Heart and Soul: Mother – a gift from God


The writer with his mother at his Masters graduation. Photos: Victor David

Heart & Soul
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The role of mothers embodies a divine presence within a family. Bringing forth a piece of their very being into the world, they stand witness to the first breath of their child, an honour bestowed by the Almighty. This unfolding process involves complex changes, both physical and mental. A mother's ability to endure pain with unwavering determination, coupled with her deep bond with her child, illuminates the extraordinary capacity of a woman’s spirit.

I am the firstborn in my family. My mother told me that I was a "forceps baby". I only understood this term when I became a doctor. It involves the use of forceps to gently guide the baby through the birth canal. This is usually done under life-threatening circumstances for the mother or child. In my case, it was my large head which refused to budge despite the due date.

My mother Lydia Michael, a product of Convent Green Lane, Penang, and who trained at the Institute for Medical Research in KL, dedicated over 30 years to serving as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in the government hospital's Blood Bank.

During her shifts, she often brought me along, guiding me in my studies amidst her duties. She'd prepare me for the Standard 5 Assessment exam. After our study sessions, she'd treat me to a bowl of pasembur, followed by a tour of her laboratory. Through her guidance, I learned the intricacies of blood work, from drawing samples to ABO blood grouping and cross-matching. She even taught me to handle a microscope and identify the components of blood.

The writer's mother with her lab colleagues.The writer's mother with her lab colleagues.

She was also part of the medical team that conducted Malaysia's first HIV screening in 1986. Her contributions and hard work paid off when she was conferred the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian by the late Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah of Kedah. Coincidentally, I received recognition from the same ruler for obtaining 5A’s in the Standard 5 exam, thanks to my mother who constantly monitored my studies.

The writer's mother receiving the PJK award from the former Sultan of Kedah.The writer's mother receiving the PJK award from the former Sultan of Kedah.

It was from her that I developed a passion for Medicine, eventually earning my medical degree and a Master's. I am immensely proud and grateful to have had her witness my accomplishments.

Sadly, her time with us was cut short, and she now rests in a peaceful place. While I still long for her presence and wish she could have stayed longer, I understand it's selfish to dwell on this. She fulfilled her purpose, completed her journey, and fought a good fight on earth. Now, it's my turn to honour her legacy by fulfilling my responsibilities to my own children.

As Mothers Day approaches, my heart is filled with both joy and sorrow. Joy for the precious moments we shared, and sorrow for her absence in my life for the very first time. Though she no longer walks beside me, her love and nurturing spirit continue to guide me. I cherish her words of encouragement, the values she instilled, and the memories we created.

She was more than a mother; she was also my greatest source of strength, a guiding light through life's ups and downs – truly a gift from above.

I am grateful for the countless sacrifices made by my mother. She is loved beyond measure and missed beyond words. A part of her lives in me, and that will always be my greatest treasure.

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers. Stay blessed and thank you all for doing a fabulous job.

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