Some of us have a love hate relationship with our mothers. A constant struggle to keep the peace. I am lucky. I have made peace. Now I count everyday I have with her as a blessing.
My mother is frail. Sometimes I feel she is living on borrowed time. She did not wake up one morning. The doctors told us to prepare for the worst. Last year, she fell, her head hitting the floor. At 86, it could be the fall that broke her.
She is a fighter. From China to Singapore in her 20s, she has been a fighter all her life. She made her own clothes. She didn’t cook very well, but some of my favorite dishes were hers. We fought when I was growing up; she was a force to reckon with. She had a temper and could be a part of the solution or the problem.
She has been a vegetarian for almost 2 decades. She was an angry person. With my father’s passing, I thought she would be impossible. She would ask as if talking to him, “why do you have to go and die?” In her own way, she found religion. She started going to the temple and had her own circle of friends. Then she became the most positive member of the family. She has since been a pillar of strength and joy, and one of the main reasons the family members gather together.
The morning she could not wake up, there was a knock on my door while I was sleeping. Our helper, Siti shouted, “Sir, Ah Ma cannot wake up!” I remember carrying her on my back. Sitting in the front seat of the ambulance, fighting morning traffic, not going to work, but heading for the nearest hospital with an ongoing siren. It was an experience.
Every year she looks more frail, less mobile and less alert. She forgets. She remembers people and events from another time. Once when she was delirious we thought she was conversing with people from another dimension.
Every day is an adventure. Each morning, I dread the knock on my door. It can be Siti telling me something I don’t want to hear. Yet each day is another day with her. Most mornings she sits with me when I have breakfast.
Spending special days with her, reuniting the family around her, are both a joy and a form of happiness I treasure.