Mama’s Legacy of Diligence and Industry

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A wife of noble character who can find. She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
– Proverbs 31:10-19

When I was in kinder school, I disliked writing assignments in Chinese class. We had to write rows and columns of words—filling up every blank on the writing pad, repeating seemingly endless difficult strokes. I remember often crying through these exercises. I can’t remember my mom ever beating or scolding me, but she was strict that I write every word diligently according to the proper strokes.

As a schoolteacher, she was known for being strict with her students. In spite of that, she was the favorite of many of her students. She instilled in my sister and me the sense of responsibility and diligence to do the best we can. We were both consistent honor students. Mama never demanded that we study all the time. We were allowed to play and watch television all we want provided we did our studies first.

When my father first learned of my mom’s passing, one of the few words he said about her was: “Din mama yah kut lat.” Your mom was very hardworking.

Mama was neat and clean. The floors of our home were swept clean and wiped with red floor wax, keeping the red tiles shining bright. Dad used to park our Volkswagen right in the middle of our living room at night. During the day, no one would have known a car was parked there because the floor was just as clean and bright. Dad had to park the wheels right on two strips of Manila paper lined neatly in the room. Today, Andrew complained that I am too obsessed with having everything dust-free.

Aside from being a schoolteacher, mom helped subsidized the family income by tutoring, baking cakes, providing lunch meals for students at the school. We lived near the school. Many students either brought their own lunch or had to take their lunch somewhere. Mom thought of catering to the needs of these students. She did the marketing, preparing, and cooking the food to feed quite a few students—mostly children of her friends.

Mama was just as diligent and hardworking in her passion to share God’s Word and to witness for God. A day before her last birthday, twenty days before she passed away, she used all her energy to walk from her house to the car parked near the gate, go to church, and share her testimony with a group of elderly women. She told me she sat in the wheelchair for the first time in her life to do that.

Ma, thank you for the ways you exemplified Romans 12:11, not lagging behind in diligence, fervor in spirit, serving the Lord.

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