I am stepping away from the topic of education for this blog and focus on the two weeks that I spent with my mom whilst she visited me in Singapore. The main purpose of her visit is because of the opening of my project but also it was my goal to give her a wonderfully relaxing time away from the difficulties of daily life. This trip is well deserved – a few months ago, my father suddenly passed away and because of that my mom diligently travels a journey to the mountain city of Baguio to patiently endure the trauma and sadness of the court trial of my father’s demise. Aside from that, last November when her trip was supposed to happen, she was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis. DVT is a blood clot that occurs deep in the vein that makes walking unbearably painful. DVTs predominantly occur in the legs and may have no symptoms. DVT may go away naturally, but the most serious complication can affect the lungs and become a life-threatening. She was bed ridden for a couple of weeks and it took a while before she was able to fully recover her motor functions without pain. I am happy that she is able to walk again as if nothing happened.
My mother has always been a fighter, determined to raise us kids in the highest standards of ethics and intellectual pursuits. I owe to her my determination, my desire for learning, my love of the arts, culture and current events and the passion for education which eventually made me decide to pursue a master’s degree.
For this trip, I brought her to a couple of museums, brought her to a funeral (a bit morbid but culturally enriching), showed her what PinkDot is all about, treated her for a really nice weekend in a 5-star resort, brought her to the futuristic garden that I help design and build and let her explore the city by herself in some days. I have let her experience Singapore, probably different from the usual tourist route. There are always great things about a city, there are also the not so good things and I guess that is life. It’s not what you imagined it to be but at the end of the day it remains beautiful in some way.
One night last week after a long day of exploring Sentosa and enjoying the view of the sky scrapers of Marina Bay, I spoke to her and said like this, “Mom I think at some point I will get married. I am not yet there but I probably will.” That was the beginning of a long discussion of my plans which led to a reflection of her marriage with my father – the joys, the difficulties, the questions and the resolutions. At one point she shared with me another life, a life when she was younger, engaged to another man who was living in Canada and her decision to go there to get married and in the end, she came back to the Philippines broken-hearted but resolute that she is not supposed to marry her fiancée. I listened to her patiently realizing one thing – she is not just my mother, she is also a woman with her dreams and aspirations, a woman with a past that she can look back to, a present that she experiences and future that is unknown. She is an individual just like me. As an individual, she cannot just be seen in one mold. She is multi-faceted and real. She is not this figurative individual that I call mom which I would expect to get advice from or will prepare me food when I am at home. She may also want to live a life of meaning, pursuing what she believes is right and what she is passionate about. She can actually be a really good friend that may sometime need my advice too or alternative point of view.
This thinking is so similar to the novel “Please Look After Mother” which she read and shared with me a few days ago. As the Korean author Kyung-Sook Shin wrote as thoughts of a daughter about her mother who they lost in the busy trains of Seoul:
“…I have so many dreams of my own, and I remember things from my childhood, from when I was a girl and a young woman, and I haven’t forgotten a thing. So why did we think of Mom as a mom from the very beginning? She didn’t have the opportunity to pursue her dreams, and all by herself, faced everything the era dealt her, poverty and sadness, and she couldn’t do anything about her very bad lot in life other than suffer through it and get beyond it and live her life to the very best of her ability, giving her body and her heart to it completely. Why did I never give a thought to Mom’s dreams?”
This realization provided me a certain truth: if I see her as someone like myself, I am able to see her in a different light. Although she is a generation older than me and she has raised me to become the individual that I am now, we swim the same seas of our day-to-day life and whatever will be life like after my father’s passing, she has that same power to choose her own path to reevaluate her own purpose and life meaning. She can reinvent herself or keep herself as she is but the main thing here is that, as a child of hers and as another human being, I am here to support her and ultimately love her for who she is and who she will become, whatever that will be.
I hope that the future will bring her good things, new and exciting experiences and i hope she pursues her dream or best, create new ones. The world is hers as it is mine and I can’t wait for her to smile and say, life is still good, whatever happens.