A Valentine's Day tribute to my lovely wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang
“The most beautiful things in the world are not seen nor touched.
They are felt with the heart.”
- Helen Keller -
The well-known caption above by deaf and blind prolific American author, lecturer and political activist has given me the strength, courage and conviction to stay loyal and committed to my wife - Doris Lau, who was stricken with schizophrenia at the early age of 17. Undoubtedly, my love for Doris has helped a great deal in her coping skills. Certainly, the powerful message of love is ingrained in the celebration of Valentine's Day.
Valentine's Day is an annual commemoration held every year on February 14 to celebrate love and affection. This special day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius in 500AD.
Valentine's Day for me is so special because I was born on 14th February. Doris always look forward to celebrating this happy day with me. Although she does not cook everyday because of her arthritis condition that leaves her mobility somewhat impaired, she will make extra effort to whip up my favourite dish on that special day- chilli crabs, which she cooks very well. Perhaps, that is why that's why some people tease that “the way to a man's heart is through his stomach”.
Despite knowing well that the journey in caring for Doris is going to be a long and difficult journey, I made a decision to marry her 35 years ago because I wanted to give her a better quality of life. To be able to proof to her and all those in her condition that “love heals”. People with mental illness can cope with the illness if they seek treatment, take their medications faithfully and have strong emotional support. I fervently believe that love forms an important component in the recovery of persons struggling with mental illness.
But giving love to our spouse or family members should not end there. We can cast our nets wider and give love to the poor, the marginalised communities, the man who has been retrenched from his job, the children who go hungry on the hour-by the hour, the depressed, the lonely elderly, the sick and others who have fallen by the wayside.
There is one unique way to further “infect” every citizen of this country and perhaps the whole world using the power of love – A Love Siren. A love siren can be sounded off on the island every 14th February. Once this siren goes off, people can pause for a moment to think of how the healing power of love can change lives- for the better. In time to come, love for another human being through this proposed Love Siren concept, will come naturally.
I would like to close this article with a poem that I wrote last year, with my wife in mind – entitled “Our Twilight years”. I wish all our readers a “Happy Valentine's Day 2011”.
Poem: Our Twilight years
When I am old and Grey
In good health and mind, I want to stay
I want to be able to breathe fresh air
I want my beloved wife, Doris, to always be there
I do not want to be overcome by fear
With God, I want to be near
I want to teach children to be kind and understanding
I want children to grow up loving and caring
With my wife by my side, we will reflect on our special years
Moments in which Doris and I
Shared laughter and tears
We will appreciate the music of Mantovani
We will admire nature, knowing that the best things in life are free
In my twilight years, I will write more poetry
I will be worry free
I will paint, I will write
Together with Doris, we will gaze at the stars at night
Always, we will keep God in sight
In retirement, I will be rid of office politics
No more pressing deadlines, no more falling sick
I will meditate to find inner peace
With God and my lovely wife by my side
Our last journey through life will be a breeze
Raymond Anthony Fernando