Mother’s Day 2022
Every Mother’s Day is a reminder for me, to reminisce and think about how every day is Mother’s day. Also, it’s a reminder to make it a daily habit, if you haven’t already, to thank your parents, to say “I LOVE YOU” even when you have a bad day, and to show appreciation to the people who care and love you.
Who Is Your Female Hero?
If you ask me, without question, my female hero or the female who has changed everything for me and my all-time inspiration, is my mother.
She may not be known, may not be famous, may not have made history, but in my books, she is all that and more. She’s proven to me what a man can do, a woman can too. In my eyes, she is one of the strongest women I’ve been blessed with and honored to have known and have as a mother. From the beginning to her end, she remained strong and her strength lives on within me and beyond.
Her name was Lisa ChingMan Yue; my mother had the gift of living and sharing her knowledge with me till October 16, 2011. Just like any immigrant, she traveled by boat across the seas to make it to the “Land of the Free.” She set foot in San Francisco, California, and collaborated with my father who she met back when she was in Hong Kong. He was from Shanghai and he somehow visited one day and their relationship was history. He was also an immigrant. Together by faith, they planned a future for their children (later, my older sister and me) to be nothing like their lives. Foreign to the states and their language barriers barely keeping them afloat on survival, they trucked through. They opened up a restaurant and began working on their family goal. My father was the chef of the restaurant, and my mother helped along with her other duties, but my father mainly stayed behind the scenes, while my mother did everything she could to learn about the states. She picked up Spanish and spoke it fluently, while she learned English too but, not forgetting her Chinese native tongue; in which she spoke 3 out of the 26 dialects and understood about 5 fluently. She worked with her literal blood, sweat, and tears daily for 12-hours or more to make ends meet, so to speak. Along the way, my father fell into a bad habit of gambling, thinking he would “win” some to help out with the finances, only to lose almost everything including what they’ve earned through their restaurant business. He was addicted to the point where he took their wedding rings behind my mother’s back and gambled them off. Sometimes, while the night seemed silent, he’d sneak and scrap all of my mother’s savings to try to gamble it only to come back with the excuse that he did it in hopes of “helping” with the finances. She knew by that time it has become a relentless, hopeless habit, and there was nothing she could do.
There were good and bad days with the restaurant but, mostly good. With my father’s addiction close at hand, my mother managed to have a secret stash saved enough to move to Texas. She couldn’t leave my father, thinking the best for him and hoping the move would change his habits. For a while it was, and things seemed to be better. The move to Texas was a success and they opened another restaurant together in Dallas, Texas. It wasn’t long before my father had the itch to go gambling once again. So, it seemed like history was repeating itself for my mother; working at the restaurant full time and waiting after eating dinner alone for my father to come back empty-handed. Shortly after my sister was born, she got back on her feet a day or two after giving birth and started to work again. My mother use to complain that she is fighting time and it seemed like there just wasn’t enough time in the world.
As usual, my father cooked, and my mother managed and multitasked; cooking, cleaning and waiting tables. Both my parents were over-exhausted, overworked, and just over it, but they never stopped managing this two-person restaurant for a long time. And as usual, my father was in denial of his addiction and went gambling with what was earned from the restaurant for the day, almost every night. My mother was too tired to fight at this point, working full-time at the restaurant and going home to be a full-time mother to my sister. Her stamina wasn’t enough, to begin with, or to put up a good fight against my father’s affairs with gambling. A year of this vicious cycle and my mother found herself pregnant again, with me. Shortly after having me, she was back on her feet again. She would work so much, so hard, she would come home with swollen limbs. She would come home to an empty house, a fatherless home, and take care of my sister and me. Oftentimes, she would save some food for us and she wouldn’t eat afraid there wasn’t even to go around. How she got through the hunger is wild to me but she told me she wasn’t growing and we were.
I remember her telling us how scared she was of his addictions and having nightmares of him selling us (his daughters and her) off if there was nothing else to gamble.
One day, my mother had enough and was pushed to do what she thought was best for all of us, for us to be safe and survive. So, she had to let go. My mother filed for a divorce from my father. She tried to explain to him every day before the day of the annulment that he had to change, not because he had to do it for himself but, because of us. She tried to tell him his life isn’t his anymore, and now we (my sister and I) are his life. Sadly, she was left with the only option she didn’t want to face. She had to come to this conclusion. I never saw my father again. Until my mother fell sick and passed away.
So, why start out by telling you about my parents’ life? Because after everything, after the day my mother filed for the annulment, her life changed. She became my father, and my mother; she was a single mother with two daughters. I was one year of age and my sister was barely two. My mother’s mission of bringing herself to the states to get citizenship, bring her family here, and take care of us, only got harder. But nothing ever stopped her from her goals; dedicating her life’s work to give me and my sister our freedom and happiness.
Growing up, I remember thinking my mother can do everything and knew everything. To an extent, until I was old enough to understand, she did do a lot and know enough. Most importantly, she taught me everything I needed to know. At the time, I wouldn’t remember what she would tell me but, eventually and unfortunately after she passed, the files of what she’s ever taught me or talked to me about and random conversations reveal in front of me. Everything comes back, everything she told me or everything I ever learned from her, it all came back. She made me who I am today, and I can’t thank her enough. She always said to smile, especially on my sad days. She told me to never give up, especially when it gets tough. She taught me wealth can be anything I perceive it to be because money is temporary. She taught me to work hard towards my goals because time is limitless. She said so much that I can go on forever and make a novel of it. But most importantly, she taught me to learn, love, respect, stay humble, and be myself. Even if she didn’t say it, her actions showed me.
My mother is my hero.
Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. An unexpected scenario. Although my mother taught me to take care of myself, and she never ceases to forget about taking care of me and everyone else, she was the worst at taking care of herself. I can remember it like it was yesterday when I heard the tragic news. By the time we concluded, or rather she decided to do chemotherapy and radiation, it didn’t last long before her body began to falter. I was in denial, everything felt like it was moving millions of miles per hour, but we all knew it was too late…
I remember clearly that day when I received that phone call. I felt the world was tumbling beneath my feet and I could barely keep my balance. My knees caught my fall and my body gave out. I felt like I lost all control. Losing her was like losing my world. I didn’t realize pain until this. I didn’t want to go on anymore. I wanted everything to stop. Even though my world crashed, the real world was still moving on. I felt so alone and angry. My grief was beyond what I could bear and felt like I was close to my own death. This was the closest I could ever imagine greeting death. All the pain in the world would never cover how much grief overcame me. I was stagnant for months on end after my mother’s funeral; unable to eat, drink, unable to move on or even have the will to live.
But one day, a remnant of my mother’s voice echoed in my head; to get up and get to work. Remnants of memories of her actions, words, and love poured euphorically through my veins and that is what kept me together. I could only think about and imagine how much she has done for me. Her will to live and the way she worked every day even when she wasn’t working, prompted me to get up. She’s done so much for me and my sister that I couldn’t just lay dormant. I have to keep on for her sake. I have to show the world who I am and what I am capable of, because of her. And although she may not be known, may not be famous, may not have made history, in my books she is all that and more. She’s proven to me; like she’s taught me before, and now I understand that even if we have lived our lives to our fullest potential, to never forget who gave us that life. To live not just for ourselves, but for our mothers; our parents, for our generation, for the future generations, to make our own legacy.
She was the greatest teacher. She was the first to teach me that not all heroes wear capes.
Thanks for reading.