Friday, 7 September 2012

Remembering the one who has gone before us

Around this time 14 years ago, my mother-in-law passed away. She had been staying with us for some time. She was not in the best of health at the time, having suffered a stroke that paralyzed one side of her body and made her speech incoherent. She was also surviving with the aid of a heart pacemaker, which at the time of her stroke, was already at the end of its service and due for replacement.

Despite all the setbacks, my mother-in-law took her situation with all the patience she could muster. She hardly whined or complained. Redha is the Malay word for it.

I still remember the last few days before she left us. I was working at a construction project in Negeri Sembilan at that time, but was at home in Johor Bahru for the Hari Merdeka holiday. That evening, my wife noted that her mother was in severe pain and asked me to take her to the nearby clinic. I helped my MIL into a wheelchair and pushed her to my car. We drove to the clinic located about 10 minutes away. Dr. Ismail whom we personally know, took one look at my MIL and immediately advised us to go to the hospital. We drove straight to Hospital Tun Aminah and my MIL was admitted.

After the admission process was done with, I had a feeling that this could be the time. I told my wife to call her father (who was living alone at the kampung house) and one of her elder brothers. This elder brother would then be tasked to inform the other siblings, most of whom were staying in the Klang valley.

The next day, my father-in-law arrived from Mersing. Some of my other in-laws also arrived on the same day and many relatives came on the next. But by that time, my MIL was no longer conscious. She passed away early morning on her third day in hospital. She is now buried at the At-Tahiriyyah muslim cemetery in Kg Sri Pantai, Mersing.

Every year during Aidilfitri, usually on the 2nd or 3rd day of hari raya, the family would gather at her grave to recite the surah Yaasin and pray to the Almighty to pardon her sins. Actually, this practice of gathering at the cemetery at Aidilfitri is not a religious command but rather a cultural one. Many Muslim scholars have debated on this issue but it is not my intention to elaborate about it in this post. I am not against it because it is perhaps the only one time of the year where most of the family members can gather at the same place. While the original intention is for us to remember the dead, I believe it also helps to foster closer relations among those still living.

On my own side of the family, this ritual is not practiced. My mother has never brought us visit her father's or mother's grave during our hari raya trips back to her kampung. But one of these days, I would like to bring her to visit my grandparents' resting place because I have fond memories of them, especially during those happy days of hari raya where we would spend at the old kampung house together with so many of our cousins.

I was wondering the other day, if my youngest son has any memory of his late grandmother, because he was only 3 years-old at the time. My wife says that he has... which sort of surprised me a bit at first, since I myself can't recall anything from that age. But I guess it is possible for my son because my MIL was living with us for a few years.

My late mother-in-law, Hajah Sapiah Bt. Mohamad, passed away on 3rd September 1998. On the same date this year, one of our nieces gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The new baby is the 20th great-grandchild in the family.

Prayers for our mother at this year's gathering


HLiza said...

I read somewhere that one of the things that will soften a heart (especially the tough ones) is visiting graveyards..remembering the dead. Sounds like your MIL was well-taken care of till her last days..she is so blessed for having you guys. Al-fatihah to her.

Oldstock said...


Thank you. I guess now we can say that my wife was privileged to care for her mother until the end. But I do not deny that is was something quite tough to do at the time. Al-fatihah.