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Preserving Moments of Love: Terminal Patient Celebrates Golden Wedding Anniversary with Wife

An elderly terminal patient had a wish to have his 50th wedding anniversary photos taken in advance, as he was not sure if he could live for another two years to celebrate the special occasion with his wife. And we heard his wish…

SG20180710 MEA PRP 095In sickness and in health: the elderly couple has been married for close to 50 years. (Photo by Pang Lun Peng)

On 10 July 2018, what concerned us the most was the wedding anniversary photo shooting session for an elderly Tzu Chi beneficiary named Chua Lye Hock. The photo session was held at Chua’s 3-room HDB flat. Besides preparing for the photo shooting session, we were tasked to interview the couple and report on the activity as well. Every one of us hoped that this special photo session would leave a beautiful memory for the old couple.

Four days before, I interviewed Chua for the first time. On that day, a nurse from the Tzu Chi Home Palliative Care team, Nancy Tan, brought Chua his favourite food – durian. Chua, who is suffering from terminal lung failure, started receiving nursing care from the Palliative Care team in January the year before, and Nancy has since been visiting him weekly.

During the interview on that day, Chua revealed his wish to have photos taken of his Golden wedding anniversary. And we were very touched to learn that the frail elderly man still had this wish despite being tormented by his illness. Perhaps, he knew that he might not live till his 50th wedding anniversary, which is two years later. We took note of his wish and hoped to help him fulfill it.

After the visit, we had a discussion with our videography staff, Jacob Chua, who had previously worked as a wedding photographer. After learning about our idea, Jacob not only agreed to be the photographer for the elderly couple, but he even borrowed the wedding attires from the bridal studio where his wife, Kelly Chan, works as a makeup artist.

Kelly specially made time to help dress up the old couple on the day of the photography session. 

“He is really very thin! He wears Size XS pants!” remarked Kelly, who couldn’t contain her surprise, despite being the one who selected the wedding attires for Mr. and Mrs. Chua, based on photos of the couple taken by a smartphone.

Kelly had originally intended to spend her off day visiting her mother in Tangkak, Malaysia. However, after learning about this mission, she postponed her trip back home in order to help out. 

“Mr. Chua, look over here… Oh you just blinked! One more shot! 1, 2, 3…. Smile!” said Jacob, patiently guiding the elderly couple as he captured joyful moments of the love they share with each other.

Standing next to Chua were Dr. Ho Xin Qin, Nancy Tan, and a Tzu Chi volunteer, Foo See Long, who did their best to create a fun and relaxing atmosphere to help assuage the wedded couple’s anxiety, as they posed in front of the camera.   

Nancy was so delighted that she started singing a popular Mandarin oldie by  Teresa Teng, creating a lively and heart-warming atmosphere. The elderly Chua appeared rather calm and composed throughout the session, and did not reveal too much of his emotions. He merely said, “thank you all for helping me” in a quiet voice, as we bade him goodbye.

The wedding anniversary photography session did not include any extravagant setting, expensive gowns or heavy make-ups. And all we hoped to do was to fulfill the final wish of an elderly patient.

Perhaps, Chua may not be able to make it for his actual Golden wedding anniversary two years later, but we are sure that every moment on this day will remain as fond memories in his heart.

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Kelly doing makeup for Chua’s wife, Mdm. Mook Hiam Huay  (Photo by Jacob Chua)

SG20180710 MEA CZZ 008While waiting for his wife to be dressed up, Tzu Chi volunteers and medical staff chat happily with Chua. Despite wearing a nasal tube and having difficulty speaking, his mind remains clear and is able to respond candidly. (Photo by Jacob Chua)

SG20180710 MEA PRP 032It is Chua’s turn to put on his Chinese tunic suit. (Photo by Pang Lun Peng)

SG20180710 MEA PRP 042Staff and volunteers transforming the tiny living room into a photo studio (Photo by Pang Lun Peng)

SG20180710 MEA PRP 091Photographer Jacob taking photos of the couple (Photo by Pang Lun Peng)
SG20180710 MEA PRP 081Makeup artist Kelly guiding Mr Chua and Mrs Chua to pose for their photo (Photo by Pang Lun Peng )

SG20180710 MEA CZZ 027Revisiting the wedding photos taken decades ago brings back many precious memories to the old couple, who have faithfully served each other for close to 50 years. (Photo by Jacob Chua)

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Photo by Jacob Chua

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