Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Wheel Chair Brawl (well, almost...)

A couple of weeks ago, Carolyn pointed out to me on how neglected our blog site has become (my fault really, since technically speaking, I'm in charge of the blog site). To which my swift reply/excuse was, "It would really help if I can chance upon an interesting event at ASH, since the dreaded writer's block has been plaguing me for quite some time." Leaving the conversation as that, I proceeded to change the topic altogether, thereby succeeded in becoming completely irresponsible. You would have thought that I had gotten away from the task of updating the blog site don't you? Fat chance.

And like a huge, nasty practical joke, something interesting DID happen during yesterday's service at ASH. It all went well for the first half of the service, as the volunteers were doing the usual round of befriending with the elderly. However, the drama began to unfold itself as we were preparing to go to the individual wards to sing for the elderly. For those who volunteer at ASH regularly, you will not fail to notice that although a large portion of the residents at ASH are really friendly and as a whole, generally docile, there're 2 residents on the third and second floors who have a really bad temper. Occasionally, when their tempers flare (by more than a few notches, I can assure you that) as the volunteers came over to their wards to sing for the residents, they would yell at the volunteers to stop the racket they were making. When I first did my volunteering work at ASH, I must admit that both of them did scare me a little. But after awhile, I have gotten used to it and think of them as nothing more than a pair of irate neighbors, who will complain once in awhile about how loudly the volume of my TV set was turned on the previous night.

As we made our way to the male ward on the third floor to begin the singing session, the bad tempered resident living on that floor began to unleash his verbal lashing on the volunteers almost immediately when he saw us. Although the female volunteers always try to maintain an air of stoicism to his 'colourful' verbal onslaught (the contents can be aptly described by the colour blue), I could always tell that they're inwardly feeling both uneasy and uncomfortable. Just when it had become almost certain for us to cut short the singing session and make our way to the next ward, our favourite resident at ASH, uncle Wong (pardon me if I got his name wrong) charged to our aid. Like the calvary of yore riding to the rescue of a band of hapless wagons, the uncle brought his wheelchair to bear at full speed, and rammed it straight into that of the bad tempered resident, chiding him sternly to stop his nonsense.

That very stirring image of him wheeling his wheelchair to crash into the other resident's, reminded me of the battle at Salamis where the Athenians' triremes crashed triumphantly into their Persian foes' flimsier warships. I almost found myself leaping to my feet to cheer this heroic feat. Of course I didn't, sensibility had gotten the better of me. Along with the rest of the volunteers, we proceeded to mediate the quarrel between the two residents, which is threatening to escalate into a full scale brawl.

I must emphasize that this entire incident was not a pleasant one at all, since it had almost resulted in a fight between two residents at the home (I may be exaggerating here, but I have learnt not to take any chances). But the way uncle Wong stood up for us yesterday has moved me immeasurably. It was certainly not the first time a resident has gone out of his/her way to be nice to us, this time however, uncle Wong had placed himself physically between us and the bad tempered resident to shelter us from his verbal lashing. At that very instant, I could clearly feel a lump in my throat. Not that I was about to get sappy or anything, but such genuine acts of concern displayed by the home's resident is more than everything a volunteer could ever ask for.

Thus, with this incident, my 'writer's juice' was recharged and I was able to finish this post on a cold, drizzling Sunday night. Interesting events at ASH? Henceforth, my reply to that would be, "It happens all the time, you just have to build a strong rapport with the residents during the befriending sessions."