Monday, February 27, 2017

In Memoriam: Sweesam Na 1942-2017

My father was born in Gerisek, Malaysia, a kampong (village). He was in a family of 7, and his own father died while he was very young. Stories from that period was that he was so poor he and his brothers shared a pair of shorts. When the older brother met the younger brother on the way home, he'd take off his shorts and give it to the younger sibling to wear to school.

Moving to Singapore in his 20s, he had 3 sons and went from being a laborer to a driver to running his own business. With that, he supported 3 sons. He didn't enjoy being in the US when we immigrated. But he still moved here after he retired to be with his grandkids.

The last few years have been challenging. He survived 2 strokes (both of which were caused by falls), but despite that learned to Snorkel at age 72, and just a few years ago was still carrying Bowen around in a baby carrier.


When I arrived at the house on Sunday, I heard my cousin's littlest baby crying, and so thought everything was going as usual. Then my mom told me that he's choking. My two cousins held him up while I grabbed his belly and heaved. I did so repeatedly and saw something on the floor but nothing more came out. We called 911, and when they arrived I had to lie down because I was exhausted.

They had to lever out the food and used an AED. By the time he hit the ER there'd been irreparable damage because of a heart attack. The ER doctor told us that our dad was dying, and that if it was his parent he would not go for heroic measures to keep him alive as he would never be able to breathe without a ventilator again.
We took him off the ventilator at noon on February 2/27/2017. He passed away at 4:10pm. He is survived by 1 brother, 2 sisters, his wife, 3 sons, 2 grandsons, and 1 grand daughter.
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