Bouncing Back

  • 11

    June, 2018

    Bouncing Back

    Posted by : Generation Grit

    Category : Stories of Millenials

    June 6. Theresa Tan, Senior Social Affairs Corresondent. 

    In just one year, Miss Kelly Goh lost both her parents in tragic accidents. Her mother, a coffee shop assistant, died in 2012 while undergoing treatment for late-stage breast cancer. One day, Mr Goh Ah Seng found his wife unconscious at home. She was rushed to the hospital but died the next day. Miss Goh was their only child. Just 19 at the time, she became closer to her father, a taxi driver. Barely a year later, she saw him fall to his death. "I felt so guilty as my father died trying to pick up something that belonged to me. I felt that it was my fault," she said, bursting into tears when recalling the tragic accident. "I was a mummy's and daddy's girl and, just like that, I lost both of them and became an orphan. Words cannot describe my pain." On that fateful day in March 2013, she had hung her canvas shoes out to dry on the metal rack outside her ninth-storey window. But one of the shoes fell and landed on their neighbour's air-conditioner ledge one storey below. Miss Goh told her father and said she would buy a new pair of shoes or ask their neighbour to retrieve her shoe. She was taking a shower when she heard her father calling her urgently. Auntie Stella took care of me like her daughter. I treat her like she's my mum. I'm so thankful she took care of me for five years, making sure I ate and slept well. 

    For those who have lost their parents, you are not alone. You still have friends and relatives around you. Stay positive. We still have a long way to go and we have to live life well. Rushing out of the bathroom, she was shocked to see him on the air-con ledge below. She told the 58-year-old man to stay put while she got help, but he tried to climb back up to their flat and fell. What happened next is still a blur to Miss Goh. She remembers calling for an ambulance and contacting Ms Stella Soh, a friend her father knew through temple activities who had helped arrange the funeral for Miss Goh's mother. 

    Ms Soh, a 45-year-old mother of three, also took care of the funeral arrangements for Miss Goh's father, and she did more than that. She said: "I couldn't bear to send Kelly back home alone. She was traumatised. It was the most natural thing to bring her back home with us. I had to make sure she did not fall into depression." Overnight, Miss Goh, who was then studying at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), went from being a carefree teenager to an orphan with post-traumatic stress. She suffered flashbacks about the accident and needed counselling to cope. She said that Ms Soh - and her family - was the rock she clung to. Ms Soh, who handles sales in a company selling fruit, always made sure there was someone at home with Miss Goh. She even bought the teenager a puppy, and having a dog to play with made her happy, Miss Goh said. For her part, she told herself she needed to think positively and live her life well as that would have been what her parents wanted.

    Ms Soh, a grassroots leader in Bedok, also got Miss Goh involved in grassroots activities. As chairman of the Fengshan Area Sub-Committee, she also encouraged the young woman to help out with door-to-door visits and take part in other events to keep her meaningfully occupied. Miss Goh was receptive and found that the work helped her even as she was helping others.  "I got to know more people," she said. "When I interact with elderly people and some are in wheel-chairs, I feel lucky to be young and mobile, and have people who care about me. I feel that I should not dwell on my unhappy past." She now volunteers regularly with the Fengshan Community Club's youth executive committee, helping in "whatever way I can" at events. She graduated from the ITE with a Higher Nitec in service management, and is currently pursuing a part-time diploma in human resource management at the Kaplan Higher Education Institute. She also works as a customer care officer in a paint-manufacturing firm. Yes, life goes on, she said. She still misses her parents dearly but she is immensely grateful to Ms Soh, who showered her with love and care. She said: "Auntie Stella took care of me like her daughter. I treat her like she's my mum. I'm so thankful she took care of me for five years, making sure I ate and slept well." Recently, she moved out of "Auntie Stella's" home as she felt ready to live alone. Ms Soh, who described Miss Goh as simple, kind and filial, said she became a lot more independent after her parents' deaths. Miss Goh agreed, adding that her attitude to life has changed. She treasures it a lot more now, knowing how fragile it is. She has also discovered how kind people can be. "For those who have lost their parents, you are not alone. You still have friends and relatives around you. Stay positive," she said. "We still have a long way to go and we have to live life well."

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