What did my grandma go through as a young woman? And how was her relationship with my mom, that shaped my mom for who she is, as a mother to us?
I found my family's history greatly fascinating. This blog is an ode to my grandma's life and her sacrifice for her family.
My great grandfather owned a sundry shop "Tong Tai Loong" in the humble town of Seremban where there were many Hakka immigrants from China. My great grandfather accumulated his wealth with many rubber plantations, and also a pig farm. (I remembered visiting the pig farm, seeing the piglets and going to a nature toilet in the middle of the fish pond.)
He had good relations with the Tuanku (King of Negeri Sembilan). Actually, I remembered playing the piano for the Queen when I was young, a kind lady she was. My mom continued to visit her until she passed away.
Due to visa issues, my grandfather stayed in Thailand all his life, being away from his family. Great grandfather pre-arranged his marriage in Malaysia. My grandmother had a sweetheart but had to obey her family wishes. Heartbroken, she travelled from a small town Bahau to Seremban and married into a huge, bureaucratic Chinese family. She talked about her sweetheart until her last days.
Throughout the years, my grandfather remained in Thailand but visited occasionally to Malaysia. Through these visits, my grandma managed to give birth to 3 daughters, my mom being the 3rd. As my great grandfather needed sons to take over his family assets, my grandmother did not have a great standing in the family with no sons (yet). Imagine the disappointment my mother received, just by being born? Naturally, we did not inherit any of the assets from my great grandfather - they went mostly to our granduncles.
One can only imagine the immense loneliness, helplessness and the pressure my grandmother felt, with children in tow, without her husband by her side?
Finally, she made the difficult decision to join my grandfather in Bangkok to start her new life with him together, but had to leave her 3 daughters in Malaysia under the care of my great grandparents (since they had more than enough resources)
In the next years, my mother, with her sisters are now in a big family without their parents to defend and care for them. My mother felt unloved, un-pretty, lonely growing up. She tried to be strong and worthy in her own way, to get attention and love from others.
A big part of my childhood trauma is feeling abandoned, unloved, lonely. I tried to be strong and worthy in my own way, to get attention and love from others. Now, I know my loneliness and disconnectedness growing up, came from my mom's loneliness, which came from my grandma's loneliness. I still carry their great longing of connection, their grief and fear of rejection.
It took a lot of years of self-work to help me see my story in a different light, and my ability to forgive my mum. I now developed greater compassion and love for my mom, and also her mother who did her best to give and provide love to her children.
If you are on a similar journey and am wondering why you are carrying so much load from the past, don't despair. You are also carrying all the blessings from your family generations before you.
The below by Deepak Chopra stirs my heart as I meditate on these words, "I ask my parents and ancestors up to the origins of my family who had difficulties due to lack, to bless me and give me permission to live differently."
"I also ask my parents and ancestors up to the origins of my family who had abundance and prosperity, to inspire me."
Have you spent the time getting to know your mother for who she is, and your grandmother? What were their hopes and dreams?