The Chinese lady, Doreen, asked me if my mother could make frequent visit to her church, where she volunteers, which is just behind my mother's block. She pitied Mariam who's now the only Malay, most of the time, for her mornings gathering since her husband's leg was amputated. There's nothing to fear, she said. Halal food is ordered from nearby stalls if any Muslims are around.
Mariam and her husband used to drop by the church daily around 10am where they have their breakfast, mingled with nearby elderly residents, mostly Chinese, who have their daily breakfast there too, engaging in talks, karaoke or games and leave after lunch, around 2pm.
"We must make our elders active and engaging." Doreen said enthusiastically.
Well, that's not my mother's kind of life. She likes being alone with visits from children, grand-children, friends and relatives. Although bell is ringing loud that the elderly should not be staying alone, she's not bothered at all. She has books - Many, many books as companion. She completed the Quran, too, every few weeks.
Time and again my nephew, a medic, would relate to her how he encountered numerous lonely elderly's deaths island-wide - She insisted she's all well.
Work fatigue is a blessing in disguise for Doreen. She realised many things are missing in her life. She may have her condo and going to work in power-suits but she did not want to leave this world on her director's chair without enjoying the fruit of her labour and sharing it with others.
She took a long leave searching her soul that was long lost in the corporate world. She came back as a new Doreen, highly spirited.
She said her opportunity to fine her Mr Right had sailed away. She missed the relationship-boat due to work commitment that had rob away her eligible age.
She sold her condo to stay with her brother, give a helping hand to look after her cousins in order to be near to children and is now a church volunteer organising events for those elderly, in repayment of being too tied up with work when her parents needed her most during their old age and worst still, she's not there on their death-bed.
That's the regret in her life that she will always bear on her shoulder.