One last goodbye – One lesson I have learnt: October 7, 2010Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, human quality, Singapore.
Tags: family values, Ke Yuzhi, Kwa Geok Choo, Mrs Lee Kuan Yew's wake, society change, women
‘I should find solace at her 89 years of life well lived. But at this moment of final parting, my heart is heavy with sorrow and grief,’ MM Lee said. — ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN
IN THE end, there was just a man who loved his wife till the end.
He walked to her casket and placed a single stalk of red rose, green leaves still on its stem, on her body.
He raised his 87-year-old body and walked half a step towards the head of the casket, supporting himself on the frame.
Then, he bent towards her and reached for her face with his right hand. He brought his hand back to his lips and planted a kiss on her forehead.
As though he could not bear to part, he did that again. And then he walked away, composed and unaided.
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave his wife two final kisses as she lay peaceful in her casket at the Mandai Crematorium. Madam Kwa Geok Choo – his beloved Choo – had died on Saturday, aged 89, after being bedridden for over two years as a result of a series of strokes.
His kiss was a private gesture of love, but will linger in the memories of those who witnessed it, as a public affirmation of the abiding love they shared.
Earlier, in his eulogy, he spoke of their years together, as starry-eyed lovers at Raffles College and Cambridge University. He spoke too of her support as he fought for independence, and through his many years as prime minister as he and his colleagues built a new nation.
He spoke of their public life together, reminding his audience of her role in helping to draft legal documents at pivotal moments in Singapore’s history, and of her role as his confidante and adviser.
Of his private feelings at losing his wife, he would only say he would have been a different man without her, with a completely different life, adding at the end, with his head bowed: ‘I should find solace in her 89 years of her life well lived. But at this moment of the final parting, my heart is heavy with sorrow and grief.’One last goodbyeCLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE:
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I knew she was a very brilliant scholar and capable wife of MM Lee. But what I didn’t know was she even took care of the entire household inside out. Not only did she focus on the upbringing of all her children and grandchildren; she had also put in great care into her family needs. She even handpicked the family’s groceries herself, which is a rare chore to do for families like hers. More than often, groceries are taken care of by butlers or servants. Even in the heartlands where most people are just ordinary commoners, getting groceries isn’t their business. They simply just get their maids to do it. This is often one habit that I do not condone—at least on the part where children are taken care of by maids. I think these close ties should be nutured by the mother, not the maid.
Today, many people hire nannies/governesses/private tutors to take care of their children. New age parents, especially see child caring as an opportunity cost to their professional careers. For some, the hiring of someone to take off their responsibility of grooming their children, and making use of other people to care for their childrens’ needs. For that very reason alone, she is indeed a very great mother. For with a stellar set of grades and gifted talents, she could have been a star performer in her own right.
She had put in an enormous sacrifice for her family to make sure they shine before her. That is what I am impressed of.
It’s often till the death of some person that we often get to know their other silent deeds. In this case, I was impressed by the work she had done as a mother. My family had thought the same because handling both household & children; and caring for her husband’s work and all are not easy. Yet she managed to accomplish all without resorting to hiring other professionals to replace her personal touch for the family though her family clearly has the money to do so.
This is the kind of greatness that many people fail to do – sacrificing for families, and letting other shine before self.
PS: I know there are a lot of people who do not like the Lee family because they are often seen as autocratic. But in some ways there are merits that we have to recognize. I didn’t know Mrs Lee was such a great mother because I myself had thought she was hard handler. At least this came to me as a surprise. And when I heard the eulogies for her; I then knew what kind of sacrifice she had made.For that I thought I would post this simple straight thought about her. — Karen Fu