Mom was watching TV – the 20th anniversary show on Princess Diana’s death. She looked more engrossed than usual, and actually emotionally affected.
What are you watching? I asked.
It’s about the Queen and her daughter, she said, It’s terrible!
Why? I asked.
The Queen doesn’t like her, and she just died.
It was as though it had just happened. She has no memory how affected she was when Diana passed away 20 years ago.
Mom watches a lot of TV, consisting of whatever the people around her choose to watch, or whatever channel the TV happens to be at when it is switched on for her. She gets excited watching the thrills and spills of Ninja Warriors. She watches homegrown dramas, cooking shows, thrillers, game shows, movie re-runs. Sometimes she surprises me by reading the word off Wheel of Fortune.
She’s happy to go with the flow, watching TV, whatever is playing.
Last night there was a show about unusual local professions, and it featured a young woman embalmer. Her job was to embalm dead persons and put make-up on in preparation for their funerals and wakes. She wore a thick gas mask as she went about powdering and colouring her “client”. I guessed she had to wear the mask because the embalming fluid, formaldehyde, is a poison.
My domestic helper couldn’t understand why the face had to be made up, because in her home country, dead people were neither embalmed nor prettied up. I explained that embalming helped preserve bodies in Singapore’s warm weather until time for the cremation, and the cosmetics were to help the person look more natural. Although truth to tell, in my opinion, the result is almost always most unnatural-looking. Maybe I should let it be known I do not want the thick pancake foundation or garish lipstick applied.
As we watched the show, it occurred to me it might be a good opportunity to ask Mom what her preference was, but I didn’t.