I first took notice of the name Richard Teo in the Straits Times obituary page because one of my many cousins has a son by the same name. Still, the similarity ends there. The late RT was a doctor whereas my cousin’s son makes his living as a “sourcer” for antiques and other decor bric a brac for the rich and famous.
Then the name of the late Dr RT came into view again. This time Face Book link of an ex-cousin’s husband gave me a glimpse of what the late doctor spoke about a la the last lecture of Randy Pausch.
As i was relaxing then in Kuala Lumpur, I didn’t really read thru the transcript.
But believe it or not, an email from a KL friend hit my inbox today with the full transcript and i couldn’t help but read it more closely since I am back in SG and have better access to the Internet.
Also, i can’t help noticing that the lament of the late Dr RT has gone viral, at least as reported by Yahoo.
I can understand why it’s so traumatic that someone in his prime should look askance at death. Even my mother at 87 going on 88 — with a host of health problems, sorry lah, I mean health challenges — doesn’t look on death as a welcome exit.
Indeed, I daresay no one, not even those who believe in Heaven, are wholly or even “half in love with easeful death” (as John Keats the Romantic poet once put it!) Otherwise, there would be no need for Lourdes and other miracles.
And i am familiar with the lament — now growing most common and loud in SG — that money and success don’t buy one happiness. This was the thrust of Dr RT’s lecture given near the end of his life. In fact, it’s the same message that I was raised on when as a kid in CHIJ I had chosen Scripture as one of my O level subjects.
That familiar “What doth it profit a man to own the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” has been put into many new packagings in today’s SG, especially by the young clamouring for better life balance.
While I feel it is sad, very sad, for anyone to leave this wonderful life prematurely, I wonder whether it won’t be a lot sadder to leave it prematurely but penniless and an abject failure?
Or put another way: What doth it profit a man who owns not a grain of sand and yet suffers the loss of his own soul? 😥 😥 😥