On 10 July 2018, what concerned us the most was the wedding anniversary photo shooting session for an elderly Tzu Chi beneficiary named Chua Lye Hock. The photo session was held at Chua’s 3-room HDB flat. Besides preparing for the photo shooting session, we were tasked to interview the couple and report on the activity as well. Every one of us hoped that this special photo session would leave a beautiful memory for the old couple.
Four days before, I interviewed Chua for the first time. On that day, a nurse from the Tzu Chi Home Palliative Care team, Nancy Tan, brought Chua his favourite food – durian. Chua, who is suffering from terminal lung failure, started receiving nursing care from the Palliative Care team in January the year before, and Nancy has since been visiting him weekly.
During the interview on that day, Chua revealed his wish to have photos taken of his Golden wedding anniversary. And we were very touched to learn that the frail elderly man still had this wish despite being tormented by his illness. Perhaps, he knew that he might not live till his 50th wedding anniversary, which is two years later. We took note of his wish and hoped to help him fulfill it.
After the visit, we had a discussion with our videography staff, Jacob Chua, who had previously worked as a wedding photographer. After learning about our idea, Jacob not only agreed to be the photographer for the elderly couple, but he even borrowed the wedding attires from the bridal studio where his wife, Kelly Chan, works as a makeup artist.
Kelly specially made time to help dress up the old couple on the day of the photography session.
“He is really very thin! He wears Size XS pants!” remarked Kelly, who couldn’t contain her surprise, despite being the one who selected the wedding attires for Mr. and Mrs. Chua, based on photos of the couple taken by a smartphone.
Kelly had originally intended to spend her off day visiting her mother in Tangkak, Malaysia. However, after learning about this mission, she postponed her trip back home in order to help out.
“Mr. Chua, look over here… Oh you just blinked! One more shot! 1, 2, 3…. Smile!” said Jacob, patiently guiding the elderly couple as he captured joyful moments of the love they share with each other.
Standing next to Chua were Dr. Ho Xin Qin, Nancy Tan, and a Tzu Chi volunteer, Foo See Long, who did their best to create a fun and relaxing atmosphere to help assuage the wedded couple’s anxiety, as they posed in front of the camera.
Nancy was so delighted that she started singing a popular Mandarin oldie by Teresa Teng, creating a lively and heart-warming atmosphere. The elderly Chua appeared rather calm and composed throughout the session, and did not reveal too much of his emotions. He merely said, “thank you all for helping me” in a quiet voice, as we bade him goodbye.
The wedding anniversary photography session did not include any extravagant setting, expensive gowns or heavy make-ups. And all we hoped to do was to fulfill the final wish of an elderly patient.
Perhaps, Chua may not be able to make it for his actual Golden wedding anniversary two years later, but we are sure that every moment on this day will remain as fond memories in his heart.