Pewter tribute eases pain of losing long-time patient, friend

Pewter tribute eases pain of losing long-time patient, friend
"Pewter tribute eases pain of losing long-time patient, friend"

In the practice of ophthalmology, the majority of the patients we deal with have some form of visual disturbance – from mild to severe, reversible, or irreversible.

Whatever it may be, the individual often comes to us in a physical, and emotionally-troubled state. Connecting and empathising with my patients, besides diagnosing the ophthalmic problem, has always been my practice.

I connected extremely well with Tan Hin Toe and his wife. They have been my patients for the past 12 years, following me as I moved hospitals. Tan was always proudly reassuring me, ‘Doc, we will follow you to whatever hospital you go to’.

I had operated on him in 2012, and his wife, in 2014. Every visit was a meet-up of old friends, discussing politics, the palm oil industry, and his passion for travelling.

Meeting this lovely couple for many years, the care and compassion they had for each other, was really heart-warming. There was much I learnt from seeing them.

I last reviewed both of them on Feb 21. As usual, they came bearing gifts. This time, it was a big box of sweet cherries, tangy oranges, and crunchy grapes. Both were doing good, with sharp vision, and glasses-free. They were happy, I was even happier for them.

Thus, it came as a rude shock when I received a message from Tan’s wife on March 7, informing me that her beloved husband had passed away four days earlier. It really hit me deep.

Tan’s wife dropped by the hospital earlier this week, and she handed me a box. She reassured me that she would continue her follow-ups with me.

I was very emotional. I did not even open the box to see what was inside. I brought it home and left it on the coffee table.

On Wednesday, my youngest daughter opened the box. It was a plaque made of pewter. Reading the plaque, I was extremely overwhelmed.

I am glad to have been able to help Tan – assist with his vision, and more importantly, develop a lasting professional and social relationship.

Rest in peace, my friend. I will miss our conversations.

Empty benches are reminders of the people we meet, and the moments we shared, but if the time spent together is beautiful, it can fill the space in our hearts when they are gone.

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