Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mother's Day -- No gifts but a thank you!

You can't miss Mother's Day these days. The commercials in the media start at least a month before. How many pieces of jewellery can one buy for her/his mother? I don't believe in going out to a restaurant on Mother's day either -- it is a sheer ripoff. Countless other families are out there, buying their moms massive meals. The service is often bad and the food sub-standard even at the best restaurants.

So, I stopped fussing about Mother's Day. I have long decided a phone call per week to mom will be my routine until she dies. Mom frets when I don't call after a week. She has "hunted" me down, via friends whose phone numbers she sas.

I stopped worrying about what mom thinks. That is not to say I don't care about her. I do. How can I not when her lessons make me who I am or who I am not. We have our share of tensions but mostly we are best frieds, and we share many hours of gripe, fun and laugher over the phone.

** Mom is a stauch believer in "Never eat beef". Bah? What nonsense is my rationale. Her belief stems from an old Taiost/Buddhist/folklorish devotees' vow not to eat beef as the Goddess Kuan Yin's (Goddess of Compassion) father was supposedly reincarnated as a cow. Hence out of respect to this beautiful goddess, the vow of not eating beef. I don't normally cook beef at home simply because my cooking repertoire comes from mom, and beef wasn't ever in her menu. But my logic is if you can eat pork or chicken, then you can eat beef...So the same rationale goes down the drain too for those who don't eat pork. Sigh.

** Mom, the extreme lover of clothes. For me, clothes are necessities. How many pieces of clothing does one need? Mom needs many. Mom does not stop buying clothes. She sends us boxes of clothes. They sit in the closet, unused for years. I have basics and a few pieces that I am attached to. Once in a blue moon, I set out to Farmers or Stax to get something nice. Not often. Just once in a while. I love whites, and clean cut clothes. Mom loves "drama" in her clothes. Beads, ornaments, embroidery. She can never get enough of them. Here we are poles apart. Like cheese and chalk. She used to make me 15 dresses/outfits; one for everyday of the 15 days of Chinese New Year.

** Mom is a consumate cook/entertainer. Mom cooks in gargantuan proportions. She doesn't just cook. She caters, always. Our family meals are never simple. On festive occassions, cooking starts a week before with grocery shopping. Preparation time can be counted in eons. Cooking time, unbelievably long. I love entertaining too...but I am a lazy cook, and I love simplicity. So when I cook, I cook only what I can manage. But my friends tell me I overcook -- so I carry my mom's genes, afterall.

** Mom can take hard knocks in life. Mom married my dad, as a second choice. Her first love was someone from her childhood. Her father, in his mypia, forbid the courtship. Then dad came along. I would say mom has carried lots of burden -- the burden of first love lost, the burden of raising us, the burden of always having to make ends meet, the burden of always having something to worry about, the burden of ensuring all the traditions are kept, and all looks nice on the surface. She should be learning ballroom dancing, going singing with her friends and going to Chi Qong classes. Instead she is earthbound -- by my brother's 2 young children. She brings a cook meal to my niece everyday during morning tea time! Her agelines grow. Her sleep is always short. She hasn't been truly given a chance to relax. She deserves a bloody good rest!

** Mom is a Keeper of Oaths. Mom is never a tale tatter. This was her biggest and most valuable lesson to me. "Never carry a tale, especially when it causes hurt," she always says. I thank mom for that. Very often, I think about this and cherish the lesson.

** Mom the ever loyal friend. Mom is born in the year of the Pig. One of her characteristics is loyalty. She doesn't ever turn on a fried, never. Once, her friend "ran" off with a couple of thousands of dollars in a scheme of "ton-tine" (A self-regulated investment scheme commonly used by Chinese women to raise money.) Her friend couldn't repay the money owed to the scheme. In all her kindness and magnanimity, mom allowed her friend to repay back the money over a period of time -- it took all of 15 years or more....How generous is that?

** Mom the story-teller and muse. Mom loves to sing, loves Chinese opera and Korean drama. She loves story telling. When we were kids, we used to perch around her, listening to stories she read from Chinese newspapers -- following tales of romance, tragedy, horror and the grotesque through her voice. She was a consumate story teller....My favourite was and still is Butterfly Lovers, a story of star-crossed lovers who found a kind of redemption in the end. Tragic but breathtaking in its beauty and pathos.

So as we celebrate Mothers Day, I remember mom's lessons to me. "We should always remember there will always be living better than us, don't make comparisons that would cause you unhappiness." So her lesson is contentment.

"We should always keep a secret told to us in confidence." Here is a lesson in privacy and loyalty.

"We should always give the best portion of food to others." Her generosityt puts me to shame.

So, here's to all our mothers who make us who and what we have become. No wonder the Buddhists reserve the highest dedications to all mothers and mother sentient beings. Happy Mothers Day mom!


  1. A very well said piece of your mu ... she certainly is amazing. I hope she knows that her daughter of this thinks highly of her and she should be very very proud of you - which I'm sure is.
    You have a happy mother's day Lady and I'm very sure Julia has been saying the fantastic things about you now and when she grows up too.
    You're a good mother too and I know it.

  2. Thank you! Princess has had the benefits of spending time with my mom, and knows of mom's devotion to her! At the moment, Princess thinks I nag too much! :O)

  3. Hi! Been delinquent in responding to your email so this posting triggered more than a sense of guilt :)
    Your words remind me of my late mother who passed on almost 14 years ago. Mothers of that generation -- they are a special breed. You still have yours, so cherish her and make her feel it.

  4. Hi KH, your mom was lovely, I remember her vaguely, with specs? And a wonderful tonal laugh -- !! I remember your dad -- driving with one leg, the other tucked under his bum! LOL
    Hope you do something nice with wifey and kids on Mother's Day.


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