Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Mother's Heart

One of the most impressive women I know in Sibu is a lady who has a fantastic heart for her children and a filial heart for her mother-in-law. She has put own self as low priority and lived a life which served the generation above her and the generation below her.

The western world has written about the sandwich generation, the group of women who have to look after their own children and at the same look after their aging parents who may already be experiencing their second childhood. In this situation the women do not have their own time and self actualization . It has become a social phenomenon in countries, especially Britain where the extended family is not the norm. Usually when women become the sandwich generation, they are more often than not left by their husbands who usually cannot tolerate the extra burdens of their wives.

Hence many of the members of the sandwich generation are also single mothers, left on their own to survive in an even more challenging world, financially, spiritually and socially. And all too often, they are in dire straits.

Having said so much, I would like to get back to this particular mother who has a special heart.

When she found that her husband had gone away or "disappeared" for reasons best known to himself, she was left with five growing and school going children to look after . She took everything in her own stride and was advised by her very good brother to be patient. Her own family , although not wealthy at all,supported her in every possible way.

I believe that when she hanged her husband's photo in their small living room, in a small rented apartment, it was a kind reminder to her children that their father was still in the picture. Her husband had also lost their family property and savings.

She looked after her children until they grew up, went overseas to study even and then gotten married and have families of their own.

At the same time, she never failed, every day to cook for her mother in law. When her mother in law was bed ridden later, she would take the food to her bed side and feed her, spoon by spoon. This she did for more than five years. She went everywhere on foot. At noon she would be sending food to her mother in law and in the evening, she would again do the same. The journey was not too far, but to do something that she did, twice a day, 365 days a year and for so many years,it must have been a gargantuan feat. She would carry an umbrella and walk very slowly in her slipper-clad feet, her tiny frame moving so fraily. It would seem that a wind would blow her away any moment.

This saintly lady never lost her patience and she was very very cheerful at the same time. I have always wondered where she derived the strength to do all that she did. Her love for her children enabled her to be a giant among women.

Today, her unmarried sons are looking after her and she is enjoying, finally her well deserved old age. She continues to care for her children and grand children.

This woman is a very good example of a very strong Foochow woman who has great fortitude and determination, a woman who can even sacrifice her own happiness for her loved ones. Her greatest happiness is to see her children become useful citizens of the society.

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