My mother turned 48 on 14th October. This post isn’t about her birthday though. It’s about her.
It is often said that behind every successful man is a woman. I would consider myself to have achieved substantial success by now, because just not too many years ago and long before that, I only dreamed of it.
And it seemed very impossible at that time.
Many guys my age would think it’s macho to say that their girlfriend
or a hot chick is behind their success. But I am not ashamed to say that the woman I owe my success to is none other than my very own mother. It would have been ungrateful of me if I didn’t acknowledge her on my blog at all, so here it is.
Mom came from a very poor family and is the 2nd eldest among 4 of her siblings. Life was simpler back then and she had the blessings of many relatives. Life was hard though; her father was a taxi driver and her mom was a dutiful housewife, like most women at that time.
My grandfather died in a car accident when Mom was in her early 20s, and later my grandmother would succumb to diabetes along with other harsh illness in the hospital ward. That being said, I never had the chance to see my grandparents alive.
Since my mother is an introvert by nature, she hardly associated with other relatives as she grew up. As a result, for many years I believed that my family was very small indeed. I knew of only 2 family of relatives and a single Uncle. It was only last month that I learned, to my surprise, that I actually have more relatives and cousins than I even imagined. I am happy to say that they are doing incredibly well with their freight forwarding business in Klang. It’s a pity that I will probably find it hard to communicate with them – apparently my family is the only “banana” whereas my relatives speak Hokkien and Mandarin, and are Chinese educated at large.
But I’ll save that ‘interesting encounter’ for some other time. 🙂
Anyways, life for my mother had been a fierce struggle right from the start. The poverty in her family was just but a small beginning. Eventually, she got to know my father and they got married even though my father had been notoriously know for having a bad temper. Later Mom and my uncles would go on to discover that my father is also a compulsive liar and committed polygamy.
My mother’s marriage with my father had endured a long history of verbal and social abuse until my father finally ‘let go of the chains’ in 2003. In spite of learning that my father had a secret affair with 2 other different women (and moving on with the 4th later), my mother still chose to forgive him. And it didn’t take her much effort to do that, to my surprise.
Everyone who knew of my father’s gross actions, myself included, were already flared with anger. But Mom still chose to forgive. In 1996, she accepted Christianity as her faith and the 3 of us – my mom, sister and I – were baptized in a Catholic Church.
Though Mom gave him many chances to change, my father became more bold. He would go home with wearing another woman’s engagement ring in one of his fingers, and still took advantage of my mother’s kindness. Because my father was running an above well-to-do business at that time, and shoddy I must add, my father would use my mother to create fog screen and lies for him when people and clients would call our house. She couldn’t help but comply because ultimately, we all depended on him for money and Ashley and I were still schooling toddlers.
It seemed like the whole world came crashing down on us when my father finally declared a divorce on my mother after a night of quarrel, but little did we all know that it was the start of a journey to better life. But it wasn’t without its own perils.
My mother’s meager academic qualification and age made it very difficult for her to get another job. I was only 16 going 17 at that time, and Ashley is 2 years my junior. We already lost one family member right from the very beginning so the challenge was to hold everyone together, or there wouldn’t be what’s left of us if we didn’t survive the ordeal.
Admittedly, Mom had made some not-so-bright decisions even though she had good intentions for her children. I had been rebellious, needless to say, and sometimes we stood on opposite ends in our discussions that could affect the family’s future.
But casting those differences we had aside, I still acknowledge that my mother single-handedly pulled us all together. Her abundance of patience is still beyond me even to this day. I hope I will find out one day. It’s not easy confessing this: I have a short temper like my father, too. And when things go wrong or not as planned, man, I could really speak colorful words. 😉 Only my mother had the magic touch to calm me down.
Now that I am reviewing it all… it’s really amazing. My mother didn’t have the benefit of going to college let alone university. Even I think she’s not that academically brilliant. She doesn’t read Self Improvement books. Yet she is still one of the wisest people alive that I know. “Faith in God,” she says.
I remember eating at the various dining tables, accompanied by family of my friends. It was always interesting to observe my friends’ parents and I couldn’t help but make comparisons as a million thoughts would fleet in my mind. I won’t deny that I used to be jealous of friends who had both parents when I was in school. Though little did I know myself, I am actually blessed and lucky after all – right from the start.
Most mothers today are joining the trend of going out to work like their male counterparts. So most parents outsource their parenting duty to babysitters, caretakers, tuition teachers, etc. you name it. Subsequently, many children today grow up without developing a closer bond with their parents.
That is why I am thankful that my mother never gave up her responsibility to teach me and my younger sister to anyone else. The most capable hands already belong to her. And in the face of adversity, she never once thought of giving us up. I know of single parents who resort to taking shortcuts like consuming drugs, giving away their child and even committing suicide.
Her unshakable faith in God is another wonder to me. While I have my own opinions on God and religion, which differs from that of my mother’s, her strong faith has earned my highest respect. She never once doubted God when life was in the pits, or when everything came crumbling down on us like a house of cards.
When we had little money and were poor, my mother would cook porridge for dinner. I know many kids would say that their mom’s cooking is the best, and I share the same opinion of my mom’s cooking.
Although porridge is actually a poor man’s food.
While we could afford to buy better food today, my mom’s porridge remains my no. 1 favorite at heart. And she can now add more ingredients to spice up her porridge! 🙂
As I am writing this, my mother and sister are about to leave for an 8-day holiday trip to Beijing, China which begins tomorrow morning. One of my uncles will be joining them, too.
Mom had always told me of her dream that she wanted to see the world. And she had been telling me that for as long as I could remember. This is also one of the many reasons that motivated me to work hard and become successful. What my father failed in his duty as a provider to the family, I would fill in.
Not counting Singapore and her brief journey to London, she has yet to see the rest of the world. I’ve been to a few different countries this year alone and Ashley has seen Japan the year before. Now I want to give Mom the same privilege to experience different cultures. I honestly think she deserves more than that after enduring more than 40 years of suffering and trial by fire. But this is a good start and I know there will be more good things for her in life to come.
There will be. 🙂
Mom at the Royal Air Force Museum, London