Friday, February 11, 2005

Gai Hoy Sui, 1939-2005

My father-in-law died yesterday morning at home in San Jose, surrounded by family members who has gathered at his bedside for his last moments on earth. He had slipped into a coma earlier that day, and was barely breathing when my wife Jenny arrived that morning around 9AM. It was before the nurse had arrived for the day, so Jenny put her hand on his neck and could discern only a faint pulse. According to Jenny, he appeared to be at peace when she touched him for the last time. When the nurse arrived shortly thereafter, she checked for his vital signs but could find none.

The previous day, he had been alert but clearly weakened by the cancer and punishing treatments of the past months. Even so, he made the effort to blow kisses towards his grandson Russell and touch his cheeks as Russell kissed his hand. When presented with his youngest grandson Punky, my father-in-law smiled at him and remarked that he "would miss him very much" and was sorry that he had so little time to spend with him. As always, Punky was clearly delighted to see his grandfather, grinning from ear-to-ear and flailing his arms with excitement. Understanding that his time was short, he then bequeathed to Jenny a jade necklace that he had worn for the past few years.

As she changed him for the final time that night, my mother-in-law noted that he was still in pain but that his reactions seemed to have been muted. The next morning, as if by fate, most of the extended Sui family had made the trek to San Jose to bid him farewell. Even though his last days were beset with pain, his last hours were filled with love and respect as the family said their final goodbyes to him.


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