A Poem For Mum

My weighty burdens you helped carry
And led me across a perilous journey
Till I was soundly safe and comfy
And then you left me quietly

The infinite pain in my heart
When we reluctantly had to part
Flung me into sorrow and despair
And made each day difficult to bear

Exactly one month since you left
Thirty one days I have been bereft
Of your loving motherly touch
That I yearned for so very much

It felt as if it was only yesterday
We had much to share and say
To bring joy into each other’s life
Where laughter and bliss were rife

You are one truly remarkable being
Versatile, intelligent and inspiring
In you I found the strength of mind
To overcome obstacles of every kind

Yet now I am forlornly searching
For that very strength in surmounting
This difficult trial that has come to pass
The pain that is so hard to get over alas

So with tears of blood and anguish
I tender my most heartfelt wish
That you have found perpetual calm
In the comfort of Jesus’ loving arms.

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

In the late-sixties and early-seventies, Mum and I used to lived in a rented room in a big plank house in the outer suburbs of Ayer Itam. The house had a big compound. Mum reared chickens and cultivated bananas. We had a raised platform that was bed. Mum would cook in the kitchen and we ate in the room. At night, a large mosquito net was strung over the platform that we slept on.

Mum would lullaby me to sleep while patting my buttocks. Night after night, she would hum the same tune that comforted me so much. As I grew up and we moved out of the rented room to a brick terrace house, I would still catch Mum humming the tune while she was sewing or doing some other chores. Mum liked to sew. She would make dresses for herself and those that she knew. She would also make pyjamas, quilts and curtains.

Sometimes, I would unconsciously hum the same tune that Mum used to lullaby me with. I did not know the significance of the tune. I thought it was one of those old songs that Mum liked. Whatever it was, the tune seemed to make Mum happy while she was humming it. It did the same to me.

During Mum’s Funeral Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the congregation sang a very familiar tune. There and then, I realised that all these while, Mum had lullabied me to sleep with a very popular Christian hymn titled What A Friend We Have In Jesus. It took more than thirty years for me to realise what Mum have been inculcating in me all those years. I am sure Mum was very comforted wherever she was when the hymn was sung in her honour.

You Are With Jesus Now

Two days before Mum passed away, I was prepared to let her go. To see her in such a state hurt me deeply. To see her struggling for every breath, struggling to swallow, and lying there on the bed in such a vegetative state was too much to bear. Even then, I was hoping that she would wake up. Even if she does not recover fully, even if she was bedridden, I was willing to look after her for as long as it takes.

I know right up to the end, Mum was still worried for me. She was not willing to let go but she was too tired to fight anymore, her body ravaged by leukaemia. For most part of her life, she lived only for one purpose ? to look after me. I should have learnt to be independent earlier so that she need not worry so much.

On Tuesday, one day after Mum came back, one of my cousins invited a priest to perform The Sacrament of the Sick on Mum where she was anointed. Although she did not attend Mass regularly, Mum was always a Roman Catholic at heart.

The night before Mum was called back to be with the Lord, the Prayer Group from the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit came to call upon God to ease Mum of her sufferings. At the same time, I was meditating for her to be healed. Towards the end of the prayer session, I had a vision of Mum, smiling and being led by two angels. That was not what I had prayed for!

Late Thursday evening, Yanti came to tell me that Mum had drank all the fortified drink that she fed her. I went to take a look at Mum before calling it a night. I found Mum’s breathing laboured and got Yanti to turn her to her side. When that did not help, I called my cousin Peter who stayed one floor below me.

Peter came and then went back to summon my uncle and his family who had travelled all the way from Melaka to see Mum. They came and started praying for Mum. Mum’s breathing became increasingly slow and weak. I kept telling Mum not to be afraid and that it was all right to let go.

I held Mum as she breathed her last breath, kissed her gently on the cheek and whispered softly into her ear, ?I love you Mum. Thank you for everything. Do not worry for me, I know how to take care of myself. Go in peace. You are with Jesus now.? Those must be the most heartbreaking words I have told Mum, ever.

Mum passed on at 1.45am, surrounded by her loved ones.

A sudden gnawing emptiness filled my heart as I hugged my uncle and cried. Part of me died together with Mum. It was she who gave me life. It was she who nurtured me from a baby to what I am now. It was she who gave me everything. It was she who led me up from the chasm of depression when I became paralysed. It was she who looked after me for eighteen years, and then another eighteen years after I broke my neck. She devoted half of her life looking after me. And now she is gone forever.