I love being your Mum

I love being your Mum

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Capt Ghani Ishak, 2 Jun 1947-21 Mar 2011

Capt Ghani Ishak 2 June 1947 - 21 March 2011

It will be two weeks tomorrow. I can't even say if it feels like yesterday, or if it feels like forever. It's a day that I somehow knew at the back of my head would one day come. But the 21 March 2011 was not supposed to have been that day.

Ghani has had a heart condition for as long as I have known him. He was on his 3rd pacemaker and it had a good 3 years left on it, before it was due for replacement. He had an enlarged heart (or he was big hearted, as he would say), a leaky valve, low platelets and an enlarged spleen, amongst other things. He also survived a stroke which he suffered in Norway, in 2008, 3 months into our travels. The stroke left him completely paralyzed on his right, but the medics in Bodo, some 200km north of the Arctic Circle got him talking in 6 hours and moving in 9 hours. 2 weeks later we were back on the road, and a month and a half later, Ghani himself was driving us from London to Cape Town.

That Monday morning, Ghani woke early, around 4-5am, mumbled something about football and board paper and stumbled out of bed. I awoke at 7.30am, heard footie on the tv and lazed around in the room till Adrian awoke at 8.30am. As I tidied up the bed, I heard Adrian's voice in the living room and the next thing I knew Adrian came barging into our room saying, 'Mum, there's something wrong with Dad'.

Ghani was sat upright in his favourite spot on our brown sofa, an empty glass of water next to him, and an empty jar of 'rempeyek' (a local savoury snack which was his favourite) in front of him. The jar had been half full. He had his reading glasses on, his board papers for his 10am meeting were on his lap and his pen was still in his hand. It seems that Ghani had suffered a massive heart attack some two hours before. So massive that he didn't even know what hit him.

In accordance to Muslim rites, the burial took place the same day. Everything that happened after the time Adrian and I sat with him on our sofa for about 10 minutes, hugging him for the last time, before the paramedics and family and friends started arriving became one fuzzy, surreal experience. At 8.30am, we were sat with Ghani on the sofa and at 2.30pm, Ghani was laid to rest. There were hundreds of people paying their last respects to this wonderful man at the Bukit Damansara Mosque, where he was prepared for burial and lay in state, before Adrian and I accompanied him on our last journey together, in the back of the hearse to the Kiara Muslim Burial Ground.

Family and friends have helped us get through these past 14 days. Mum is now with us and will be with us till we get our feet back on the ground. So many have reached out to us and we are ever so grateful and humbled by the outpouring of care, love and concern. And the prayers.

Ghani was hugely respected and very much loved for the person he was. He touched many lives during his teenage years at HMS Conway; at sea as a Master Mariner; when he was at MISC practicing ship management and human resource and in the oil and gas industry; as a biker; a law student and a barrister at law; as a traveller; a neighbour; through his outreach work with Orang Asli communities in Malaysia and most of all, as a friend.

We spent 17 years together, 12 of them as husband and wife, with Adrian making us complete in 2004. Ghani was my 'confinement man' after Adrian was born in London, and he probably spent more time with Adrian in his 6.5 years, than many of us spend with our fathers in a lifetime.

What gives us the strength to let go of Ghani is the fact that he left us in the most dignified, painless way, with no suffering, no hospitals, no tubes and no needles. He ate the foods he loved, right up to the last minute and did all the things he wanted to. Most of all, he left with Adrian and I knowing without a single doubt, that he loved us.

Ghani's favourite song had always been Frank Sinatra's My Way. I last heard him sing it at my Godpa's 80th birthday celebrations in Penang on 12 March 2011. When I reflect on the lyrics now, they truly speak of Ghani's life and how he lived it - His Way!

And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets I've had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes it was my way