My story

She lives in her own world of worries. Practically about everything on her weight, appetite and other things that may sound out of this world to us weighs on her mind. Arthritis also got the better of her. Her limping condition, her mood swings, resulted from the deformed joint, frustrates her and she would vent it out on her family members scolding them for no reasons. These child-like behaviours goes on umpteen times in a day.

Her son who is closest to her receives the brunt of it aside from her husband. There are many times in the public when he has to bear the loud insulting comments when her frustration act up. He thought it was very embarrassing and humiliating at first. But he manage to look beyond that as her mum is already suffering and being with her is the least he can do. So he would smile and move on. He has grown immune to the stares and glares from the masses and these outdoor trips still continue.

To others, she is a difficult woman. To me, she is my mama.

Many years back

Once, while asleep in her old fashion arm chair, I sat down next to my mom and curiously swept aside her fringe. I saw how time and hardship had left traces on her face. How her hand wrinkled and hair whitened in such a short time after she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. During that time, she heard voices that were only audible to her. I even thought that she had created those stories about the people around her to seek our attention. I blamed myself for not bringing her to seek treatment earlier. I was simply too preoccupied with my own life. I would eagerly take a cab from my home to my girlfriend's(a few km away), but wouldn't even walk over to the mall (100 metres away) to pack food for my mom. I would work or party and return home late just to find her asleep. Day in day out, time slipped past this way.

My discovery

Some of us (including myself) work all day all night, carving their career, aspiring to be the next higher salaried employee. They hanker the BMW 7 series after they get hold of the 3 series. They would unnoticeably ignore their loved ones and focus on the pursuit of their material needs and wants. Some may think that they are doing all these for their loved ones' sake ~ to accumulate enough wealth for them to live comfortably.

Enjoying the fruits of labour is one's rights. However, what happens if one is blinded by materials? Neither a highend mobile phone or exquisite IT gadget makes me truly happy for long. After a few months of hype, the novelty dies off. After going through many cycles of chasing after material needs, getting them and aiming for something else, I realise I don't need a lot to be happy. What truly makes me happy or feel light are the thoughts that my life and that of my treasured ones are filled with love. And of course having a fit and healthy body to fulfil the above.

[Question: What does our family want from us? And what do we expect from them? I hear some common answers. More quality time together, closer family relationships, more commitment... I bet with my last dollar, some of you may think like me that you need to provide more money for them. Right?]

After marriage, some start their own family and in the pursuit of their happiness may unnoticeably drift apart from their parents. They claim credit for all their successes. They have forgotten if not for their parents, all these would be simply impossible. They leave the old folks to falter in a one-room "cage". Others even "disown" their sickly parents fearing that they will be dragged down and left behind their peers in terms of wealth and social status.

True story
[65 years old Mr Lee's eldest son earns over $10,000 a month but gives no allowance to his dad claiming his huge amount of expenses to cover. Yet junior Lee still manage to travel extensively up to 4 times a year. He still ask for Angbao from his dad during the Chinese New Year. Mr Lee has to drive taxi, a physically and mentally taxing job, to make ends meet.]

...Yet, most of us grief when our parents/ loved ones are gone. It is always the case how we wished we could had do more during their presence. Right? Let's be clear about this. Which company will give us a grand funeral after we work to our death. My guess is we will be forgotten as soon as the new replacement comes in. OR when our end comes, will we regret about the incompleted assignment or that district 9 condo that we failed to possess? I am not discouraging you to work hard or be less ambitious in life. In fact, we must do our part as students, salaried employees or bosses to give our best shot at what we do and at the same time enrich our lives with challenging goals. The thing here is to recognise though that there are more than that in life. And spending time with our loved ones and loving ourselves, in my opinion, must be one of our higher priorities.

[According to a Straits Times poll (Singapore) published on 4 April 09, the top regret at death is not spending enough time with loved ones.]

My actions

I don't take family for granted anymore. They are my top priority. I show my love for them whenever I can. I engage in conversations with my father, I listen to my mum's nagging which I know is love showed in a different way, I hold her hand and walk her to the mall whenever I have the time or if she asks, I listen to my wife and stop my net surfing whenever she needs a companion to watch her favourite serial drama. I have also mentally captured a few visuals of my daughters smiling and would regularly flash these on my mind to lighten my mood and feel light during the day. Whenever I eat a sumptous meal outside, I will think of my parents and get some for them if it's suitable. They deserves to be pampered too.

How about you? What will you do for your parents and family?

I setup holdinghands.sg to spread the message of filial piety, the importance of showing love and to be simply happy.

Friends asked, " There are many individuals who are better examples, why spent so much time and money to do this? Who will read this? "

My reply," As long you ponder whatever is written in this website, I am grateful that I have shared and contributed even if there's only one of you."

Join Holdinghands group in Facebook to help spread the message to your friends and loved ones now.

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Chin Hock (Holdinghands in the Media)
Founder of Holdinghands and Filial Piety Award Recipient 2013