My Mother, My Guardian Angel
August 11, 2014
I have a few distinct memories of my childhood – feeling very much alone and not understood by anyone, and wondering why I was the only one among my classmates to have to walk to and from school by myself in kindergarten (both parents were at work, a latchkey kid as most of us were at the time). Most of all, I remember my parents arguing downstairs in the kitchen, while I did my homework in my room upstairs (this is why music is so important to me, it was my rock). I would often doubt if my parents really loved my brother and me, or at least doubt they loved me, wondering if they just went through the motions of raising us because, well, that’s what responsible Asian parents do.
When my father came down with acute leukaemia and the doctor told me he wouldn’t last, watching him transform overnight from a vibrant, dark-haired 60 year old who looked all of 50, to an aged man with a shock of white hair, I realized I had never told him I loved him. Growing up he was always away for work, and I avoided his hugs when we did see each other, as they felt awkward and uncomfortable. As my family and his brothers and sisters flew back from Canada to say their last goodbyes, I remember making myself tell him I loved him, finally embracing him of my own accord (both still felt quite awkward!), and worrying that he was too dazed to receive my message of love – that is until he saw my brother and the first thing to come out of his mouth was, “How much was your plane ticket here?”, followed by “What are you doing here? Why did you waste money like this?”. That’s my dad! Frugal to his deathbed (maybe that’s why God spared him and he’s still alive and kicking today!).
And in the years following, too many things happened to make me cry. After I gave birth and discovered the wonders of motherhood, and the all powerful mother’s love for her child, I wondered, and even asked my mother, did you ever love me like this? Did you ever hold me as if I was the most precious thing in the entire world, as if I was your entire world? As my kids grew up, and I somehow found the energy to take my kids for outings no matter how busy or tired I was, she told me how she would make a point to take my brother and I to different outings. Funny how people have selective memories, I only remembered the yelling and loneliness, and not my mother’s sincere efforts to give us a happy childhood (she has proof in our childhood photos). Just like this video clip, after years of a combative relationship, I too found comfort in my Mom’s love. Now I make it a point to say “I love you” and hug my parents when I see them – it took a lot of practice, and now no longer feels awkward. And just a few nights ago I called my mom, now my best friend and biggest supporter, and as I spoke to her about some recent challenges I was facing, I wondered (and even shared with her), who can I talk to about these things when she’s gone? (Tears dripping down my face as I write this on the bus!).
Last Saturday, I went to the lobby with my daughter to see her off for her Saturday event. She ran back to me in tears as she expected to face a personal challenge that day and wanted me to be with her, because she trusts me and knows I will love and protect her. And so the cycle begins anew, I’m just bringing the ‘I trust my mom and know she loves me completely stage’ up about 30 years.
Thanks Mom for being my gaurdian angel always, it just took me a while realise it.