A Tribute To My Mother

by Patrick Liew on June 4, 2012

I want to share with you about my Ma (mother).

Ma was a young girl from Kulai, Malaysia when she married my Papa. It was an arranged marriage.

… They met ‘officially’ only once before the wedding and under the watchful eyes of the matchmaker. Papa confessed later that he secretly went back to the village and observed Ma behind the trees.

Ma saw him but kept it to herself. They both knew they wanted to live their lives together.

Ma had to leave her village for the ‘big city’ of Singapore. Her love for Papa grew over the years but unfortunately, so did the hardship.

Ma had to struggle to help support our family of seven children and an ageing mother-in-law. She worked as a construction worker and laid mosaic tiles for individual homes as well as multi-storey buildings.

In the days of old, Ma had to walk up and down buildings every day, often with a bag of cement on her shoulder. She would come home tired, sweaty and with dirt all over her body, but there would be no rest waiting for her.

She still had to do a lot of housework for the family. Yet, I have never heard her grumble about her sacrifices for the family.

It was as if she had accepted her lot. It was only years later, when I became a father, that I realized she did it out of love.

As a traditional Chinese mother, she did not articulate her love but it was felt by all of us. She gave us all her love and still, there was more to give and more than enough for all of us.

Years later, I realized it was in Ma’s womb, I first found the security to face the world.

Through Ma’s heart, I found the love to share with others. On Ma’s lap, I found the courage to challenge the odds and fulfill my calling.

I have never seen my parents quarrel with one another. They had an understanding that they would settle all their differences in bed and behind closed doors.

They would never carry any of their problems out of the bedroom, and especially when they were with us. While Papa might burst out in anger and frustrations every now and then, Ma kept pain and sorrow in her heart and would not allow them to affect us.

The fondest memory of my parents was watching them trying to secretly slip out of the home in the middle of the night for supper and to spend time with one another. I could feel their love and joy when they returned from their ‘escapades’.

I was sure Papa had many flaws but Ma loved him anyway. She never complained about him and would stand by him all the time.

One tragic day, Papa had a sudden heart attack. He collapsed besides Ma and passed away almost immediately.

It was heart wrenching to see Ma after Papa left her. It virtually tore the soul from her.

Ma lost her only lover, companion and friend. She lost, more than anything else, the essence of her heart and it took a long time before she could recover from the tragedy.

I felt Ma’s grief – a deep-seated sorrow that she and she alone had to bear.

Once again, she bravely suppressed the pain in her heart as she frantically arranged the final farewell for all of us. It was only when everybody had left, Ma wept.

She cried softly and painfully to herself.

Later, Ma had to get rid of everything in her bedroom. She had to move to another room.

She could not bear the pain of seeing anything that reminded her of Papa. Every now and then, she would break down in tears.

I have not seen a greater love between two persons of my parent’s generation. They were an amazing couple and through their love, they taught me what it meant to love unconditionally and to love right to the end.

Even though we were poor, there were always laughter with Papa and Ma. As a poor family, we might not have the luxury of time on our side but still, we spent many happy days together.

Papa and Ma gave me beautiful memories that I will always treasure throughout my life. There were nostalgic moments that I will always hold dearly in my heart.

They inspire me to create magical moments for my loved ones and for the people around me. I want to help produce great memories for their lives.

As an entrepreneur, one of the best gifts I can offer to my clients and colleagues are pleasant and lingering memories of their experiences with me. I hope they will always look back and recall good times we spent together.

The seasons may change. Seas will rise and fall. Winds will always come and go but I know Ma’s love will always be there for me.

There’s nothing I can ever do to repay all that Ma has done for me. I can only say from my heart, thank you.

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.


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