By Dr. Willie Ong
In the clinic, a particularly grateful old lady remarked, “Oh, what a blessing it is to have one of your kids become a doctor. Surely if I had, I would live much longer. Your parents must be very proud of you!”
One of the great pleasures of being a doctor is in taking care of your parents.
For the longest time, we have been taught to honor our father and mother. This we do, to a little or greater extent. But nothing is as clear as caring for them when they are sick.
Before my mom had a gallbladder operation, she wasn’t like her normal self. She would be quiet, pensive and reserved. Frequent bouts of abdominal pain and indigestion left her cold. And when she finally agreed to the operation, my wife and I prepared everything as best as we could.
We chose the doctors, the anesthesiologist, the room and so forth. I was there in the operating room watching over her during the surgery. I saw her face white, pale and weak. After much anxiety, how relieved I was that the operation was a success. It’s just a routine procedure really, but if it’s your mom, your perspective changes.
After the operation, she woke up and was numb all over from the anesthesia so she could not feel her legs. So she panicked thinking she was paralyzed from the waist down. So she cried out in the recovery room to the dismay of the nurses and attendants. They could not pacify her. And you know what she cried out? “Call my son. My son, he’s my doctor, Call him quick. Call him please.”
As I said, one of the best things in life is being able to care for your parents. Sometimes when your mind is clear you can visualize what they sacrificed for you. You imagine how they cuddled you when you were a baby. How they had sleepless nights when you were sick. How they woke in the early morning to fix your milk, your bag, your clothes. And how you were their source of joy and happiness.
Now I am happily married to a most wonderful wife, my soulmate. We have two daughters, Anjelica and Catherine, both nosy and noisy. Perhaps subconsciously, I am nudging them to be a doctor, just a little. I let them play with my stethoscope, teaching them to get the blood pressure, injecting saline water. Well, not really.
But what I mean is that wouldn’t it be nice if there was another doctor in the family, any family? Perhaps we could have a lawyer, a businessman, an accountant and an artist, too. Wouldn’t it make a nice, warm and strong family, ready for anything?
Now my mom is in her 70’s and my dad is in his 80’s. With constant care and daily checks, we pray they would be with us for a long long time. I heard they aim for 120 years now in Japan.
But after being sort of the black sheep in the family, I thank God that my mind is a bit more mature now. Just a bit. Just enough to understand their sacrifices for me and how I wish I could have understood much earlier.
I know many of you reading this have arguments and misunderstandings with your parents or your brother or sister. That’s normal. That’s life.
But seeing my sick mother in her hospital bed, all the pettiness and all the misunderstandings fade away. So what if you’re not the favorite child, if you did not get your fair share. So what if they had said a hurtful word. We all make mistakes. I do. We all do.
Parents are parents. Looking at my daughters now, I know that fathers and mothers only want the best, the very best for their children. No questions asked. Their method may be faulty because they’re only human. But the intention is pure, selfless and heavenly.
Now, I have decided to spend the next years of my life caring, loving and glorifying the name of my parents. While I still can. While you still can. And though I’m still far from being the ideal son, I can try to be just that.
In the anonymity of this article, I can only write that I love them for who they are. I love them with my imperfect kind of love.
And I know that God will listen to my prayers and will keep them safe and warm for now and for always.