“Memories of Love” is indeed a tribute to a mother…or my mother….or rather my supermum, and a testament of her labour of love. Mum was married to dad at a tender age of 17 into a life of hardship, being the “tar sow” in my dad’s extended family and soon her own large family.
She experienced motherhood early with the arrival of her firstborn a year later. Other than bringing us up, i.e. nurturing, admonishing, cooking, washing (mind you, hand wash no washing machine then), sewing etc, mum had to take care of the coffee shop (Chip Seng, Tai Teong & Lam Seng) daily from 6 am-12am without annual leave or medical leave, and yes no salary too, always digging deep to find inner strength and resolve to face the following day.
Many would have given up, no shame in that, but not mum. Never once had I heard her complained, not to mention attempted to escape through divorce to pursue her own interest, further attesting to her tenacity, giving special meaning to the phrase “action speaks louder than words”. Mum had remained steadfast and strived daily to provide to her best ability for her 10 children regardless of her personal needs.
Not a mum with many words, she was a mum overflowing with love through actions, making sure that we, her children, were well-clothed & well-fed like any Foochow princes & princesses. Our present size sums it all. Who we are today is the proud fruit of her lifelong labour of love.
Mum was the iron chef of all iron chefs. Iron chefs needed the freshest ingredients and best cooking utensils, whilst mum could whip up a feast for her fussy brood using only leftovers and her ever faithful rice cooker (yes, you can cook even curry using one). One of our favourites would be “nasi tomato with mutton kurma left overnight” and of course, the ever versatile Foochow “ang chow” not “eng cheow”.
Always the last to eat, and most of the time eating leftovers that would need a miracle of biblical proportion even for iron chefs, sadly had taken their toll on her health after all the years.
If my memory served me correctly, mum’s saddest moment would be the loss of her son, Tok Hwa, my older brother & best friend (we went to ST.Theresa whilst the rest of the boys Ibrahim) in 1974, the same year my youngest brother, Eng Cheow, was born. I must say her happiest moment would have to be the few months she spent in Australia, only time she travelled overseas, for my eldest brother’s graduation, and of course, my richest childhood experience, literally as I kept all the rental income after household expenses.
Mum’s most recent joy would be the birth of her 20th grandchild, Annabelle, one day before her heaven bound journey. Mum also made sure her youngest daughter, Grace, had a chance to say goodbye 1 hour before deciding to go home to the Lord. Mum’s only failing would have to be her failure to push her children hard enough to converse in Foochow, whilst her finest hour was when she invited Jesus to be her Lord & Saviour, and the joy of worshipping Him regularly at Sg Petani Lighthouse and Kota Bharu Revival City Church.
If I can hear her whisper today, I believe it would be her hope and desire to meet her children, her sons & daughters-in-law, and her children’s children, and relatives and friends in heaven one day.
If I can sum up mum’s legacy, it would be Faith, Family, and of course, good Food. Thanks mum, and till we meet again, we love you.
(As eulogized by Tok How on 14 May 2007)