Thursday 24 March 2016

Joanne Lee

This tribute is for my mum, Joanne Lee.

As I mentioned in my father’s tribute, no parent, or indeed, person, is perfect. But the purpose of a tribute is to highlight a person’s positive qualities --- it's certainly not the point to bring them down. So with that in mind, here we go.

Like all good mums, my mum is a real powerhouse when it comes to taking care of her children. She does everything. Even with me quite shamelessly being a grown adult, she still cooks, cleans and does the laundry for me. She enjoys playing the part of the chauffeur –and she is a very good driver at that (parallel parking, even with a large car, is quite easy for her). Having lived her life through action and less talk, mum often has to put on the hat of a counsellor: indeed, she is almost always too happy to offer common-sense advice to anyone who will listen. And as all mothers do, she worries - sometimes unnecessarily - for the safety and well-being of her children.

Another distinctive feature of mum is that she expects the best of people

If I could put it another way, mum holds high standards for a range of things, be it for performing tasks or how one conducts themselves in front of others. While some who read this may feel that such a stance may put pressure on children if implemented incorrectly (and yes it can!!!!), at the same time I actually feel that it is very important for all of us to have such a benchmark because having one serves as a constant reminder that we should always strive to get to our best, character-wise or task-wise. We should never be complacent. Although mum's criticism may sometimes be taken in the wrong way, I believe her intentions are to improve people rather than to bring them down.

Hilariously, my mum's high standards extend to not only the practical elements of life but also to other things.......

....such as video games.

A position that my mum would approve of.
Courtesy of 

If I am playing the Last of Us on the PS3 (or any other game like Uncharted or Halo), my mum will openly criticise me for failing to, for example, attack that Clicker zombie stalking Joel on the left.... or allowing those covenant aliens to flank me from behind.

Typical comments made by her include:

Why didn’t you jump over there behind the box? Silly fool, now they can see you and will shoot you.
Why are you fighting like that. You can't just rush out like that. You have to be patient.
Can't you go around from behind? --- otherwise that guy will see you.
Now, how many children in this world can boast of a mother who not only watches them play video games, but actively issues them with in-game orders and commands?!!* 

(On that note, my mum's enthusiasm for action/adventure games, as well as blockbuster movies, to some extent, shows how technologically 'flexible' and 'accepting' my mum is---- if I can put it that way. She is relatively up to date with all manner of gadgets and computer systems – perhaps this is partly because she enjoys taking an interest in her children’s activities, although the large part of it, I suspect, is probably the fact that she is just good at keeping updated.

I should also pause here to note that one other prominent feature of my mum is that she loves her camera and photography. She loves the opportunity to experiment with taking pictures of people and items. Her pictures can be frequently found on this website.)

Another related and crucial attribute of mum is her frankness.

My mum will not say that something is 'good' just for the sake of saying it or to please someone. One of the most admirable qualities about mum is that she is direct and forthcoming. She will tell you how it is, as it is, without any sugar coating. Sometimes you need people like that -- some things can't be done unless they are done directly and without any of the unnecessary baggage (or niceties, if you will).

I think this is critically important.

On one hand, being encouraging and kind are great virtues to have (in fact, everyone should have these virtues). On the other hand, if you say that everything is ‘good’ or if you are one of those people who says that everything is ‘excellent’, then, in my view, these false praises devalue the meaning of what really qualifies as ‘good’ or 'excellent'. I think the best place to be is somewhere in the middle: Encouraging but honest.

My mum is also a very determined character.

She doesn’t give up easily and refuses to be put down. She has a strong and stoical personality. The hardship and suffering she has endured over the years has been considerable. You would have to ask her personally about this as I fear that I would not do justice to her stories if I tried to tell them myself. Many of them involve her facing substantial adversity and being able to overcome the odds. If I could have even a tenth of my mother’s resolve, I would be laughing already.

For all the above reasons, I am indebted to my mum.

Mum, thank you for being a good mother to Chloe and myself - and a good wife to dad - and thank you for putting up with us, especially me.

Happy early birthday for 2 April 2016.

Andre Lim

* I have even seen my mum play Halo before...suffice to say that was quite the treat LOL


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