Sunday, April 18, 2010

Letter: Daughters are a parent’s assets

EVERY mother, I guess, would hope to have a daughter primarily due to the belief that daughters would take care of their parents better.

I don’t really know how true that is.

I come from a small family and have two brothers. Being the only girl, I’m the one closest to my mum and I was my Dad’s girl when he was alive. However, my elder brother is the favourite of my parents and the younger one, as usual, is treated as the bongsu (youngest child).

My brothers and I are now in our 50s and have our own families. My elder brother migrated to the West with my mum after my father passed away. I migrated to Malaysia because of marriage and my younger brother stayed back in our home country.

At first, it was difficult for my mother to overcome her longing for her children because we couldn’t all be together to see her regularly due to financial constraints. I communicate with her through letters and phone calls. I had the opportunity to visit her in 1997 (after eight years) and then again in 2008. She managed to be reunited with my younger brother after 15 years.

Now she’s 85 years old and with that comes the typical problems of old age (and sometimes it’s only daughters who can understand). She has won two battles against cancer but lost her battle to partial blindness and deafness. And because of this, communicating with her through letters and phone calls is very tedious on her part.

Being away from my mum and not being able to care for her needs, especially her emotional needs that my elder brother and family cannot fully satisfy, hurts the most. It is at this point that I realised that an emotional handicap is harder to face than a physical handicap.

Every time I see aged women, it brings tears to my eyes and I long for my mum. When I see daughters taking care of their aged mother or parents, it pierces my heart so deeply that sometimes guilt overwhelms me. And it becomes worse whenever my elder brother asks me to talk to my mum because they can’t tolerate her “stubbornness” any longer.

I always envy people who are able to take care of their aged parents for I believe this is the best way to “pay them back” or fulfil our filial obligation for the good life they have provided us. Whenever I go for my medical checkup, it eats at my heart seeing daughters who are able to care for their parents and to see the parents who are lucky to have such daughters. And my heart goes out to the aged who have nobody to care for them.

And because of this, I tend to treat my friends’ mothers as my own and I have a soft spot for the elderly. It warms the cockles of my heart to be able to call somebody who is physically present, “mum”.

I am also a mother and I have two wonderful sons. And that is the reason I know how mothers feel. Often I ask myself, “Are daughters really a parent’s assets?” There may be a big generation gap between parents and children but I know that in one’s heart of hearts, this gap is invisible.

Well, I guess I would say that whatever the distance may be, my loving, caring and understanding mum never demanded that I take care of her. She always has our best interests at heart. And I hope that when my husband and I reach that stage, we would be blessed to have someone with a heart of gold to care for us when we’re incapacitated.


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