mic. I’m really looking forward to that.

Vigil 2


I drifted off to sleep last night, having shed a few more tears. I had just read a few messages from my brother who is in Penang with Sim.

I wonder why it is, that we only expressed our deepest feelings at the most dire moments. Earlier this arvo, I had a WhatsApp video call with Sim. I told her I loved her. She is my beautiful sister and I said to her, that I wished I could have given her a hug. My brother did that for me.

When I woke a little after 4am this morning, I found myself shedding a tear again. Just as I did after that video call. I really wished there wasn’t this damned pandemic that is preventing me from jumping on a plane to go see my sister again.

Vigil


It feels like storms have surged around me. Or they’e just out there, wreaking damage on lives of many. What has transpired in the US, has been quite horrible. A man, George Floyd, was so badly treated by a member of the local police force that he died. A policeman has been charged for a “third degree” murder. George Floyd’s death has lit a fire that has spread widely and quickly. Dozens of cities in the US are now plagued with riots, looting and uprising.

On the home front, we received a call from my brother on Saturday afternoon. We were told that our sister Sim, who had been in the hospital for breathing difficulties, has been asked to go home. That sounded ominous and the implications of a cancer patient being told to go home was like a bolt of electric shock through me, that burst open the tear glands. I asked my brother what the prognosis was, as I wanted to explore the possibility of seeing Sim again. The virus has of course, stopped non essential international travel for several months now. Travel can still happen but it is bogged down with quarantine at every turn, so that a trip to Penang would entail a period of at least 28 days where I would be locked away somewhere. It was very frustrating.

We spent the rest of the weekend in a bit of a haze. The fog has not quite lifted as yet, but the week ahead will be busy none the less. Maybe it would do me good to focus on the busy work week ahead. It would take my thoughts away from dwelling on the sadness that otherwise eats away.

Yesterday, I received a photo that my brother sent me. Sim and him were together in the hospital. She had a smile of peace and strength that belies the circumstances. He looked tired but grateful to be there. He tells me Daniel, Sim’s husband, has been overwhelmed but the kids appear to be strong. My brother is there in Penang with them, along with Jean his wife and mum. I tried to call my mum on Saturday but couldn’t get through. I don’t know what I would have said if I did. Sometimes just talking – irrespective of what is being talked about – is enough, I guess.

I am still hopeful there will be time yet for me to see Sim again. I am very grateful Tress and I made a trip to Penang last November but I hope to see her again. That would be such a gift.