Recently whenever I have a brief leisure in the clinic, I get this lonely, melancholy feeling. Sitting in the chair, starring in the air, and I hope to see a familiar face---may be Allison can tell me “Ms. G is here”. I hope for it, but I know it will never happen. Ms. G, my old patient, old friend, my Granny, will never come back.
It has been a month. The memories of Ms. G kept coming back. I have known her for many years. After she became my patients, she let me handle all her health problems. Then she started bringing lunch for me---the dim sum and sticky rice cake or fried sticky rice that she thought was the best in the whole Chinatown. In fact I found these food too oily and I only occasionally ate them. Every time she brought lunch I would tell her to not buy me lunch anymore and I did not tell her my true feeling about these food. I knew she was lonely and did not want to hurt her feeling. Therefore she kept buying lunch to me for many years until recently, and finally she stopped buying, maybe she went to Chinatown not as often, or maybe she finally found out I did not like the food.
Ms G. Speaks the taishan dialect---a branch of cantonese that is very different from ordinary cantonese. The language barrier was therefore very strong that our communication at the beginning was extremely hard. However, after several years, we eventually could understand each other very well with simple words, gestures and body language. In the most recent 3 years, after she became deaf, we could even communicate through hand gestures only.
Several years ago she started to have hemafecia and stomach ache. I urged her to do a full check out in the hospital but she refused. Therefore she started coming to my clinic more often. Sometime she came two times a week when her condition was not well. She did not speak any English, so occasionally she would come to ask me hear the voice messages on her phone. Then I would go to her place to listen the messages for her after the clinic was closed at 6 pm.
Then came the bank accounts problems. Ms G. had some savings and investments. She asked me to read her bank letters, probably because she thought I as an “outsider” was easier to talk to then her children. For some time I might be the one who know more about her accounts than her children.
She gave her will to me to keep several years ago, along with the related documents. In the same year she gave me a small sach, in which there were a pair of vintage vases, and a pair of small stone lions. She told me it was a “small gift of memory”. I saw it was not anything expensive, so I accepted it. Later I found out how precious these were---these were actually a part of her dowry accompanied her to Canada when she got married. Half a year ago she offered me to take home a wine cabinet made of fine oak, probably because I said this cabinet looked good one time when I visited her. Of course, I could not accept her offer this time.
I suppose her insecure feeling was probably because her language barrier---she could not communicate with her neighbors, and she got nervous once she saw ambulance and police cars. She lived in a big house alone, and the loneliness was beyond what she could take.
Months ago her condition finally went out of control. The ache and swelling in her stomach got worse and worse, and I ran out of solutions. She told me she was too old to go to hospital and she asked me not telling her children because she feared being sent to hospital. Regarding her situation, I contacted Dr. Jianwen Fu and Shipei Huang of the Traditional Chinese Medicine University of Guangzhou, they both said the unsuccessful prognosis was the cause. She started with stomach ache, then weight loss, then not being able to walk to clinic, not being able to climb on the bed---I could only lessen her pain, but could not help to cure. I felt really sad and helpless.
On the second day (which was a Friday) when she was sent to emergency by her family, her daughter called me, telling me she finally agreed to stay in the hospital due to my suggestion. I was busy that day and the weekend yet I thought about visiting her. I decided to visit her the coming Tuesday. However, all happened so fast. On the coming Monday when I finished with the first client that day, Alison got a call from her daughter, saying she passed away the last night.
Upon hearing this, my heart went down. There were tears in my eyes. Now it has been almost a month. How is she doing in the heaven? Is she free of pain and insecurity? I cannot see but I know all is good for her. I will pay a visit to her grave and she will be happy---she will remember our friendship.
A doctor grateful for your trust
最近在诊所里工作的时候，当略有空闲之际，心里就会涌现出一种说不出来的滋味.寂寞、惆怅，甚至有苦闷要哭的感觉。坐在休息室的椅上的时候，我多么希望有一个熟悉的背影出现，多么希望听见门响以后，Allison来告诉我”Ms.G is here”，但我知道再也等不来了——我的老病人、老朋友、我的“老人家”（一直以来的尊称）。