We just celebrated Mum's 81st birthday last November 2012 and we were very glad that all her children and grandchildren with the exception of Brendan were able to return to Johor Baru to celebrate this auspicious occassion. Mum is an extraordinary person and she is very loving generous and friendly person. Her popularity amongst friends and family is evident by the number of guests present at the birthday dinner. ( approximately 500) Though she did not receive any formal education, I believe her values and knowledge are better than many educated people.
During our recent Chinese New year reunion, she was able to enlighten me of her hard life. As a child she was given away by my grandfather. If I am not mistaken she was only 8 years old when she given to another family with the plan to be betrothed to one of the sons. That family according to her treated her reasoably well and even brought her back to China. However when they wanted her to migrate back to China, she went back to her father pleading to return to her natural father. Grandfather must have been more enlightened by then and decided to buy her back and accepted her into the Chai family in Senai.
Mum is tremendously patient and have also been very hardworking throughout her life. She is a good cook and had been cooking for her family since very young. She told me she had to wash the family clothes manually at the Senai river when she was young too. She had a high threshold of pain and once she fell and was bleeding but all she did was to immerse her leg in the river and once the bleeding stop just carried on walking normally.
Mum had been a very stable magnet to all her siblings and even my father's relatives. Many of my cousins still keep in touch with her even though they have migrated overseas. She is very hospitable and though we were poor she did all she could to put meals on to our dining table.
Although she was pretty scared of doctors and suffered from cataracts for many years. She would avoid treatment as far as possible. She would not complaint but my wife Kar Im sense something was wrong when she could not locate her items in the kitchen, During one of her visits to KL, she had no choice when the opthalmologist had to operate one eye in an emergency. Subsequently my sister and brother persusaded her to do another treatment in JB and her eyesight is much better now.
Her favourite hobby is playing mahjong and this had helped keep her senses even at this age. She is so good at the game then even when she could not see, she could read the mahjong with her fingers and can play the game normally.
Mum is always looking forward to extend her love to the family including her 7 grandchildren. She always ask after them and am sure that she prays hard for all of us.