Thursday, August 08, 2013

My Mother and I

I owe it to my mother to write a post about her as I did for my father-in-law. Both are the last survivors of their generation of my family and my wife's. Last weekend she celebrated her 88th birthday with family members and friends. Nothing elaborate as she is hard on moving about. In fact she said she would want it done at home next year if she is still around. I assured her that we would and told her in advance it would be in the third week of July 2014. Although physically wasting away due to weak legs her mind is still active and coherent but with the usual dementia common in elderly people. I would arrive at her stage in years to come and I hope I can stay positive and strong mentally to weather these debilitating days before I am called home. It is hard to stay positive and jovial but both my father-in-law and my mother put up brave fronts and attended the birthdays given in their honors.

I was home last Saturday to visit her. She had come home a day before from the old folks centre where she had been staying since late May. The house was cleaned out to prepare for her return, and the return of my brother from the States for her birthday. Mother likes to have people around her, even if they don't talk to her. She doesn't like to be alone. She feared if anything happen she want help close by. In the home she is among peers and help is just a shout away, 24/7. In a private moment, my mother told me about my father. She chose him, she confided, because he was handsome. I guess even in the 1940s girls were blue-eyed over boys who look good. Indeed my late father looked good and I said to mother she made the right choice. We are good lookers because our parents looked good. Below was the first family photo of me with my parents.

My mother was a stronger person than my father. She was more assertive and the defender of our rights. My father chose her over the objection of his mother, my grandmother, because they were in love. It was during the Japanese Occupation and they communicated by secret notes passed to each other by friends. My mother did not have a good relationship as a daughter-in-law to my grandmother because she stood for the rights of her husband, the first born son, who ran the family business. But she honored her as a filial daughter-in-law would. She did the house chores even while pregnant with me. We had no maids in those days and daughter-in-laws were expected to wash, clean and cook.

We had a good relationship from young. Although I had my mischevious moments, my mother would always declare I was very obedient and submissive. I know she was being kind because I remembered being caned by her several times for being naughty and playing truant. Yet on my birthdays as a schoolboy she'd made me hard-boiled eggs in special noodles to eat. And for my school exams I got to drink chicken essence to boost my brain power. I owe it to her that I did well academically. My younger brother was jealous and complained I received special love from mother, but she saw in me her future hope, a son she can depend upon in old age. And I tried not to disappoint my parents. When I left home to further my study in Ipoh she'd prepared a basket of fresh eggs for me to bring back every time I return home fortnightly so I could have a proper breakfast.

Mother was undemanding. She and my father never made demands on how much I should give when I began working but for the love I received from them I knew it was my duty to look after them financially by giving a part of my salary. Except for a spell when due to business problems that I could not pay my own salary I stopped giving them. Even then they did not query nor demand I must. Deep inside they prayed that I could resume soon for that would be a sign that my business has recovered. It did 2 years later.

After my late father passed on in 1998 my mother had stayed alone. Her joining the church a few year before provided the fellowship with church members of her age and she passed her time attending activities and services so she was never lonely. About 7 years later her health started to deteriorate that she stopped cycling to church. Except for a god sister and a cousin sister who lived nearby all her children lives and works away from her. She insisted on staying in the old house. We visit her on new years and birthdays and she took comfort that we remembered her. Until about 4 years ago she'd cook our favorite Foochow meals whenever we return. And every year for the past 7-8 years at least we'd return home to celebrate her birthdays. Over the last 7 years mother aged considerably.

So here we are today on a threshold when tomorrow is never assured. But mother is assured where she will be going for her faith in Jesus Christ her Lord is strong. She has been a prayer warrior and prayed for all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I constantly reminded her of her great blessing, the envy of many people, of having 14 great grand children. All her siblings has passed away so she is the grand matriarch of our family. We pray for longevity, good health and safety from falls and injuries. From being an iron woman she now surrender her life to us and her Lord.

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