Monday, August 20, 2018

Twenty Two


I know. I've disappeared from this social media platform for far too long. I blame it on my own stupidity: co-creating 5 kids, holding a full-time job and attempting to "have-it-all". 

Well, some things have just got to give. In my case, it's my love for writing. These days, if I do pen any posts, it's because I've carved aside some time to document something important.

I'll admit that in recent years, I've not paid much attention to the man I married because the primary focus has been on the kids. I've always assumed that the hubs will be by my side no matter what, that he'd always be here for the family.

Then on 6 May 2018, I nearly became a solo parent due to a freak carpentry accident. 

I won't go into the details of what happened. That's for another time, another entry. Snippets of the drama are captured on my IG.

Suffice to say, the incident involved rotten wood, electrical blades, a golden chain, a jade Buddha pendant, severed nerves, flesh and skin, and blood. 

Lots and lots and lots of blood. 

This was followed by an ambulance ride, an ER stint, staycation at TTSH and ongoing medical follow-ups and consultations.

Thankfully, Heaven intervened. The Hubs survived. He literally escaped the jaws of death, and I am ever-so-grateful that he's still here with us.

This episode has jolted me out of complacency and the misguided belief that the Hubs will be by my side forever more. I've come to the realisation that no matter how little time we have left for ourselves, we must cherish every waking moment or live to regret it.


Every August, we celebrate the day we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. Unfortunately, any romantic plans are usually thrown out of the window because we'll inevitably be distracted by a child-related reason. This year, we had to rush Kids 1, 4 and 5 to the doctor because, well, FEVER etc. We substituted dinner plans with takeaway pizza. Bonus: the girls got to enjoy a pizza supper.

We eventually squeezed out a few stolen hours the next day to feast on BBQ stingray, cockles and an oyster omelette at Chomp Chomp. And for dessert, we shared a slice of chocolate cake from Awfully Chocolate.

#oldfarts #partnersforlife

Back in 1996, we made the best and worst decision of our lives. And every single thing we have today - the good, bad and ugly - is the result of that one decision.

Here's to us, Hubs! And many, many more.


22 years back
An engagement was pledged
To have and to hold
To cherish and to love
To create and to build
A foundation
To weather all storms
To overcome all odds
To share tears of joy and sorrow

22 years ago
A pact was made
To reach for the stars
To acknowledge limitations
To treasure moments
A union
To last a lifetime
To recognise strengths
To accept weaknesses

22 years since
A partnership was formed
To create memories
To sacrifice pleasures for pain
To solider on in darkness and rain
A promise
To bask in each other’s laughter
To grow older and wiser together
To love till the end of our days

Teo Yuan Ching
8 August 2018

Copyright © 2018 Teo Yuan Ching

Friday, December 29, 2017

Coldplay - Everglow (Single Version) - Official Video

Some songs just rip our hearts apart and open the floodgates.

This is one of them.

And I immediately think of Dad. It's been almost 2 years since his passing, and I've picked myself up and moved on.

But every now and then, in the most unexpected moments, I'll think of him.

Missing you Dad. Very, very much.


oh they say people come, say people go
this particular diamond was extra special
and though you might be gone, and the world may not know
still I see you, celestial

like a lion you ran,  a goddess you rolled
like an eagle you circled, in perfect purple
so how come things move on, how come cars don’t slow
when it feels like the end of my world
when I should but I can’t let you go?

but when I’m cold, cold
oh when I’m cold, cold
there’s a light that you give me when I’m in shadow
there’s a feeling you give me, an everglow

like brothers in blood, sisters who ride
and we swore on that night we’d be friends til we die
but the changing of winds, and the way waters flow
life as short as the falling of snow
and now I’m gonna miss you I know

but when I’m cold, cold
in water rolled, salt
I know that you’re with me and the way you will show
and you’re with me wherever I go
and you give me this feeling this everglow

oh- I I I I
what I wouldn’t give for just a moment to hold
yeah I live for this feeling this everglow

so if you love someone, you should let them know
oh the light that you left me will everglow

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fifth Born

For En: our Unexpected, Unexplainable, Unpredictable, Unforgettable and Unique one. I truly believe she's our gift from Dad.

Number Five: En
Fifth Born

She's our Lil' Miss Unexpected
The miraculous gift that came our way
Overcoming all odds she finally appeared
On 12 February 2017 Sunday

This unpredictable darling of an Aquarian
Debuted in an unforgettable style
Determined to create a dramatic entrance
Making her existence worth the while

We love our doe-eyed Fire Rooster
Mummy, Daddy, four sisters - who's her greatest fan?
Sending our hearts to a delightful flutter
Our fifth little Leonglet - Sook Yan

Teo Yuan Ching
21 March 2017

Copyright © 2017 Teo Yuan Ching

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Happy 74th. If only.

Hey Dad

Tomorrow would have been your 74th birthday.

We'd probably have made arrangements for dinner, while the kids would have picked out your birthday cake and made you cards.

Unfortunately, we won't be doing any of these tomorrow. Or ever again.

Nobody would have thought that last year would be the last birthday we'd ever celebrate with you.

If only we knew.

Mum called earlier and she broke down. She was thinking of dinner with the kids tomorrow night but I've to attend an official school event and can't make it. She was disappointed. I think she wanted to be occupied so that she won't be missing your presence so very much.

But I intend to drop by Bright Hill Temple's Ancestral Hall after my morning lessons to visit you. Told Mum we could go for lunch instead before I head back to work. I'll call her later to confirm the arrangements.

Life for us goes on. We miss you, but we just have to march forward and put the pain aside. I have my kids and work to keep myself occupied, so it's much easier for me to solider on although I still do get emotional every once in a while.

I know it's unbearable for Mum but she is coping the best she can, and I'm proud of her efforts to keep positive. But I think you know her best, and how empty she actually feels.

Wherever you are, I hope you've settled in nicely. Do visit us whenever you can spare time from your busy schedule - of course I know you're tied up with many projects and engagements with old friends. You're not one to be twiddling your thumbs and watching clouds drift by. You were never the idler in life, so there's no way you'll be one in the afterlife.

Here's one for the memories, Dad.

Dad's 73rd (and final) Birthday celebration

Your loving daughter always

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Luther Vandross - Dance With My Father

Yesterday was Dad's 100 Day Death Anniversary.

We had a simple ceremony where prayers were chanted and there were offerings of vegetarian food and fruits. Dad would have preferred his spicy Indian dishes for sure, but we weren't allowed to bring our own food to the Ancestral Hall.

I'd dreamt of Dad again that very morning. This time, he actually asked, "Am I dead?"

Dad may be physically gone from our world but I believe he's very much alive and kicking in the spiritual realm.

Here's another song for you Dad. Very apt.

Dance with my Father

Back when I was a child
Before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high
And dance with my mother and me
And then
Spin me around 'till I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure
I was loved

If I could get another chance
Another walk
Another dance with him
I'd play a song that would never ever end
How I'd love love love
To dance with my father again

When I and my mother
Would disagree
To get my way I would run
From her to him
He'd make me laugh just to comfort me
yeah yeah
Then finally make me do
Just what my mama said
Later that night when I was asleep
He left a dollar under my sheet
Never dreamed that he
Would be gone from me

If I could steal one final glance
One final step
One final dance with him
I'd play a song that would never ever end
Cause I'd love love love to
Dance with my father again

Sometimes I'd listen outside her door
And I'd hear how mama would cry for him
I'd pray for her even more than me
I'd pray for her even more than me

I know I'm praying for much to much
But could you send her
The only man she loved
I know you don't do it usually
But Dear Lord
She's dying to dance with my father again

Every night I fall asleep
And this is all I ever dream

Sunday, June 19, 2016

42 Years. Minus Dad.

Today is Fathers' Day and coincidentally it falls on my birthday this year.

And it will be my first birthday in 42 years without Dad.

Sure, there were years Dad was away on business trips or on holidays with Mum, or I wasn't home during my birthdays. Back in 1991 when I was a Junior College student, I participated in the Pre University Seminar Singapore: The Next Lap and my birthday fell in the middle of that week long camp. I was residing at Sheares Hall, National University of Singapore, and I remember receiving a handwritten note during meal time to head over to the general office. Mum had called and asked them to relay a Happy Birthday message since they weren't able to spend my birthday with me.

Mobile phones and social media hadn't exploded on the scene in the 1990s and we relied heavily on old-school communication methods like snail mail and land-line telephones.

But this year, Dad won't even be physically present because we're no longer residing on the same realm.

Many countries around the world, including Singapore, set aside the third Sunday of June to honour Fathers. I did my own little research and discovered that the first ever Fathers' Day was celebrated on 19 June 1910. Since then, Fathers' Day has taken place on 19 June 16 times and if Dad was around, we'd have enjoyed a double celebration for the seventh time.

Fathers' Day usually takes a backseat in our household because Dad doesn't like to be fussed over. A card, simple meal and a token of appreciation would suffice. When the grandkids came along, the atmosphere livened up considerably. My super strict disciplinarian Dad transformed into a super doting Granddad and I couldn't believe he's the same man who'd insist I consume every edible morsel on my plate but waved his hands nonchalantly when my girls had leftovers on theirs - "Don't finish, never mind." 

Our last Fathers' Day meal was at The Mouth Restaurant, NEX. I'd brought along home-cooked porridge for Qi and I recall how Dad was amused by her antics at the dinner table because she was curious about our food. He had commented, "Very soon she'll be running around and joining her sisters." 

Little did we know that it would be our final Father's Day dinner with Dad.

Anyway, I'm in no mood to celebrate anything. Not when one of the duo responsible for my existence no longer exists. While I've never been close enough to Dad to openly pour out my woes and chat about frivolous matters, I think we do share an unspoken bond that's hard to describe. To me, he's a man of few words (because he speaks to me only when the need arises), and I'd get all nervous whenever we sit down for a heart-to-heart conversation. He'd always appeared cold, unfeeling, disapproving and stern, and I was accustomed to being chided for every little thing that angered him.

It's akin to being hauled up by the School Discipline Master and waiting to be admonished for something you've obviously done wrong but clueless about what that is. 

Despite our apparent lack of communication, Dad was always there when I needed advice for life-changing situations. And he always knew the right things to say that would make the most sense. Those were the times when his words would matter most.

While I've accepted his passing, the sense of loss can be overwhelming and I'm still prone to the occasional sob 'n' sniffle. Unlike my mum, aunts, daughters and even the hub, I hadn't dreamt of him since he left us in March. Initially I was rather upset. Why wasn't I able to see him in my dreams at all? Because he's still upset and disappointed in me after all these years?

I'd slowly begun to accept that maybe - just maybe - Dad really didn't think much of his only child, and that I was more an obligation, a responsibility to him. I don't think he'd ever told me or made me feel that he loved me.

Until early Friday morning when he appeared in my dreams.

I was walking towards an elevator and there he stood, with his back facing me. He was dressed in a collared short-sleeved shirt (dark blue?) and beige/cream pants. I called out "Hey Dad!".

He turned, spotted me, his eyes lit up and gave me a huge warm smile.

"Hel-lo!" Dad called out in his usual manner. I hugged him.

"How have you been, Dad?"

"Good, good!" he replied in his usual fashion.

"We miss you!"

And then I jolted out of bed. It was in the wee hours of Friday morning. I sat up for a while, unable to believe that Dad had (finally) appeared in my dreams. I took that as a positive sign, that he's happy where he is and he's acknowledged me. And for the rest of the day, I was glowing.

Dad and I exactly two decades ago as we celebrated my 22nd birthday
Yes, I may be in my 40s but I still feel like a child yearning for a parent's approval. In my mind, Dad's extremely difficult to please and we were at loggerheads (mostly during my teens) because I constantly believed he was disappointed with everything I did.

His brief appearance in my dreams couldn't have come at a better time. And it lessened the heartache a little.

He gave me an early surprise birthday present and that's definitely worth more than physical gifts.

Thanks Dad for remembering my birthday.

And thank you for being My Dad. Happy Fathers' Day.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Dad's demise: 12 weeks on

Two Friday evenings ago, I accompanied Mum to the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House for the Chemistry Alumni Appreciation Dinner. I agreed as it's been two decades since my graduation and I haven't stepped foot on campus for ages.

Mum was invited to attend the dinner because she had made a donation in memory of Dad to help with the fund raising for Study Awards. (Prior to this, I never knew Dad studied Chemistry! Well, I knew he was a Science student at the Uni but that was about it.) Dad's former Chemistry tutor-turned good friend Dr Lawrence Chia often called Dad to help gather attendees for social/alumni functions. Dr Chia shared that Dad was able to effortlessly and single-handedly round up 100+ guests - such was his influence and network.

Chemistry Alumni Appreciation Dinner at NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House
We were seated at one of the VIP tables reserved for the donors and distinguished guests such as former department Heads and professors. I felt a little out-of-sorts as the room was filed with Chemistry undergraduates, alumni and faculty members. If Mum felt awkward, she didn't show any signs of it. I suppose years of accompanying Dad for his numerous business and social functions trained her well. As for me, I never liked crowds and very much prefer to mind my own business.

Hobnobbing isn't my specialty.

I'm "Ms Teo d/o Richard Teo" because Mum didn't give them my name in time for print
Midway through the dinner, Associate Professor Chin Wee Shong, one of the key fundraisers who also attended Dad's wake, asked us to receive a token of appreciation.  Mum declined to go on stage, so I took her place. Then A/P Chin announced "I would like to invite Ms Teo to receive the token of appreciation - in memory of her father - for the Teo Cher Aik, Richard Study Award."

Surreal to see Dad's name as a "Study Award"
Glassblown gift, hand-made by the Chemistry Department
As I got up to accept the gift from Professor Richard Wong, Head of the Chemistry Department, I was overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions. It was surreal. And it reminded me of Dad's absence. 

When I returned to my seat and the lady next to me, an active Chemistry alumnus who'd been chatting with us, said, "I'm sorry. I didn't know. So sorry for your loss."

Mum, who'd been stoic throughout the evening, crumbled and let out a muffled sob. The lump on my throat formed but I reminded myself that I'd to remain calm for Mum's sake. Mum excused herself to the washroom and I was left to answer questions about Dad's illness and situation. Turns out the lady also lost her first husband to Cancer and she was left to raise her three girls alone, with her youngest only ten years old at the time of his death.

At least Dad was around to get me through the key milestones in my life.

Mum realised that the lady shared mutual friends and in an effort to cheer herself up, Mum started chatting about these acquaintances. On our way home she started talking about the classmates she'd lost touch with.

I know it's not an easy period for her at all. Dad and Mum have been married 43 years and they're always together at work, on holidays, exercising etc. The house is filled with memories, and Dad's photographs are still there to remind her of their lifetime together.

If I'm finding it tough to cope with my grief, I can't begin to imagine how Mum's taking it.

As far as I can tell, Mum is putting up a brave front. But I know that's just a facade. It's a fate that we will have to experience one day. Certainly not looking forward to that.