Last Outfit of Her Life: A Tailored Dress

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by Shuomei Tan-Huang

All Mdm Chan wanted for her last wish was a dress, specially tailored, and a good photograph taken, for her funeral. It appeared like a simple enough wish except that Mdm Chan, who has advanced cancer was deteriorating very quickly. Thankfully, the SGH Art Therapy intern had helped Mdm Chan sketch out her dream dress. A visit was made to see Mdm Chan at the Outram Community Hospital (OCH), managed under SingHealth Community Hospitals to establish what her preferences were for the dress, and whether she had other requirements. Our volunteers very quickly assembled a team including a tailor and a photographer.

Being most familiar with Mdm Chan, Sandy, medical social worker at OCH who referred the wish to AWS, very quickly helped to source for fabric samples so that Mdm Chan could make a selection. Arrangements were made by AWS for Ros, the volunteer tailor to take measurements. Over two afternoons, less than 9 hours later, Ros and her trusted sewing machine turned out the ivory lace dress with high collar, just in time for the photography. On the day of photography, Mdm Chan was very weak and less responsive than before.

That however, did not deter AWS volunteers and nurses at the ward who sprang into action quickly applying light make-up and putting on accessories for her.No effort was spared in encouraging Mdm Chan, in a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese, to keep her eyes open and to smile for the camera. Our sincere gratitude to Ray Chua for helping with the shoot. It meant so much to Mdm Chan, to have her in her very own tailored dress captured in a photo.

Through this simple but deeply meaningful wish, we witnessed once again the power of love and hope. The love and support poured in from all to fulfil Mdm Chan’s last wish. The hope that Mdm Chan held to don her very own custom made dress. Big thank you to my fellow volunteers Teng Teng and Hon Qi for working together on Mdm Chan’s wish; Ros for her generous giving of time and effort in making the dress for Mdm Chan; Lee Ann Textiles for sponsoring the fabric; Ray for the professional shots; Kin May for providing the make up tools; Hibiscus Florists for the beautiful flowers that brought out a rare smile from Mdm Chan and last but not least Sandy who supported Mdm Chan and her wish with such genuine love.