By the time we arrived at the scene, at least two police cars, two fire engines, and an ambulance were there. Edmund’s car was badly damaged—the door on the driver’s side was particularly bad. Edmund was still in the driver’s seat. He was showered with broken glass, bleeding on one side of the head and bleeding on the arms and hands. The firemen were trying to get him out, assisted by two paramedics. The firemen cut out the door on the driver’s side of the car and the paramedics stabilized Edmund’s neck before they took him out. I stood nearby, helpless. Tears kept rolling down my face. I’ve only known Edmund for a little less than two years, and yet, he’s become so dear to me.
My husband knew that I was worried. He suggested that I went with Edmund in the ambulance and they would follow. Inside the ambulance, the paramedic started to do the routine check up, and asked the routine questions, which I was only able to answer a few. I have only known Edmund for less than two years! The standard questions such as, ‘What day it is? What is your name? Where do you live?’ were asked to check for concussion. Edmund had difficulty answering the questions. He had an operation on his larynx some years ago and he needs the aid of a battery-operated electro larynx machine to talk. He was fumbling around trying to find his machine to answer the questions. I helped when I could, trying to read his lips and to relay the message. On our way to the hospital, I touched Edmund’s forehead, his face and his shoulder and kept telling him that I was with him and he need not worry. I had held my grandmother’s hand when she was on her way for an operation, and Edmund is as dear to me as a grandfather could be.
When the ambulance arrived the Auckland Hospital, Edmund was rushed to the Resus Room of the emergency department. He was at once attended by at least seven or eight hospital staff. Again I was asked questions about Edmund which I was not able to answer. I only knew his address and name. When I was watching these people working on Edmund, my emotional chord struck again and I couldn’t control the tears. There is a Chinese saying, ‘Women are made of water’, and I must be full of it.
After a flurry of action, the radiographer was called in to take x-rays. Then gradually the doctor, the surgeon and most of the nurses left, leaving only one nurse to look after him. I was told that he now had to wait for the CT scan to make sure that he did not have a broken neck. I went over to chat with him and I was relieved that he did not seem to have a concussion. Since the accident, the upsurge of adrenaline had kept me alert and my muscles were tightened like a stretched rubber band. Now that there seemed to be no imminent danger my adrenaline began to deplete and I started to feel tired. I went to the waiting room to rest and saw my husband and my friends waiting there to hear about Edmund’s condition. My husband gave me a nut bar, which was very thoughtful of him. We went to lunch and came back finding that Edmund, very fortunately, did not have a broken neck.
Edmund had Larynx Cancer when he was 50 years old. He was given radiotherapy and he thought that he was cured. Five years later, the disease returned and he had to have an operation and thus now needs a machine to help him talk. When I first met him I was not that keen to talk to him as I found it difficult to understand his mono tone. After I came to know him better I became fonder and fonder of him. He is quite a legendary person to me. He is not only a cancer survivor but he is someone who loves life. I once tried to kill myself because I have mental illness and I was sick of the side effect of my medication.I drank caustic powder and I needed an operation to replace my oesophagus. He has a problem with his throat and I have a problem with my throat too. He has reparations from the operation and I too suffer from the aftermath of the operation.The difference is he has no choice, he does not choose to have cancer but I chose to end my life. Of course, now, I too am a survivor and I too love life.
He is kind, does not take things for granted, always apologetic, humble, has good manners, respectful… He is a scholar. He is an artist. He learned fencing, Tai Chi, Martial Art and Yoga when he was young. He is also a Feng Shui guru.He still practises Tai Chi and Yoga. I have never known a person with so many talents but he is one even though it may be difficult to believe. When he knew that I wanted to learn painting, Chinese calligraphy, he offered to teach me.
Before the accident, we met several times a week. We belong to a group of volunteers, coaching special needs children table tennis, every Tuesday. OnThursdays we play table tennis; on some Sundays I go to his place for lessons, and it is always interesting to listen to his past and present. It is sad that his wife died several years ago and he is now by himself, but he has quite a lot of good friends who enjoy looking after him. Now at the age of eighty-six he still coaches children table tennis and still loves life.
I saw him teach a child with special need to play table tennis. He did not have to use words but he used body language instead—he held up the second and third fingers and pointed them towards his eyes and then to the ball which indicated that the child should watch the ball, focused and then hit it. His method of teaching aroused my admiration for this elderly gentleman. He is not only clever but he puts his heart in everything he does and nothing can stop him.
Very luckily he is a survivor again this time—with six fractured ribs and some superficial injuries which will heal in time. Last time when I visited him he proclaimed that he couldn’t wait to be back at the table tennis table again which will probably be in two months’ time. At his age—eighty-five—he is really fortunate to be able to recover so soon, thanks to his Tai Chi and yoga which he does every day that keep him fit.
When I was at the Resus Room, worrying about Edmund, wondering if he would be all right, I realised exactly how my loved ones must have felt that nightwhen I was taken to the emergency ward after I drank caustic powder. I, too, very luckily have survived and I have learned to treasure my life and all that I have—especially those who love me!