I grew up with a single mother and a brother 7 years my elder in the 70’s. I idolized my brother as he was thrown into the role of “man of the house” at a young age and my mum was my hero. I guess you could say I was a momma’s boy to say the least. I loved my mother with all of my heart and as I grew older and my brother started spreading his wings, I started to get torn with everything going on in my world.
My father was a very successful business man in Asia and did his best to stay in touch with us via letters, letter tapes and the monthly phone call but the truth be told our relationship lacked from his absence. I was very fortunate to be able to travel overseas twice a year to exotic locations with him, his wife, and for a while my brother too.
Life was a contrast. I lived at home with Mum and we struggled financially but our house was full of love and laughter. Regardless of whether we were eating a feast, or our usual eggs on toast with a smiley face thrown somewhere on the plate we always laughed. Twice a year I would go and live the high society life with my Dad. I remember the guilt I used to feel leaving my mum to go on these trips knowing how spoilt I was going be over the next 3 weeks. She encouraged these trips although the tears at the airport saying goodbye were always plentiful. I would return home after a great trip with a pocket full of cash, leftovers from my allowance or cash birthday gifts (which was ridiculously generous while I was away) and I would proudly hand it over to mum to help cover us for the next couple of months. It felt good to contribute to our survival.
At age 9 my life was turned upside down. Out of what felt like nowhere, I was sent to boarding school. This was a huge adjustment and one that I loathed with every ounce of my being. I had to fend for myself in a hostile environment because I wasn’t like the others. Most of the kids were from wealthy backgrounds and were not of Pacific Island decent like I was. I was considered a “rock ape” in their eyes. It was tough but every couple of weeks Mum would visit for the day and that was enough to keep me going. I blamed my father for sending me there and every time I got beaten either verbally or physically (which was frequently) I would curse him for sending me to this place. I didn’t understand…
I didn’t get it until 4 years into my “tour of duty” and I was at home for a holiday. I walked into the bathroom and watched in fear as my mum fumbled with her hair as tears fell from her eyes. The beautiful thick, long curly hair that I fondly remembered was replaced by this matted and tangled wig… it was leukemia… now it made sense. They sent me away to protect me from finding out, but finding out felt like deceitful dagger gilded with jagged lies. Once I had wrapped my head around it, as well as a 13 year old kid could, I swore to look after my mum always!
5 years go by… my relationship with my father is not positive. I put him through complete hell challenging everything I could, disrespecting my stepmom (who is quite possibly one of the kindest, most understanding and generous ladies that I have ever met). The fact that she had been in my life from the age of 4 was disregarded at the time. I can still hear my mum’s voice, always in the background constantly telling me to go easy on him while she lies in this weakened state. Her leukemia was cleared, but the new diagnosis of with lung cancer was fatal. My life was in turmoil. I’m 18. My hero is slipping away from me and then one year later she is gone. I buried my mother December 26th some 24 years ago and I still miss her dearly.
3 years ago I entered into a new relationship and into a journey of gratitude. It is a journey that I am committed to for the rest of my life with the love of my life. As part of my constant growth, I always look for the lesson learned in every situation that I encounter. Sharing this article here is the perfect time for me to ask that question “What lesson did I learn from losing my mother?” A tough question! How can you ever gain from losing someone you love? I have and the answer now is so clear. The gift I received was to be able to have a loving, caring and honest relationship with my father. He is a great man who has ALWAYS done the best that he could given the situation. He is a man who I am proud to call my father and I consider to be one of my best friends.
To my Mum: I thank you for stepping aside to allow me to build a relationship with Dad, which I’m not quite sure if that would have been possible if you were still here. I love you, miss you and thank you! I am truly grateful.
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