Whenever I read Bible verses that spoke of “dying to self”, I can’t help but have tears well up in my eyes.
I will always remember how my mother embodied this value while she was still on earth.
She displayed tremendous faith and trust in God, even in the face of extreme adversity.
On top of giving up career aspirations, she juggled multiple jobs to support two generations of family members and coped with disappointments by herself.
This is my tribute to her, written with love and thanksgiving.
My mother first came to know Jesus when I was five, through my uncle.
The warmth of the community in church quickly gripped her heart, as she found many truly loving brothers and sisters who would eventually be her greatest support, especially when circumstances threatened to overtake the hope she had found.
Come to think of it, it is still amazing how God called my mother into His kingdom, as this was not how life began for her.
In her teenage years, she was given opportunities for a few cameo roles in Mediacorp that came with a view to eventually becoming a full-time artiste.
Though the prospect was enticing, the earnings were not sustainable for survival.
Torn between her aspirations and serving the family, she chose the latter.
As the eldest daughter, my mother held down three jobs simultaneously to provide for her siblings.
Given the hectic schedule, sometimes she would simply choose to forgo meals just to report to the next job on time.
All these actions — done in selfless love — to give greater opportunities to her beloved family.
Even after getting married and having my sister and I, my mother never gave up this attitude.
Though life was still hard, my mother never once complained about how tough her lot was.
She would simply grit her teeth and keep on going for the sake of the family.
A typical day would include waking up at 6am to prepare breakfast, rushing off to work till evening before using the rest of the day for OT, odd jobs and household chores.
I often wondered how she ever got any “me time”.
I recall a time when I was nine, when I asked my mother if I could tag along for her “night activity”.
Because for three years, my mother had regularly gone out every night only to return with a rotten stench at 10pm daily.
Strangely, that night was the only time she allowed me to do so.
My curiosity quickly turned into horror, as the “night activity” turned out to be collecting cardboard to ensure enough money for food on the table.
I was heartbroken to discover that occasionally, she would have to dip her hands into sewage water just to collect an extra piece that she would sell for a mere one cent.
No wonder the rotten stench.
And that wasn’t all. On top of that, she had to deal with my father’s gambling addiction.
Needless to say, the negative effects of his gambling addiction took a heavy toll on the family.
My mother had to scrimp and save every penny, even constantly denying herself her favourite food on many instances.
I cannot even begin to imagine the sheer amount of stress she had to undergo.
By that time, I began wondering if God was even loving.
How could any human being be subject to this suffering if God was as loving as He claimed? Where was the love that He promised so many times in the Bible?
Yet God would answer that question through my mother’s childlike faith.
Years of overwork and stress eventually caused her to come down with cerebellar ataxia, a rare disorder that made her unable to coordinate her physical movements.
Though it would have been easy to put the blame for this disease on my father, she chose to trust in God instead and never attributed the cause of her condition to my dad.
For five years, she gradually deteriorated in muscular control, from being perfectly able-bodied to sitting in a wheelchair.
This condition would lead to her eventual passing in August 2021.
“Don’t worry, even if I die, you will see me again soon.”
Nonetheless, though outwardly she was wasting away, she was always assured of her destiny, knowing that God would bring her back to His side.
I will always be inspired by how she never lost heart. She would constantly tell me, “Don’t worry, even if I die, you will see me again soon.”
These words are now deeply etched into my heart, as a reminder of what true love from God means.
One day, all things will be made right. We will be reunited with each other, just as we will all be reunited with Christ, once and for all.
Though every Mother’s Day from now on will always be that much more difficult for me, the childlike faith that my mother demonstrated through her life is now giving me the same hope that kept her going.
Though I grieve, I do not lose hope, for I am now assured that my mother is waiting for us to see her one day.
Through my mother, I have learnt the importance of laying every circumstance on the altar, whether in plenty or in want.
We have a truly loving God who is near to us in every circumstance.
Thank you mummy, for showing us the right way to live.
On earth, you may have been given little, but great is your reward in heaven.
You have truly fought a good fight of faith and now, the crown of righteousness awaits you.
Mei mei and I will miss you, but in many ways, your legacy lives on inside all those whom you have greatly impacted.
Until we see you again.
- What about this story moved or impacted you?
- When was the last time you thanked your mother?
- This week, be a blessing to her (or a mother figure) and show your appreciation.