I HAD a horrid Christmas last week.
It turned out to be my worst Yuletide celebration ever!
The nightmare began on Christmas Eve.
The first sign of a sword of Damocles looming over my head came in the form of some distressing news from a dear friend of mine, KB, and her sickly father.
KB was forced to cancel all her plans to rush and be with her dad’s side when his regular caregiver abandoned the old man (who uses a wheelchair) to himself in his flat.
What was worse was that his caregivers – a newly-married couple – were their own relatives. They absconded their responsibilities to attend midnight Mass and party away late until daylight.
KB is an inspiration to me. She is a highly devoted person to her family and works hard to look after them in their flat.
Despite that, and having three other brothers who can easily care for their dad, the men refuse to take any responsibility.
They have no qualms about leaving their disabled dad unattended.
KB, who solely pays for dad’s meals, care and medication – as well as the caregivers’ salary – is now forced to drive about 120 kilometres to and fro daily to look into dad’s needs.
I simply can’t believe how uncaring some people can be to members of their own family.
Don’t they realise that they, too, will get old one day and very possibly face the same fate by needing caregivers for themselves?
I am told that there are laws in Singapore that allow action to be taken against errant children for abandoning their elderly parents.
With the numbers of elderly citizens on the increase, Malaysia should adopt such laws too in order to protect our precious seniors – especially when they are disabled.
It is shocking that whilst we all take pride that we live in a caring country, something like this can happen right in front of our noses.
On Christmas day I received the bad news that a personal helper that I had been hoping to get was not turning up as expected.
But that was only the beginning of all the jinxes that was waiting to be unleashed on me with all its might.
I was halfway from my home in Petaling Jaya to Rawang to attend a Christmas lunch when my car developed engine trouble.
I managed to pull over to the side of the road. This was the second time that something like this had happened in a month.
However, the last time I was with one of my service dogs and didn’t have to worry about complete strangers coming up to my car to “offer help”.
This time though, I was alone with only my wheelchair in the car. And that, too, was way back in the car boot.
I was approached by three men within 10 minutes. They said they were from a nearby car repair shop and immediately spotted the trouble.
The first said he could settle my problem (considering that I was disabled) for a “super discount” price of RM280.00. The second quoted RM180.00 and the third, RM80.00. (I had only RM50.00 in my wallet.)
It was then that I decided to call the Automobile Association of Malaysia.
They arrived about 40 minutes later.
But upon getting down of his vehicle, the driver discovered that his towing equipment was out-of-order.
He called for another lorry which arrived 30 minutes later.
All that while I was rather disappointed that the AAM telephone operator did not think to call me back to ask if I was safe and comfortable especially when he knew full well that I was a disabled driver.
Does the AAM not train their operators on how to respond to disabled drivers’ SOS calls; or do they just decide to treat everybody as able-bodied people?
Within moments my car was transported up into a huge lorry.
So there I was on Christmas day – on top of the world – peering down on the rest of the other vehicles passing by me as I was being towed back to my home in PJ.
Amazingly, in my mind I was also in high spirits.
That’s chiefly because despite being stranded on the road alone in my car, I had many friends who called me up and told me to hang in there.
One of my good friends, Antony Leopold, who uses callipers and walking sticks, actually drove over all the way to meet me with his able-bodied wife whilst I was waiting for the tow truck.
As for Andrew Martin, my able-bodied best friend, he had me covered. He was at the mechanic’s near my home to receive me – famished and tired – the moment the monstrous vehicle arrived.
All these are shining testimonials to the fact that I know that I’ll be able to get by 2010 with a little help from all my friends.
Happy New Year everybody!
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