When she married my father there wasn’t much to look forward to except for the fact that living on a farm you will always be able to put food on the table so long as you work for it. Whatever you plant in the ground, the good earth will nourish it and give it back to you. That was just after the Japanese occupation and money was a scarce commodity. And a groom carrying his bride on the carrier of a bicycle was a common occurrence. But somehow, Pa managed to get a car to bring her home.
So, in the years that followed, she resigned herself to do whatever a farmer’s wife had to do; till the land and worked the skin off her hands alongside her man. Even though she was brought up a town girl she made no fuss about blisters and calluses, or insects and caterpillars crawling about the place, but learned to adapt to the life, and raised a family of eight kids along the way. She shouldered her share of carrying heavy loads in addition to the washing, cooking, cleaning and sewing clothes for everyone. And she would only take it easy when her pregnancy got too advanced. By then her best friend would be the village Bidang (midwife) who had to be summoned to help with the delivery.
To us kids, she was the doctor, nurse, confidante, cook, house-keeper and peace-maker (whenever we had our differences to settle among ourselves), and protector when dad goes on the warpath and got too severe with the punishments. Often she’d be the paramedic whenever we got hurt, injured in accidents, stung by insects or bitten by animals. With what little education she managed to get, the only silver lining for her sometimes cloudy skies was the ability to read, write and learn the lyrics to her favorite songs that were popular then, and sing to us while rocking us to sleep in a cot that used a bicycle’s inner tube for a spring and suspended from beam in the roof.
The rough life made her into one tough lady who would take no nonsense from anybody, but she was always ready to forgive and forget, turn an adversity into a challenge and any awkward situation into a joke and shrug it off with a hearty laugh.
Now, she’s enjoying the autumn of her years taking life easy, going to her favorite karaoke sessions, dancing club and daily morning walks with Pa and their veteran’s group. She’s managed to travel to places that she once dreamed about and did most of the things that she ever wanted to do and more. God bless her with more of these golden years for her to enjoy.
So, here’s to you Ma. You’ve earned it all. Happy Mother’s day!