Parting


I brought my car to the tire shop this morning for the tires to be rotated. The boss, a man in his early 50s who had always greeted me quite loudly and cheerfully, looked like a shell of his former self. When we got to talking later, I remarked that he had lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw him.

“Yeah, I suffered two strokes just before the Chinese New Year (followed by several Chinese foul expletives)”, he said with eyes that told me he was much traumatized by his sudden unexpected turn of ill-health. He attributed the strokes to his fondness for eating peanuts and the ‘bishop’s nose’ part of a chicken. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the more likely cause was his habit of chain-smoking.

Thankfully he had almost fully regained the function of the affected parts of his body. That served as a wake up call for him. He gave up eating peanuts and chicken butts! And he quit smoking for good!

Another event that followed shook him profoundly. One of his best friends died a couple of weeks ago. He had hypertension and refused to take his medications, despite the constant nagging from his wife. One day, he just collapsed and never woke up from a coma. An artery in his brain had burst. The neurosurgeon said not much could be done surgically. Instead they suggested aiding his respiration using a machine and wait. The outcome was grim. If he survived, he would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life and will be fully dependent on carers for his every need.

The wife, knowing how bad the situation was, did something which left-behind-loved-ones should never have to do. She leaned over to the ear of her vegetative husband, whispered “I am letting you go” and removed the oxygen mask from her husband’s face.

He slipped away.

This affected the tire shop owner deeply. He choked and quickly manned-up when he told me the story. He vowed to take better care of his body, quit smoking for good and eat healthily. He also vowed to do more charity work. (However, he said he will continue to work as before – he’s a workaholic, he admitted).

I’m glad for him. I told him so, gave him a firm pat on the back and wished him before I drove off.

The story affected me profoundly too. And despite the heat and the haze, my heart swelled with thanksgiving. My life is blessed and it is good.