Some are lucky
Some people are lucky. There is no point in denying.
Arguably, my job has been cushy since the unsettling micro re-org that put me onto a team that did not seem to well align with my interest. And yet, there came Covid — something I stopped joking about until it became “viral”. Things slowed way down. My 11–to-6 job (11-to-8 if you count gym and dinner) became uh… the background music of my past-times. Bittersweet… but that is for another day.
With the pandemic and all, I have been lucky enough to keep my paychecks deposited, to satisfy basic needs and to learn things I normally would have been procrastinating on. Up until now.
It has been ever-growingly rougher for me and my family for the past couple weeks. Knowing Uncle (from Mom’s second eldest sister) who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease for 5 years was getting significantly worse in terms of physical conditions and verbal capability was devastating.
Uncle was very special to me as they were “remote” but also “close”. For they having been living in the States for longer than I have been in this world, I could only see them once in a year or two for the past 20+ years. Yet, they have always been the closest relatives in my heart.
My memory of them started in middle school when they gifted my the trendiest iPod mini all the way from America (that Apple perks yo!). Later in 2008 (I think), when my sister went to Boston for her grad school, they flew all the way from CA to meet us and help settling down. Of course I was just there for a vacay, but it was probably the first bonding time I have ever had with them: a bit shy, curious and nervous, but that’s okay. Maybe I was showing my gratitude; maybe I was just chatty, I showed them how I fixed the battery of the iPod they gave me. And they seemed impressed.
2013 was the year I broadened my horizons. I got into the exchange program with UBC. Dad booked me a “triangle flight” from TPE to SFO and YVR to TPE (Of course he complained about the price). Naturally, Auntie and Uncle showed up at the airport, took me in, drove me around SF and accompanying me all the way to Vancouver. Well again, lots of driving, helping me with settling down and going to Victoria with me. I must proudly say I bought them a salmon burger with the money Dad gave me on the ferry back to Vancouver.
Lucky me, or I should say spoiled me, I joined my friends and visited several major cities in the North America at the end of the semester. I went solo, paid Grand Canyon a visit and ended up showing up on a tour bus (back) to Arcadia. There they were, “visiting my cousin in LA”. I still remember the first meal being my first Ding Tai Fung in the States with the US-only chocolate XLB.
I got into UChicago in 2017. Guess what? They booked a flight and met me at ORD! All the way and per usual, driving settling and sightseeing. Except this time, Uncle was different. He could only do short walks and got tired very easily. Auntie did the driving for the whole trip. I hope they enjoyed the views!
Have I mentioned 2018? Have I mentioned there was an intern orientation in Mountain View and I crashed at their place for a week, then they flew with me down to LA to “see my cousin” (read to help with settling). Plus I got to park the car I semi-unreasonably bought in LA on their West San Jose driveway for 6 months along with a hecka long drive with my cousin after the internship was over. I spent a couple weeks there for job hunting.
Things got pretty bad when I relocated to the Bay Area in 2019. Lots of fights between Aunt and Uncle over mostly food choices as the care demand grew. Despite Auntie’s reluctance to admit, Uncle found it harder to speak, walk and eat. We were told to set expectancies by the doctors.
In 2020, I was quite worried when I knew Auntie still went to Costco for groceries even with the ongoing pandemic. Things seemed okay until they were not. All of a sudden, another cousin C (from Mom’s eldest sister) who also lived in the area, got diagnosed with stage 4 skin cancer. And yet, there she was calling me and telling me about Auntie’s recent stroke. (Did I say I was also a frequent hospital visitor who stayed in the ER couple days in 2017, 2018 and had been having ongoing problems with my stomach, ankle and ear?)
Auntie’s son worried sick and got her appointments for MRIs. So, I offered help and went to their place to keep an eye on Uncle while Auntie was at the hospital. As heart sinking as it could be, Uncle was in a terribly weak form. He couldn’t adjust the blankets when it’s too hot or too cold. And yet, I could barely make out what he was saying. He quickly got tired and went back to bed. That’s the last of his time with me. He passed away from Covid complications after later on they hired care takers to help and both of Aunt and Uncle got test positive and sent to ICU.
That was only a few days ago. While I was suspecting why my cousin C hadn’t checked my messages about their Covid updates, I saw her husband praying on Facebook for the emergency surgery on the last day of 2020. Have I said some people are lucky? I hope others can get some too!