Marilyn David

Marilyn David: Living a Legacy

marilyn-davidWe often hear the saying, ‘Love leaves a memory that no one can steal’. This is especially so when the memories we fondly recall are from the least expected places. For the David family, Assisi Hospice – where Marilyn’s mother spent her last days – is one of those places. In remembrance of their mother, Marilyn and her siblings will come back every year with chicken rice lunch treat for our patients, and also render their support financially and as volunteers for our fund-raising events.

We sit down with Marilyn David, the second daughter of the David family and asked her what inspires her and drives her family to carry on this tradition year after year.

Thank you for visiting our patients and the delicious chicken rice treat every year. Can you share with us your family’s experience with Assisi Hospice?

My mum was admitted to Assisi Hospice in August 2002. I was 18, my brother, Joe, was 19 and my youngest sister was just 14. Being pretty young and vulnerable then, Nurse Rasi and her team of nurses took very good care of us when we came to visit our mother. Financially, we were struggling with our mother’s expenses and on some days, we did not even have enough food for ourselves. However, it was something we did not have to worry about because Nurse Rasi and her team were always welcoming us with biscuits, bread, tea and milo when we came by after school every day. My mum passed on peacefully on October 23, 2002 and we marked the 10th anniversary at Assisi Hospice in 2012. The staff at Assisi Hospice walked us through the darkest and lowest days during those years, and we will never forget it.

What are some of the lessons you learnt from your mum, before she passed on?

A: When I think of her, I think of two important words in life – ‘Nurturing’ and ‘Gratitude.’ My mother will always tell us, “Be the one who nurtures and builds, the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart and looks for the best in people. Always remember to leave people better than you found them.” My sister and I etched this firmly in our hearts and till today, we want to live by what our mother taught us. I am serving the nation in the Army while my sister will be a nurse when she graduates and she wants to venture into palliative care.

It was a difficult journey for us to go through what we did as teenagers and we always hoped no one will have to experience the same difficulties. Having said that, every experience is a space for us to grow and it is something we should not see in a negative light.

The story behind Joe, your brother – how has he inspired you and your sister to give back after so long?

As the oldest in the family, my brother was the person who shouldered the responsibility of looking after us. He was a very kind and generous person, always giving despite the little that he had. After my mother passed away, my brother graduated and started his own business, Noelle Dive. As we were all busy starting our lives and careers, we did not have the time to volunteer. But Joe started to donate, through his company, in 2008 and continued to support Assisi Hospice’s fundraising activities. For example, I think he took up seven food and games stalls to support the drive in 2011. He continued to support Assisi Hospice until July last year before he tragically passed away in a motor accident.

Our memories of Joe are still fresh in our minds. His giving and selfless spirit and belief in paying it forward drive us to live a fruitful and humble life. Whenever I step into Assisi Hospice, the smiles on the patients’ faces remind me of what my brother used to tell us – “No matter how big or small your contributions are, from the little things to the big, never stop giving back.” That was the fondest memory I have of my late brother.

What drives you to carry on this movement every year?

Now, my sister and I want to do this every year to remember our mother and brother. They were the pillars of strength for us and despite their short time in this world; they have lived their lives to the fullest and inspired us to do the same. Assisi Hospice was almost a second home and sanctuary for my siblings and me during our school days as we walked with our mother in her last days. This is all thanks to Assisi staff and their dedicated work to care for the end of life patients.