Ten years ago, I lost my guiding light.

Everyone grieves differently, but I don’t think anyone can ever truly get over the loss of a loved one, especially one who’s been taken from us far, far too soon.

When I first started drafting this post, I was gonna write all about the day I found out Mum had been diagnosed with cancer and the ups and downs that followed, but you know what? Let’s scrap that! Today is all about celebrating the life of my teacher, my friend, my beautiful Mum.

Mum’s on far right

Mum was one feisty lady. She was known as the “little chilli” at school, and my uncles and aunties would tell you she used to discipline her younger siblings with a hanger… That said, as a parent, she was always strict but fair, so thankfully I never received that treatment from her!

I know a lot of people would say the same about their own mother, but Mum’s honestly one of the smartest people I know. Although a self-confessed “big lazy snake” (a Cantonese phrase), if she put her mind to something, she’d always excel. She was an outstanding athlete at school, a beautiful singer, a natural linguist, and had an equally successful career in a multinational bank as she did with her own fashion wholesale business. Perhaps there were a couple of exceptions… she was terrible at crafts and sewing, which meant I never got any help with my Art and Home Economics projects!!!

Mum was very stylish, but if she found something she liked, she would stick with it for a long time. Her signature style was cropped trousers, knitted twinsets, something sparkly on her fingers (I guess that explains my love for cardigans and expensive jewellery, lol!), and various shades of dark brown lippies (which I’m going to experiment with). Her favourite perfumes were Nina Ricci’s L’air du Temps and L’eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake, and I can almost smell the scents now just thinking about them =)

Sadly, my hubby never got to meet my Mum, so on her birthday or anniversary, or just one of those days I miss her so much I break down in tears, Jimmy always asks me to tell him a story about her. So I’m going to end this post with the story I told him last night, and it’s his favourite so far!

In Hong Kong, it’s a legal requirement that everyone carries their ID card in public. When I was maybe 8 or 9 (before the era of mobile phones), Mum popped out to the wet market to do food shopping. Hours had passed but she was nowhere to be seen, and here’s what happened…

She’d forgotten her ID card and happened to be stopped by the police. She explained that she only lived a few minutes away so perhaps they could follow her home to check it out. They told her to wait in the back of the police truck so she duly obliged. The next thing she knew, they shut the back of the truck, and she was being taken back to the police station (along with a bunch of presumably illegal immigrants)!

She was eventually allowed to make a phone call to my Dad, who, by the way, was a senior police officer (which she hadn’t mentioned), expecting Dad to say he’d sort it out with the station commander. Unfortunately, being the straight-laced officer that he was, Dad offered to drive home from the other side of town to pick up her ID card and meet her at the police station! I don’t know if Mum threatened him with the hanger treatment, but long story short, Dad made that phone call and Mum was finally released.

There’s a Cantonese phrase that describes a very angry and irritated person as “jumping like a live prawn”. Let’s just say Mum was pretty lively and the prawns she had bought for dinner were no longer jumping by the time she got home!