Do find time to read my love story and my caregiving journey 4 times over here on the STOMP Valentine’s Day Contest 2018. I celebrate my 68th birthday next month – on Valentine’s Day😊
Love Story: Giving unconditional love even after wife passes away battling schizophrenia
It's not easy to lose someone you love, but it is even harder to solider on and continue showing love to others.
67-year-old Raymond Anthony Fernando had to fill many hats and take on multiple caregiver roles ever since his wife had passed away.
He had loved and taken care of his wife, Doris Lau, who battled schizophrenia for four decades before passing on.
Despite this, he had to still on three other caregiving roles for his relatives, including his late sister Veronica who battle depression before her untimely passing in January of last year.
He said, " I am now simultaneously taking care and providing unconditional love to my twin brother Roy Peter who has to cope with depression and has severe mobility problems as well as my 95-year-old mother who resides in a nursing home, just like my twin brother."
"One thing I have learnt through the caregiving journeys is that when we give that much-needed support, love and care to another human being, the smiles on the care recipients is a joy that is indescribable," added Raymond.
To Raymond, he calls children "the biggest adventure on Earth".
His late wife and him had adored children and although they did not have any children of his own, it did not stop them from loving other parents' kids.
"Doris and I played babysitter to Celia Chua (now 12 years-old) when she was born for a one-year period and we continued to give love and care to children of our friends. Kids are so adorable and just like pets are non-judgmental; they just know how to shower us with love.
"And when you are able to give love to children, they will come to you naturally."
To Raymond, providing unconditional love also means reaching out to the less fortunate in society, abandoned children, persons struggling with mental health issues and the elderly sick,
"I have always believed that when we have skills that can benefit society, share it. So, having gained much from taking care of my late wife who recovered from schizophrenia, I go all over Singapore conducting motivational talks on how to manage mental illness," said Raymond.
He intends to visit some of our ASEAN neighbours in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to educate its citizens on schizophrenia and depression.
He also plans to visit an orphanage in the Philippines to spend some time teaching English to the kids there as education is so important for children.
A recent video produced by a good friend of his – Fauzi, provides insightful peeks into his life as he celebrates my 68th birthday on 14th February 2018.
Poem: Across the bridge
My Dearest Doris,
40 years ago, I took you as my bride
I have enjoyed looking after you – with much pride
I have always been by your side
In good times, and in bad
In happy times, and moments when you were sad
Your six chronic illnesses made you struggle through the years
You had so much fears and shed lots of tears
There were periods when you cried out – defeat
But I helped lift you up, even though it was no easy feat
Just when together, we won the battle with your schizophrenia
You lost out to the deadly pneumonia
You left me so suddenly, for death came furious and fast
But my undying love for you, Doris will forever last
Across the bridge, there will be sunshine and happiness
Across the bridge, my love for you will forever come first
In our home, I’ll treasure what you found comfort in – soft toy cute bears
Remember my family and close friends for you, we still care
I pledge to love you more and more each day, Doris
And that in every sense of the word is a documented promise
Where you are, my love, watch over me, as in my heart, in our home
You will always stay; you will always have a place
This Valentine’s Day as with many others
You are pictured in my mind, with so much grace
With all my love,
Footnote: There are a total of 11 photographs that accompanies my article