It is with such a sad heart that I have to write about the loss of my mother who passed away on 15 Sept 2019. She was much loved by her 10 children, 24 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
My sister Rinda has put into words her thoughts of my mum and I wish to share them.
On 16/9/19, I have to take the most difficult flight back to Singapore as I have received the news that my mum has passed away the day before. How do you thank someone that has given birth to you, have been there nurturing you and doing all that she can to ensure that you have a good education? As I sat on the plane, I took out my laptop and started to type the memories that I have of my dear mum. It brings many tears but also many laughter as I think of the time that I have spent with her whenever I go back to Singapore to visit her and to celebrate her birthdays.
How do I feel? - Some regrets that said that maybe I should have fly back to Singapore and spent more time with her. Regret that maybe I should have booked a ticket home when I heard that she was in the hospital. Regrets that I should have gone back more often or call her more often. Calling was not ideal as she does not know who she is talking to because she is suffering from dementia. Before she had dementia, when I called her and told her that I am the daughter from Australia, she would ask me when I am coming back. She will then ask when. When I told her at the end of the year to celebrate her birthday, she would ask what month is now and she will always comment, “so long more.”
Mum loves to knit before she had dementia. She loves to knit booties and hand gloves for her grandchildren. Every grandchild has a pair. My sister was very smart to keep some for her future grandchildren. Now, why didn’t I think of this? She loves knitting scarves for all of us especially those living in Australia. She has knitted many scarves which I have given to my friend to bring to Nepal to give to the poor. As her memory worsens, her scarf that she knitted were either too long or too short, but she always knitted with so much love. Each one of our houses has a knitted tissue box cover lovingly knitted by her.
My mum loves handicraft of any sort. She even made one handbag by carefully stringing together bead by bead. She has made coin purses for us using very tiny beads. It is something that I will always treasure. She had excellent eyesight and great patience to slowly string together these tiny beads. She has learned how to fold magazine paper to make pencil holders, swan, containers. She has also used wrapping paper and cardboard to make beautiful boxes that we could store our trinkets in.
Mum used to sew a lot as it was her livelihood to supplement the income of my dad who was a taxi driver. As children, we would help her to cut the thread off the garments and help her to tie up piles and piles of garments. When she is sleepy, she will have a container of water next to her to wet her eyes so that she can continue sewing. I used to help her to bring the garments to the factory where she will beg the owner for more garments so that she can sew to support us. She showed so much love and resilience because of her love for her children.
When I started my first job, it was only 5 minutes from my home. I would go home each day for lunch with a hot meal lovingly prepared by my mum and then have half an hour of beauty nap before I return to work. When I became a Christian, my mum knew that I would not eat food that has been offered to her gods and that I would instead prefer to go hungry. Due to her great love for me, she would tell me when I return home from work that she had set aside for me dishes that she had not offered to her gods so that I can eat it. She even tells me which is the food has been offered to her gods and told me not to eat it. The love that my mum had for me knows no bounds.
I remembered that one day when I was working after a year of completion of my “A” level, I was made aware of the opportunity of taking a day release course in the Singapore Polytechnic. I did not have the money to take the course. I was just telling my mum about the course and she encouraged me to take the course and that she will pay for it. My mum is one person that believes in the importance of education. She did only 1-2 years of education and so did my dad. However, she sent all her children to English schools. So, though she has never studied English before, However, she always tells us, “Don’t think I don’t know what you are saying in English. I understand everything.” Though she is not confident in speaking English, yet she understands English very well. She loves to learn and sometimes when the grandchildren are learning Mandarin, she would also take part in the recitation and writing as well. If my mum had the opportunity to be educated, I am sure that she will be very successful in everything that she does.
Mum was sewing all my dresses until I was married. We used to go shopping together. She would help me to choose clothes for me to try in the changing room. If I come across a dress or blouse that I liked, she will examine the garment inside outside and then confidently she will tell me that I don’t need to buy for she will make one for me! I always have the latest fashion. As mum has never had formal training as a seamstress, so she will let me wear what she had sewed and then made adjustments so that it fitted me exactly. My regret is that I have never taken up sewing as I prefer cooking. When I was in high school during the Home Economics class, I had to learn to sew a skirt. I was not very good at it and my mum was the one that finished the skirt for me! Mum loves sewing so much that she asked me whether I wanted a sewing machine as a dowry or a TV. Of course, I chose the TV which lasted for more than 20 years (Now, they don’t make TV like what they used to!!).
When I was pregnant, I have a craving for anything sour and spicy. My favourite is my mum’s Assam Pedas cooked with small pomfrets. My mum is a Baba so she is very good at cooking Baba dish, though compared with her sister, she said that she is the worst cook. She taught me how to cook many Hokkien dishes such as braised pork, popiah, etc. I did never learned how to make Bak Chang though. Nyonya Bak Chang and popiah are my mum’s favourite. She always feels that what she has eaten in Perth is not up to her standard. She loves her Nyonya buah keluak. Again, she attests that only my brother in law’s buah keluak is the best.
My mum did my confinement after I have given birth to my son. She taught me how to hold the baby’s head while washing the hair and how to blurp him. My mum showered so much love on me and that includes ensuring that I bathe with some onion and herbs at the end of the confinement period so as to get rid of any wind in my body so that I will not suffer from rheumatism when I am old.
When my family decided to migrate to Australia, my mum even flew in with us on our first emigration flight to ensure that we settle in. She even gifted us some money to start our new life in Perth. Such is the love of my mum!!!
As mum grew older, she had to use a wheelchair. Whenever I visited her, she would say that she wanted to go downstairs and “walk walk”. Bringing her for a walk include bringing her to the market to eat her favourite century egg porridge and sugar cane drink. Mum loves anything that is cold. She loves coke even more. This love of coke runs from her to me and to my son! After eating, we would buy another takeaway of porridge and sugar cane drink.
Mum liked Western food as well. She loves her KFC and her Swenson’s ice cream. I would bring her to the KFC in Jurong but because the outlet is not wheelchair friendly, I have to rely on some kind soul to help me lift up the wheelchair. I have always managed to find a cheerful helper. Her favourite is the KFC chicken drumsticks and of course the cold soft drink (preferably Coke or Pepsi). I would ask her to take out the skin as it is too hard and not healthy, but she insisted on eating the skin as she said that is the best part. It gives me much joy to see her enjoying KFC with her cold drink.
When I look at her lifeless body in the coffin, I don’t want to remember her that way, but I want to remember all the good memories of her and to cherish her love for me. Mum, I will see you again one day in heaven. This is just a temporary goodbye and I love and miss you so much.
Thanks for writing this lovely note of mum’s love for her children. Lets not forget her love for her 24 grandchildren and 10 Great grand children. Although, I have grieved at her funeral, I have yet to fully shed enough tears for our loss. Your writing today brought more tears to my eyes as I realise I have yet to have fully cried for our loss.
Many of my friends have not even been told of our loss and I did not think it was something to post on Facebook as I believe it is a private matter to be shared by the family.
However after reading your words , I felt I had to share your feelings and your beautiful words for Mum.
We were all so lucky, the 10 children, to have felt her love.
We have to thank our siblings in Singapore who looked after her, especially Lawrence and Irene and Noor.
We know that she was loved by her sons in law and daughters in law too.
Grandson Wang Yang said she had 3 golden eras after dads passing 31 years ago.
When she lived with Seng and Chuck Mui. When she lived in Perth especially the times with my mother in law at Burswood. And then with Lawrence and Irene and daughters in her last few years.
I will always treasure and remember how she brought us up through tough times.
Her pawn tickets that she had from pawning her jewellery to feed us will always have pride of place in my office conference room.
We all know she will be missed by the family. Love you mum.