She tried not to let out too much of her anxiety; more so for the benefit of those around her than of her own grievances – that is just how she is. I suspect, she may likely be more worried about how her distress may upset the family, more than how the condition is essentially scaring her. Such is the makings of this woman of steel, to always think of others more than herself. I remembered the night before the hospital admittance, when she is supposed to be in bed early to prepare for an anxious day ahead, she was still busy cooking in the kitchen when I arrived at her home close to midnight. When asked what she was doing so late at night in the kitchen, her simple answer confirmed my quick assumptions, that she wanted to cook enough food to last my dad and brother for a few days while she’s away at the hospital. This selflessness is so distilled in her essence, it is hard not to be amazed by it no matter how often you have the privilege to witness and be at the receiving end of her selfless servitude, first hand. This is who my mother is, always has been, and undoubtedly always will be. Despite trying to hide her worries, every so often, a word or two let slip her nervousness about her current condition – a feeling that is present in the deep labyrinth of her emotions, a feeling she tries hard to conceal, but not always successful to the more watchful eyes. Considering what she is going through, who wouldn’t be, she is after all just a human, not impartial to feelings of fear and fretfulness. Cancer is a scary notion to anyone – and to a 67 year old woman who rarely ever needs medical intervention for whatever reason, it is even the more daunting.

I had to take my hats off though for the way she gracefully accepted her fate, always counting her blessings and feeling thankful that it isn’t anything ‘more serious’ as she puts it. Whatever anxiety she may have in the deep recesses of her minds, she successfully downplayed its seriousness to a degree of mere inconvenience rather than a frightful tragedy. She has always been a strong woman. It makes me proud to see her spirits did not wane by the kind of news over which most others would have dejection befallen them. I know she amazes people around her with her positivity – and we could not help but be sucked into the cheerful bubbles she is blowing our way. To be precise, she will only be turning 67 in roughly about 7 days. I may not be verbally eloquent in brandishing feelings of love and affection, but in writing I have been able to have a more expressive show of emotions and to my mother, she deserves to see a semblance of what meanings she has in my life. Of course, words could never do justice to the real raw emotions I have but I can only try my best to match it so she knows, despite my lacking in verbal affection, my adoration for her is by no means small. As she sleeps on the hospital bed next to me, looking so rested and serene now, I feel compelled to put into words the feelings I have. To celebrate her 67th birthday and her duly successful battle with carcinoma, I write this as a loving tribute to the woman I call Mama.

Mama, has worked all her life. Up till now, she knows not, when to stop; or maybe even how. Verily, she is not yet given the luxury to do so. I feel inadequate (as I’m certain all my other siblings do too) over this. But at her insistence, and out of necessity she braved on the corporate world, taming its conundrums with her unwavering spirits. I do not doubt she will continue for as long as she can to be useful and earning as long as she is able, even when she no longer has to. For as long as I can remember, way back when, and still is, to date, she is almost always the first to arise in preparing the household needs for the rest of the inhabitants at any given time, despite usually being the last to bed, after having made sure that everyone is settled before she retires to her needed slumber. Yet, her energy is resolute; and shamefully leaves mine wanting in comparison. I wonder how greatly the machination of her motivations has been working her to efficiency; by virtue, my own drive pales considerably in contrast. Indeed, being a third her age means nothing when her earnest vigor is unmet by me, a supposed youngling. I occasionally brood over my incompetence when judged against her multitude of abilities. I suppose being a Gen Y slackened my working threshold as opposed to her era of origin: the forbearing patrons of baby boomers. I know this is merely a sorry excuse on my part to weakly justify the glaring ineptitude I have shamefully acquainted myself with; but until I can be just as admirable and spirited, I really have no smarter reasons to defend myself with.

She is the source of much inspiration to us and I can vouch this admiration about her extends far and wide beyond the family ties. I know not one soul who would speak ill of her, and I don’t see any reason why they will want to, but countless individuals who have had the good fortune to cross her path, albeit very briefly for some, have spoken of her fondly and with good respect. In fact, on the rare occasions in the past where there were those who were less amiable with their disposition towards her, have been turned 180 degrees– she has been known to turn intended foes into fast friends. More astonishingly is her ability to be liked by many parties who may not necessarily be at each other’s good measure – always the bridge that calms and tapers the rowdy currents pushing each other beneath it. My mother she is also suffused by absolute kindness, a trait not many around her is privy too. Her countenance in fact is an instant giveaway to the kind heart she has, a face warm with hospitality even if she may joke about being otherwise. To be honest, I personally think that maybe, or even, most absolutely, she is much too kind for her benefit, and that which is her strength may also very well be her weakness. Too often I have been guilty of feeling impatient with her utter kindness – something that more often than not, puts her at the brunt of disadvantage and careless exploits by some selfish beings. But she is always so well meaning and oft forgiving, it drives me irritable beyond comprehension sometimes as I accuse her of not fighting strongly enough for her rights. Despite that, she never blames anyone for anything, but herself and her inadequacies. Its baffling to a disagreeable extent to me, but eventually I came to accept, the reason we all love and admire her so much is because she is who she is, flawed-kindness and all. I may not always be apologetic at my short temperedness over her overt sense of charity, but I think she knows the reason we (my siblings and I) get upset about it sometimes, (even more so than she rightfully does), is because we are merely thinking about her well being. In any case, if she gets to read this, Mama, I am so sorry for all the times I got irritated and blamed your extreme kindness for your misfortune begotten by others.

Mama doesn’t always have it easy, but is nothing but thankful for everything, all the time. She is a woman whose choices are never easy; they’re not meant to be; and she dealt with their complexities with the grace of a grateful being. Always quick to count her blessings and even quicker to bestow others with services she herself may very well be insufficient with. Back when I was a student and have less comprehension for the hardships of earning a living, I remembered my mother trying her best to accommodate our wants and needs to the best of her abilities. In fact, she probably tried very hard to exceed our expectation as I recalled the many times I have gotten twice the amount of allowance I asked for, always giving more than is demanded whenever she can in order to allow us to make much use of the extras for our necessary benefits. Now that I myself am a working mother, looking back, I realized how very difficult it must have been for her to keep not one but 5 studying children all financially self-sufficient. She is always that obliging to provide us with not just the needs but also the occasional wants. How she managed beyond her financial capabilities, God knows. I strongly suspect that because she is never miserly, always generous, that God graciously keep her abounding, for all things is God’s doing. Having said so, I suspect I may have inherited slightly this trait of perpetual feelings of obligation I sometimes associate with weakness. Always feeling like it is my duty to be of service first before receiving any. I used to think it’s a fallacy on my part that I have to always feel obliged to please. But my sense of gratification (which I sometimes think is as much a flaw as it is a fair trait) is no match to hers; while I am more jaded and less-convicted in comparison, Mama’s obliging mannerism is more absolute, almost with pure innocence. No amount of age could make her any more jaded than me it is astonishing she could have gone through life deficient of heartaches from any of the ill-intentioned advantages taken on her – but that is hardly surprising knowing how carefree and forgiving she naturally is, she mostly never take things to heart, especially things of the past. She may occasionally lament her past misfortunes, but once in a while when she catches herself doing it, quickly reminds us (and essentially herself, I am certain) that she could not be more thankful for all the other blessings, which in retrospect, is more blessed than anyone could hope for.

There’s no end to recollecting her greatness, nor do the words justify their pure essence. I am certain as she reads this, she is more inclined to brush off these compliments and deflect the flattery to being trifling in nature. I am positive however, that she will secretly revel in our adoration for her as her children, a testimony that she has done well as a mother. She is not always perfect as a human, but in our eyes, even if she could do some wrongs as any human could, she’s the best example of a good person to emulate, admire and be inspired with. In my life, she is indeed the person who inspires me the most. She teaches morals by herself practicing them. And as a mother, she is always there for us, whether we want her to be or not, plainly because she knows she needs to be there.

I take pride in having such a mother. Indeed most of my close friends I have, love and respect her as a motherly figure and are always thankful for the warmth she exudes in their company. Despite the age gap, I could not imagine having a more supportive and sporting mother. Now that we’re all grown up, she is more than just a mother to us, she is our friend, our faithful companion. This isn’t the first I’ve written of her so lovingly – it certainly won’t be the last. In her journey to battle breast CA, we will all be stronger as a family, fighting alongside her because this battle is not hers alone; it is also ours. If you’re reading this, whoever you are, please also pray for our success(es).

To Mama, even if we may not tell you often enough, there’s never a doubt in our hearts that we love you very much.

Happy 67th birthday Mama. Love from all of us : MAS & MIJI, FATIN & AKHMAL & ADAM, AMIR, SHAFIQ & EZZAH


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