Good times with my cool mum

Good times with my cool mum

I will be graduating from university soon. It is an important milestone, one that countless late-night studying and binging sessions have built up to.

For my mother, 2014 marks a different landmark. In June, she turns 65 and will join what Singapore now calls the pioneer generation.

When I read about the Government's new package of benefits for the pioneers, I skimmed through the details of subsidies and lower MediShield Life premiums, imagining 450,000 silver-haired strangers on the receiving end. My mother's hair is jet black.

Still, I keyed in her identity card number for a cursory check. The affirmative hit me. Time has been slipping by.

Living with an ageing parent is something foreign to many 20-somethings.

"Your mum is how old again?" most friends exclaim when I tell them my mother's age. They hear it once more, then linking her birth to historical events like the Japanese Occupation. That's not true, I retort, the war ended well before she was born.

Perhaps it is so hard to believe because my mother is cool. A clerk in her younger days, she left her job to look after me, her only child, when I started primary school.

As a full-time housewife, she never placed an emphasis on school results; tuition for maths or science (two subjects I disliked) was never an option.

I once asked her for help with a particularly hard multiple-choice question. She stared at it and the four answer choices before leaving the dining table.

Then she returned with a die. "It's just one question. If you get five or six, roll again," she said. It was the last time I asked my mother for help with my schoolwork.

She gave me permission to sign my own report cards and excursion slips. To an 11-year-old, that was power. She sent me out to the park to play with friends in the evenings.

She read books to me while tucking me into bed. She massaged the spots that were sore from a workout. She sent me for art classes with my cousins at the community centre. We spent Wednesday nights learning how to scrawl colourful dinosaurs, flowers and HDB blocks.

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