Day 2 : 24 Mar ’15
The news finally broke yesterday morning after weeks of monitoring his condition when he was in the hospital. I woke up to find my mobile phone full of messages. I felt uneasy looking at the amount of unread messages from all my groups on the Whatsapp. To be honest, I totally was expecting that he might not be able to witness Singapore’s glorious celebrations on National Day, the SG50 that each and everyone of us are looking forward to. I thought that I would be non-chalant about it. After all, he is just a Public Figure, somebody I know as Singapore’s 1st Prime Minister, somebody whose name frequently appears in the news throughout my entire jaded life. Why should I be bothered too much?
When he was reported to be critically ill, I cried once for him. I cried again when somebody spread false news of his death. It doesn’t help when my bestie is also a crybaby when we talked about his health condition and the kind of people out there who would be cursing an old man who is reported to be critically ill. Don’t these people have any heart nowadays?? I began to partially shut off Audrey when she brings up the topic. I chose to end the topic with short, one sentence conclusion, and telling her it’s sooner or later and not to think too much. I didn’t want to think about it as I don’t know why I was crying. But I cried buckets.
I was totally wrong. What I did not expect was that I would cry so badly for him when the news sank in. Each time I read about him on my Facebook or think about him, tears welled up in my eyes. At times, it was uncontrollable and I ended up sobbing, even when I was on the train with the little one sleeping peacefully on my lap and the macik sitting opposite obviously saw but tried not to watch me.
Now, I can tell you, little ones, that Mr Lee Kuan Yew is not just any Public Figure, not just our 1st Prime Minister who led and shaped Singapore. He is not just any husband or father out there. He is a great man with a vision so far that people say he is unmatched. He is the man who gave me and my family such a safe, clean and peaceful environment to grow up in. I am blessed for being born and brought up as a Singaporean. He is a doting husband and father. Not only that, he has played father to millions of Singaporeans who are the sons, daughters, grandchildren of the nation. He set things right for us by dedicating his entire life into politics. He put Singapore on international playing field, yet made us maintain our roots through 2nd Language. Singapore is a tree that he planted, nurtured and fertilized. This tree is now a 50 years old and it provided the shade and shelter for my family and many others.
This note that Mr Lee left for his children, touched me deeply. No TV drama, fairy tale or mortal I know of has ever imagined this.
“For reasons of sentiment, I would like part of my ashes to be mixed up with Mama’s, and both her ashes and mine put side by side in the columbarium. We were joined in life and I would like our ashes to be joined after this life.”
As I read about how he would carve out time for his wife during her last years as an immobilized patient, it left me wondering if my husband and me would be so loving when we are old. It also left me ashamed especially after purposely picking a fight with him over carpark entrance when he was sending the kids and me to MBS to catch the Beauty and the Beast and was prepared to wait 2.5hrs for us. The fight left both of us very, very, extremely mad at each other. It also made the kids very afraid of their father for 2 days even though they didn’t do anything wrong. Perhaps it is high time I learn to be a good wife and role mother for the kids. To my children, “I’m sorry. Pick the right battles, and fight not all.” Pls do not learn to be unreasonable like your mummy and learn not from your daddy to stomp off from your family in times of communication breakdown.
I am grateful to Mr Lee, for having made education compulsory and geared us towards world class standard where everyone will get their chance if they work hard enough. My dad migrated to Singapore with his uncle (we called him grandfather) when he was 3 years old. He survived WW2 and the hardship that followed. He grew up in villages, coolie quarters, and attap houses and then rented flats after marrying mum. He did not have any education but learnt Chinese language on his own. My mum was born in Perak, Ipoh and became a Singaporean when she was a small child. Back then, my mum was considered to have come from a well-to-do family and had a Chinese education until teenage years, something like our A-Levels. Poverty and hardship, followed by improving quality of life, also made them realize that education is important not only for boys, but for girls as well. Without education, mum wouldn’t be able to guide me in Maths and Chinese. Without my parents’ tireless effort in funding, I would not meet my husband in university, nor would I be enjoying life now as a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM). Without education, I would not be able to enrich my kids’ preschool years and coach them in their school work. For this, is something that many young people have taken for granted and not cherish their schooling life. Instead, they have used the pen (keyboard per se) to curse an old man, who is also somebody’s husband, somebody’s father. My heart ached for this old man. Because of this, I would educate my kids to cherish their opportunity to be educated. They have the chance to get into one of the top University in the region. I hope that my kids would be useful and kind people and can contribute to our society when they grow up. One doesn’t just curse somebody’s father/husband to die. Continue steering the ship in his absence. Don’t be the thrash in a country he so painstakingly built up.
Mr Lee made it his personal mission to campaign for a clean and gracious society. We grew up with Singa the mascot for courtesy campaign and learnt to throw our litter only into bins. Prior to terrorists threat, we had bins all over the country. No one can hardly find any litter bin within and at public building entrances. It is inconvenient, yes. But I wouldn’t trade convenience for unsuspected threats. Now, our public area is still generally a clean place and rides on public transport is simply pleasant because there is no dirty tissue or drink cans on trains and buses. Without this moral education inculcated in us since young, our country would be as clean as some S.E.A. countries.
Day 4 : 26 Mar ’15
I have decided to stop crying. I fell sick. I told myself I have cried enough and it’s time to move on, to continue life as a proud Singaporean no less, to live well and to guide the kids well. Here, I am sharing my most favourite video of Mr Lee as a form of remembrance. The video has his voice, excerpts of his speeches, and his laughter.
The Soft Truth of Lee Kuan Yew – A Tribute to a Great Man with BIG Heart
Dear Mr Lee, rest in peace. We know that you have gone to a better place. A place that reunites you and Mrs Lee forever. ❤
Lots have been said and tributed to Mr Lee. I need say no more since I can’t write as well.
~ SAys! Shirley