AT the tea ceremony on our wedding day back in June 1986, my wife and I were given an ang pow with just a token sum of money.
There was a note in it that read, “If you fight on one side of the bed, remember to always make up on the other side. Love and forgive.”
We took her advice seriously.
To this day, I am thankful that she was the first person to remind us never to let the sun set on our anger, whether in a marital relationship or any other relationship.
Over the past 30 years or so that I have known her, this woman has passed on to me much wisdom, not only through her words, but more importantly through her actions.
She showed me what sacrificial love was about in the way she cared for her loved ones.
She knew how to live simply, so that others may simply live. She was also the supreme peacemaker. I have never seen her get angry at anyone, or over any situation.
She was a physically strong woman, taking the bus to various homes to visit her grandchildren, when she was well into her 70s.
And she had this incredible memory that allowed her to remember all our birthdays and telephone numbers by heart.
Her long, fruitful life began in Ampang before the family moved to the heart of the city.
She worked as a teacher and raised 10 children.
She was a dedicated teacher of the English language and many students remember her with fondness.
At home, she inculcated in her 10 children the spirit of love, sharing and caring. Like my mother, she went into the delivery room nine times, but had one extra child as she gave birth to a pair of twins.
There were tough times, but she never complained.
When the children were small, she would, the moment she came back from school, forget her tiredness and promptly cradle and breastfeed the youngest one.
Managing the household was a skill. There was a particularly lean time, she told me, when all the cash they had in the house was 10 sen – just enough money to buy bean sprouts for a meal.
But her children did well. All of them grew up, found good jobs, married and had their own children.
And they never tire of telling me of their mother’s great love that drew everyone in, and of her uncomplaining nature.
She was their supreme defender (heaven help those who dared to raise a finger on her kids) and their confidante. And I am always impressed by the fact that her sons spoke out as passionately about her as did her daughters.
While I never saw her in action during those days, I did see a lot of her interaction with her grandchildren.
And she seemed to have carried the sacrificial nature into the next generation at a time when she should perhaps relax and enjoy her golden years.
Her grandchildren were her greatest joy and she commuted at least three times a week from the heart of Kuala Lumpur to various parts of Petaling Jaya (by bus, despite our protests and insistence that she use a taxi) to take care of them.
She had been through a lot yet she personified the true grace of supreme sacrifice that she believed motherhood to be.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, she prayed for me daily. She was a simple woman of faith, but a powerful prayer warrior indeed.
This woman would have turned 98 in April.
But on the first day of Chinese New Year, God called her home.
This woman was my wonderful mother-in-law who blessed my life with her youngest daughter.
I will miss her tremendously but her legacy lives on, in so many of us. Soo Ewe Jin The STAR Home News Sunday Starters 22 Feb 2015