“Dear, the Tzu Chi sisters are here to visit you,” Mrs Sing whispered in her husband’s ear.
“Mr Sing, we are here to see you,” the volunteers too announced their arrival by extending their hands to comfort the weak patient whose eyes were covered with gauzes.
He was not responding to both his wife and the volunteers. His body felt cold; an oxygen tube ran through his nose and he was panting heavily.
Looking at her dying husband, tears welled up in Mrs Sing’s eyes. The volunteers tried to console her and invited her to chant Buddha’s name together with them. Meanwhile, a volunteer whispered in her husband’s ears, “Please don’t worry, Mr Sing. Chant the Buddha’s name with us” as she folded his hands and put them on his abdomen.
Namo Amithaba, Namo Amithaba…
With the prayers resonating softly within the small space surrounded by curtain, Mr Sing began to breathe calmly and slowly…
“I have no family in Singapore. I wouldn’t know what to do were it not for all of you,” said an emotional Mrs Sing. “I am glad that Tzu Chi is with me now.”
On 14 Jun 2011 after 2pm, Mr Sing passed away peacefully at the age of 71.
Hailing from China, Mr Sing came alone to Singapore when he was young and met his Thai Chinese wife who is 24 years his junior while he was doing business in Thailand. The couple has been married for 12 years with no children. They only had each other to depend upon in Singapore.
In 2009, Mr Sing was diagnosed with end stage renal failure and dialysis treatment was necessary to save his life. But the man had declined to receive treatment as he couldn’t afford the hefty medical bill. He even thought of taking his own life, until Tzu Chi discovered his plight and offered to provide subsidy for his medical bills.
Touched by the sincere advice and encouragement of the volunteers who visited him every month, Mr Sing agreed to receive dialysis treatment and gradually rebuilt his confidence in life. He even started exercising and taking meatless meals hoping that could help cure his illness.
Seeing that the disabled Mr Sing had no bedstead and had to sleep on the floor, the volunteers helped tidy up his cluttered house and provided him with a bed frame and mattress which greatly improved his living condition.
Although the National Kidney Foundation later provided him with a subsidy for his treatment, his condition remained ill and deprived that Tzu Chi still decided to chip in with a subsistence allowance and accompanied him till the last moments of his life.
While her husband was severely hit by sickness and poverty, Mrs Sing stood by Mr Sing and took good care of him without giving up hope. Upon getting to know the Tzu Chi volunteers, Mrs Sing has been regarding them as her own family members and a shoulder she can rely on.
In the early morning of 13 Jun, Mr Sing suddenly felt unwell and was sent to the hospital by an ambulance for emergency treatment. He was admitted to the intensive care unit but even that failed to change his condition. He was eventually transferred to a normal ward and the doctor asked Mrs Sing to prepare for the worst.
Upon receiving news from Mrs Sing, Tzu Chi volunteers headed to the hospital to visit Mr Sing. A helpless and fearful Mrs Sing expressed her wish that Tzu Chi could help to arrange her husband’s funeral.
After Mr Sing passed away, Tzu Chi volunteers organized a chanting session and funeral for him. They also carried out his last wish of conducting a sea burial ceremony after his cremation.
Amidst the chanting of the Buddha’s name, Mrs Sing sprinkled her husband’s ashes together with the flowers into the sea. The flowers were carried far away by the waves…
“Dear, leave with your peace of mind. I have these sisters from Tzu Chi to keep me company.” Gazing at the trail left by the boat, Mrs Sing bade farewell to her only kin in Singapore with teary eyes.
Upon return from the sea burial, the volunteers accompanied Mrs Sing to Jing Si Hall and explained to her about Tzu Chi’s work with posters on the display panels.
Touched by the kind assistance extended to her, Mrs Sing said to the volunteers: “I have no family here. You have helped me with many things and I am thankful for that. Starting from now, I want to join Tzu Chi in Singapore and help others.”
Holding the Tzu Chi bimonthly magazine in her hands, Mrs Sing said that she intends to help out at the dialysis centre which treated her late husband and introduce Tzu Chi to the patients there. She also took a vow to go on a vegetarian diet for 49 days so as to transfer the karmic merits to her husband.
But before Mrs Sing could start volunteering, she will have to sort out her residence issue. She has not had any luck getting her permanent residence qualification since moving to Singapore. Now that she faces an immediate immigration problem, Sister Ong Lay Kuan, who has been caring for the family all along, said, “We hope that she can find a job and her employer should then be able to help her apply for a work permit, allowing her to stay in Singapore.”
Though not certain of her future, Mrs Sing is undaunted. She firmly believes that be it in Singapore or Thailand, Tzu Chi people will always be by her side, giving her courage to face the future.