My sweet sister Tineke Liong-A-Kong made her transition on September 1st, after a sickbed of 46 days. The day after her 50th birthday which she celebrated big time, she got a third and fatal stroke.
My sister with the Director of Culture
Aunt Irene, Tineke’s beautiful neighbor whom she spoke with every day, took her to the emergency after noticing odd speech and expressions from my sister. Aware that Tineke was a high blood pressure patient, who had already had two strokes before, aunty Irene explained the precarious situation. Yet, it was right there at the emergency department of the Academisch Ziekenhuis hospital in Pararamaribo where my sister got an epileptic attack and the stroke that proved to be fatal. The triage room that was supposed to be in place was nowhere to be found. In fact, the system completely failed miserably.
Even after aunt Irene pressed the emergency of the situation, they told her to wait. Only after foam came out of my sister’s mouth, they rushed to help. By that time, it was too late. My sister was in a coma when she arrived at the Intensive Care of RKZ, another hospital a couple of miles away.
We, the family, feared the worst but after a week Tineke who was very strong and strong willed, opened her eyes. The time that followed was difficult, very difficult.
Besides her left arm, Tineke couldn’t use her limbs, couldn’t swallow and lost her speech. She could open her eyes though and raise her eyebrows.
During these trying weeks I got to know another side of my sister. I knew that she was a very social soul but had no idea that she had so many and such great friends. She had so many faithful friends that there was not a day that I was by myself at her bedside. Some with a song, others with a prayer or a story but all of her friends came to express their love and support every day. That was moving.
Despite the heaviness of it all, I often felt uplifted when I left the hospital room.
Of course there were sad days as well. It was painful to see my sister who used to be so full of life this way while it was also impossible to communicate. There were moments when she tried really hard to tell me something but no words came out and I just couldn’t understand what she was trying to say. That, was tough. Very tough.
I massaged her with pure coconut oil. Her arms, legs and the fingers of her left hand that she couldn’t stretch since the second stroke. There was still strength in her fist. I knew she liked the massages because she blinked with her eyes when I asked her. I was glad because this way we literally stayed in touch.
Some days I would sing to her. Amazing Grace was one of the few songs I still remembered from my time in catholic high school so I downloaded the words. It was also fitting. The grace she showed during this awful ugly time was just amazing.
The moments she smiled were the most precious ones. Like that moment when she noticed our nearly 80 year old dad who just had his hip replaced near her bedside. Everybody got stopped in their tracks because her smile uplifted the whole room. And the day she stick out her tongue at me to show the logopedist that she could use her tongue, everybody was cracking up. She never lost her sense of humor.
The day before she passed away was one of the rare evenings, I was by myself at her bedside. Her temperature was on the rise again. Her breathing heavy. I asked the nurses if they gave her the medication to ease it. The answer was yes.
I spoke to her and said, your fever is up again honey. That’s not good. I took her hand but the strength of her fist was low. I sang Amazing Grace again, hoping she wouldn’t get bored hearing the only song I knew yet again. I sang it softly this time because that’s how it felt not knowing it was going to be the last time.
The next day early morning the hospital called us. A lot of tears fell despite the fact that we took it into account. We wanted the best for her at the same time I think we all intuitively knew it was an unfair battle. Now it was a fact. My only sister had made her transition.
The funeral was beautiful. All 225 seats in the auditorium of Hodie Mihi Cras Tibi at the Dr. Sofieredmondstraat, were taken. The rest of the room was filled with people standing in the back and side of the room. Not just family and close friends but also former team mates, old schoolmates, colleagues and ex-colleagues, neighbors came to say good bye to my sweet sister, Tineke.
Mister Sno from the Ministry of Sport and Youth came to speak and the children of the ALBUFLO foundation with their cute uniform on and a basketball in their hands were crying while paying their last respects. It all deeply touched me.
Tineke and sports
My sister was one of the most talented sports people I’ve ever met. As a little girl she represented Suriname at the Inter Guiana Games playing table tennis. In her teens she was asked to join the swim team of Badhoevedorp in the Netherlands where she lived for a year. She was also in the starting teams at the time she played basketball and volleyball.
After she earned her diploma as a sport coach trainer she started working at the Ministry of Sport and Youth where she was always on the field in the middle of kids. After her second stroke they assigned her desk work because she was slightly handicapped. Yet within no time she was on the field and in the swimming pool again, teaching. She didn’t allow her handicap stop her. new-york
In fact she walked about 5 km every week to train underprivileged children at ALBUFLO then walked back home. They told me that the kids would call her if she didn’t show up one day. It was clear that they too will miss my sister.
As my brother mentioned in his speech: For the last time our sister had a full house. Her 50th birtday celebration was her grand goodbye. Our mom will welcome her in heaven but she can expect a reprimand because she left way too early.
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