I often refer to my mother as Mother Genius. And here is why that I do that.
Mother Genius had just passed her 92nd year birthday a few days ago. She was in good spirit. She did not see her life as it was, nor did she see her life as it will be. She told me often that it was the present that mattered. Perhaps her simple philosophy was worth more than all the tons of spiritual books I have read.
At 92, her ambulatory movement is still good. She threads her way slowly with the aid of a quad base walking stick. Bend almost double, she suffers from acute osteoporosis. A few of her thoracic vertebrae have fused with the lumbar vertebrae in the spinal cord. Other than hypertension, she is hale and healthy.
My parents were from Guangzhou before they immigrated to Nanyang, the old name for Malaya. Both of them were highly educated during their time. They had gone through World War II, Communism in China as well as the tumultuous years in old Malaya.
We traced our roots right back to the Qing dynasty. My children are the 24th generation now. Father has passed on a few years ago at age 94. It was a sad affair. They have been married for 69 years.
Age has mellowed her sharpness in mind somewhat. But she is still very alert. Often, I ask her views on some intricate personal, financial and domestic issues. Or have a discourse with her on life-style, spiritual or religious matters, Chinese philosophy and world affairs, especially China and Hong Kong.
She always gives a balance view, never one to give in to dogmatic extremism. She is not strictly orthodox to any religion. Neither is she superstitious. In our younger days she did not adhere to any gullible traditional practice of carrying out some Taoist rituals to protect ourselves. She commended that all religion taught us to be kind and compassionate.
Chatting with Mother Genius is intellectually challenging. She has a phenomenal memory and a sharp mind. Hence, I can pour forth my grievances, my troubles, my fears and my unhappiness to her. Someone might say that it’s not right for me to burden her with my worldly troubles. I should keep my own counsel. But then, whenever I am lost, Mother Genius could see right through me. So, on her dainty shoulders I spoke my mind.
She did have some hearing problems. A few years back an ENT specialist said her left ear drum was pierced with a small hole. But as regards to her age, it was better to leave it alone. The specialist recommended her to put on a hearing aid.
However, she refused. She said that the sound of the whole world would be amplified many folds. Occasionally I have to talk loudly to enable her to hear.
Then again, I must say, that she hears every word I said to her. Perhaps, she also hears every word that I didn’t want to say. Especially on something sad, something unpleasant and something which its better to keep my silence.
Though she listens with what is left on her right ear, I think she hears it all. For she listens attentively and hears them all in her heart.
I also share with her my triumphs, my happiness, my aspirations, my dreams and my innermost thoughts. We celebrate. We laugh. We reminisce on the halcyon days of past, staying in a village, eking out a living when we were not so well-to-do. However, we were really very happy and joyful being together in a family of five, with my father and my two siblings.
I have video-taped a number of our conversations where she taught me classical proverbs and poems. Mother Genius told me anecdotes and all those strange tales of Liao Zhai and other fairy tales of Chinese deities, semi-gods and ancestor worship and religious matters, and related to me her stories of her past in China.
There are many interesting stories for me to write later in my personal journey. Just you wait…if you are interested.
Mother Genius has superb eyesight with her pair of long-sighted glasses. She reads the daily Chinese vernacular newspaper. She has her personal Facebook, YouTube, WeChat and our “Grandma Chat Group” on Whatsapp. She refers to all these social media where she is connected as “Facebook”. To her, everything on her smartphone is Facebook. She can’t pronounce the names of other apps.
She reads our messages and forwards on Whatsapp. She watches Cantonese opera, Buddhist scripts, Hong Kong concerts and old movies on Youtube. She scrolls through all those postings on Facebook. Nowadays she even gives me a Like on every posting I put up on Facebook. Whenever she stumbles on her smartphone my two great grand niece and nephew would give her a kind helping hand to get on.
Often, we will connect her on Wechat to talk to our relatives in Guangzhou. They were of course deliriously happy to talk to her a few thousand miles away.
She stays connect to her folks back home. One day, we should take her back to Guangzhou.
A week ago, we had a small celebration. Just a few of us gathered to wish her Many Returns of the Day. My two sons were there, too. They are always back home from overseas for her birthday. Eldest daughter is scheduled to be back from New York City then. The C-19 causes all travel to halt.
The 3 kids dote and adore their grandmother.
Calvin, my second son, said, “We should make a trip to Guangzhou next year to celebrate her birthday with all our relatives there. We can have a banquet at the town hall of our ancestor’s village in NamHai. We shall invite the whole village from both the families of Lau and grandma.”
Mother Genius said, “It may not be convenient for me to travel. Boarding the airplane may be a bit difficult.”
That was her genius. She would not rebuke a statement right away. She remembered the last time she traveled to Guangzhou with us on Air Asia many years back. She had to climb the steep flight stairway on the tarmac to board the plane. There was no KLIA 2 main terminal then with the aerobridge connect.
Calvin immediately caught on with her reservation. “We go in a private jet. We will arrange a doctor and nurses to be with us all the time.”
Oh! That was not even First Class on a commercial airline. That was Royal class for commoners!
To further assure his grandma, he said, “My dad’s cousin sister and her husband are both specialist doctors in Guangzhou. One of them is a National Hero as he was in Wuhan to fight the pandemic for three months. They are safe now.”
Mother Genius beamed with a small smile on her face. She followed the media closely on the pandemic in China.
Mother Genius is Great!