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Living the Golden Age (Annie)
Living the Golden Age
Mdm Tan Geok Hak Annie
Living Independently, Tan Geok Hak or Annie, who is 82 yearsold, has been living in her old flat in Bukit Ho Swee for over 40 years. Sheand her husband, who passed away nineteen years ago, raised their four childrenin this home. Her children have long moved out after they are married.

Every Saturday, there will be family gatherings. Either herchildren would bring Madam Tan to a restaurant for dinner or home gatherings, whereall her children and grandchildren would come to her house to visit her andspent time together, chit-chatting, watching VCDs, play mah-jong together andhave dinner at Madam Tan’s house.

Usually, on Saturday morning before her family comes, MadamTan would wake up early to prepare the food that she would want to cook for dinner. So that she would be able to spend more timewith them later after they arrive.

Madam Tan have a total of twelve grandchildren’s. Each timeon Madam Tan birthday, her Family would bring her to restaurant forcelebrations. Madam Tan recalls her memorable moments where she had a grandcelebration that took place on her 80 th birthday, all her relativesand friends attended the event.
Often in the past when she were still strong, her childrenwould bring her for a holiday trip to other countries such as Hong Kong,Thailand, Australia and many other places.

Madam Tan were very fortunate be blessed with thoughtful childrenand grandchildren who is always concern and caring for her even though they arenot living together anymore. She was given an iNo Mobile that is user friendlyfor elderly such that they are smart design for the elderly, super big keydesign, short cut dialling and even SOS emergency call. In case of emergency,she will be able to contact them easily.

What surprises me most is that Madam Tan really enjoyplaying Nintendo DS as well as listening to the MP3 which hardly seen by theother elderly’s doing such activities. She shared that it was one of her grandsonwho bought those gadgets and teach her how to play. On every Thursday, MadamTan would spend her leisure time going down to the Salvation Army which isabout thirty minutes’ walk from her house to the Centre to hangout and meetsome friends, there are other elderly over at the centre play mah-jong andsings karaoke.

Madam Tan likes being alone doing house chores or watchingdramas. She has some classic games too that she showed to me. They are all tokeep her busy. Madam Tan is also a crystal lover and loves to collect antiquesstuffs at home. Each time when she go holiday, there must be something’s thatshe would bring back home as a memories.

Madam Tan is a huge fan of rediffussion. She would on themfor the whole night as it keeps her accompany, she enjoys the classics songvery much. When there are problems with the connectivity or if there issomething that is not right, she would call the service provider, to help herrepair.

Born in the year of snake on 6 th May 1929, MadamTan was the youngest daughter among the four siblings, she was sent to aChinese primary school. At the age of 12, Madam Tan stops schooling due to somefamily problems. During that time, Madam Tan lives in one of the kelong houses atkhaw Boon Road. She almost died when a bomb strike her house during World WarII. She believes in this Chinese saying -大難不死,必有後福 which explainsthat she will have a fortunate life after she had escaped that great danger.

Sadly it was a tragic moment for her when her beloved motherpassed away after the World War II. She was only 12 years old then. It wasduring that time where most kids would needs a love from their parents,especially a mother love. Her father remarried. It was a sad moment for herduring that time as she was being treated badly by her stepmother.

A few years after the World War II many girls have to workas a maid for British army. In her early 20s, Madam Tan took up her first everjob doing housework and laundry. Madam Tan earns about $120 per month. When Iask to know whether it was enough for her during that time? She replied, yes itis as the $120 was only meant for her because her mum and dad were no longeraround. So there is no need to share with anyone.
A few years later, Madam Tan father passed away when she was24, at that point of time Madam Tan realised that she has to be independent. Soonafter, Madam Tan found a life partner, Mr Sim who was a mechanic. Madam Tandescribe that it was love at first sight. She stops working just before she gotmarried, so that she is able to look after their kids once they are born.

Madam Tan married her lovely husband when she was turned 26,she consider herself lucky as she is married to the person whom she reallylove, because during that time most parents would match-make their children andyou can’t say no to their arrangement.

But it’s different for Madam Tan, she has a choice of herown as both parents are no longer around to control her life. A few months after marrying, Madam Tan and herlate husband Mr Sim was blessed with their first son, naming him Henry. Oneyear later the couple were blessed again with their second daughter, Charley.

Now Madam Tan has four children the last two is Shirly andBony. She recalls that being a mother was never so easy. She describes it asdouble happiness as she was blessed with two sons and two daughters. Madam Tantook care of her children well and sent them to school daily until they are allgrown up to be a wonderful people.

Madam Tan then finds a part time job when she reaches 50years old, working as a QC operator production line in a factory for screwsnuts and bearings to support her husband who was not in a good health. As herchildren were still studying and needs to pays their school fees.

Even though Madam Tan stop schooling when she was 12 yearsold, she were still able to communicate well in English one of the reason isthat working with the British army helps her to understand better, and secondlyMadam Tan took night classes to learn basic English language.

Money was very important in the past especially when comesto family needs like a home for shelter, food to eat and any other necessaryneeds. Now things are different, it was not really as important as in the past,as she is living in her golden years, every month her children would give hersome money for daily expenses. There are some notes and coins from the pastthat she loves to collect for a great memories of them.

Even though Madam Tan is already over 80 years old, she isstill in a good health condition. Only that her legs are weak and not as strongas last time. But recently only, she visited a doctor for a check-up and foundout that she has a high blood pressure and need to go for a regular check-upand appointment, every morning she would need to take some medications to maintainher a good health.

Madam Tan shares with me even though she is already over 80years old, she has a good memories, she could still remember what happened inthe past and were keen to share with me a lot of her past history that she wentthrough since young.

When ask about death and dying, Madam Tan was not reluctantto share of what she thinks about it. She was not afraid to die, because she knowsthat everyone has to face death, in fact that is what she is waiting for rightnow as she already accomplished what she wanted. She feels that dying in hersleep is the easiest death ever, and not wanting to be bedridden as it couldtrouble her family members.

Madam Tan also shared that she already bought a columbaria twentyyears ago after her husband passed away so that when she dies, her crematedremains can be place beside her husband’s.

Once a Buddhist, now a Catholics, she converted in year 2000and choose Annie as her Catholic’s name. It was her daughter-in-law who broughther to the church to pray. Usually, every Sunday she would go to a catholicchurch of St. Bernadette that is located at Zion Road which is about 30minutes’ drive away with her children to pray. Due to her weak mobility, MadamTan rarely goes to the church.

Madam Tan had also mentioned that, whatever religion anindividual is, it does not matter, as long as you don’t do bad deeds and behaveappropriately. For her she would always be true to herself even till herlast breath.
Living the Golden Age (Annie)

Living the Golden Age (Annie)

A photojournalism of an elderly