Terence Cao and mum: Lost, then found

Terence Cao and mum: Lost, then found

After losing touch with her for 27 years, actor Terence Cao, 46, lost no time in building a strong, loving bond with his mum, Lucy Tan, 65. 


Terence, how is it that you got to know your mother only when you were 30?

Terence: My parents separated when I was three years old. I was raised by my grandparents, and only reconnected with my mum when I turned 30. Before that, I had no contact with her at all.

What was it like when you were reunited?

Lucy: When I had to leave Terence, I trusted that he was in the good hands of his grandparents. Even so, it was tough - I had to keep telling myself to be strong, and to move on with my life.

A member of our family decided to bring us together when Terence was 30.

When I saw him for the first time, I was speechless - there were no words to describe how happy I was.

Terence: I was too young to understand what happened when Mum left. I missed her, but my grandparents loved me and taught me to be positive and independent, so I hardly dwelt on my sadness. I felt an instant connection with Mum when I met her again; there was no bitterness - what's past is past and it's time to start cherishing our moments together.

Do you see each other often?

Lucy: Terence always finds pockets of time to have lunch or dinner with me, even when he's busy filming.

On Sundays, all my children (Terence and his three half-brothers and half-sister) make an effort to come over for lunch, so I'll wake up early to cook.

Terence: I've had to cancel our plans occasionally because of work. I can understand when she gets upset with me - especially when she's gone to the trouble of cooking my favourite dishes, like mee siam, nasi lemak and lontong.

How do you make it up to her, then?

Terence: The good thing about Mum is that she's too polite and well-mannered to scream at me (laughs). But we're similar in temperament - we're both stubborn - so when we're not happy with each other, we won't talk for weeks. But I always give in to her because she's my mum and I want to make her happy - that's the trick to handling mothers!

How else do you bond?

Terence: Mum and I have plenty in common. For example, we both love fruit cake and spicy food. When we go shopping together, we hit the supermarket first and easily end up spending $500 in one trip.

Lucy: Terence likes buying things in bulk, like 12-pack tinned soup cartons, because he says it's convenient to prepare, especially when he wants to invite friends over.

I always remind him to avoid processed food because he has a sensitive throat, like me. So I'll stock up on Danzen tablets (an anti-inflammatory oral drug) for him at his place.

Terence: That's how she shows her love - when she first found out that I love fruit cake, I often came home to a fridge stocked with delicious ones I could never finish.

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