Lately, many people have expressed their sympathies about my mother’s 5-year battleagainst liver cancer and leukaemia. However, I realized after she passed that I am grateful to have spent so much time with her during this last chapter of her life. Save perhaps for the last week of her life, she and I would spend hours yum-cha almost every Sunday about everything we could, as if we were making up for lost time.
After this Sunday brunch, I drove her back to her Sheung Shui house. And we sometimes started out by talking about life as a young girl, as a student, as a soprano in a choir, as assistant for her father and eventually as an accountant for one ma-Jong entertainment establishment with outlets In Yaumati, Mongkok and Kwun Tong. And always she would end up gossiping my father’s imperfections, of course, when my father was not around.“Whatever you do,” she would say, “make sure you express love your dear ones.’ They were just mild ventilations. Like every good woman, she quickly forgot those little gossips and kept on caring again everybody, including my father.
“Mom should have no regrets and he had seen the world,’ said my elder sister. Indeed she had travelled much more than me. But she travelled with one reason: she was caring to 'baby-sit' her grandchildren so that we could really enjoy ourselves during the holidays. ‘Mom, are you done yet? You should give yourself some good rests. Don’t come with us to Canada this time. It is just too Long a trip. Go somewhere nearby like visit your relatives in Guangzhou with Pa,” my little sister once said. So even though she had so manygrandchildren to feed, bath, take them to school, and help with homework (sometimes all at once), we had no doubt that our mother loved her children, grandchildren, as well as her great grandchildren, as much as humanly possible. No matter what else she was doing, she went out of her way to spend one-on-one time with each of us.
The best thing that she has left behind for us is her example. Most people who knew her would be surprised to learn that she struggled with cancer and leukaemia. Herconversations with me as her dearest son, I always believe, seem to have detailed the feelings of her eventual leaving that plagued her in every aspect of her life. But even with all of her challenges, she faced the world with unparalleled hope and optimism. Paul, who is my best friend, said, “I always remember her joyful face and big smile.” Yes, indeed she always had that big smile.