MAY 8 this year will be a special day for me…

…It’s my Mum’s birthday and it’s Mother’s Day.

Many happy returns, Mum! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful, loving and selfless mothers.

Believe me, we children love our mothers more than anything in the world. To us, our mothers are dependable and they will always be there for us.

For our well-being, they work long hours, get very little rest and are unpaid. They also have a magical touch that can cure all our pains. That is why when we are hurt, we always scream for Mummy.

Most of all, they will give their all, including their lives, for us.

Once, I asked my father: “If you could save one person in a life-and-death situation, would the person be Mum or me.”

Without hesitation, he said: “You.” I asked: “Why me?” He responded: “That is what your Mum wants. It is her AMD (Advance Mother Directive) to me.”

No wonder that last year in a survey of more than 40,000 people in 102 non- English speaking countries, the word “Mother” has been chosen as the most beautiful one in the language. I cannot agree with the finding more.

I was born with osteogenesis imperfecta — a condition in which my bones break easily because my body lacks the collagen required for a sturdy bone structure.

Simply put, from day one, my future looked bleak. I was destined, as some would say, to be a burden to my family and the community.

What’s more, I was so frail that my ability to survive in the first few weeks of my life was also in doubt.

Did my mother give up on me? If she had, I would not be writing this article. She wanted to give me a chance at life.

In fact, it was her defiance of the odds against me that makes me what I am today. I hold great admiration for her iron will to overcome tremendous challenges and her selfless devotion to her duties as a mother.

In 1986, my mother, a national taekwondo exponent, was preparing for the Asian Championships. Barely two months before the competition, she was hospitalised with a ruptured lung.

It was a result of a kick to her chest she received during training. The doctor told her not to think of jogging for at least six months, let alone think of donning national colours.

Going against the doctor’s order and showing tremendous grit and fighting spirit, my mother went on to win a silver medal in the gruelling tournament. In the run-up to the final — which she lost by a narrow margin — she had the distinction of eliminating a world champion.

She is indeed an inspiring example of the resilience of the human spirit and its triumph over adversity.

Applying that amazing quality, she refused to accept that I would be doomed.

She persevered and found ways to nurture me. In the process, she has developed in me the ability to deal with whatever life throws my way.

My mother’s indomitable spirit is only matched by her selfless devotion to me.

When I broke my bones, she would go without sleep many nights just to care for me and comfort me. While I was sleeping on a warm and cosy hospital bed, she would tire herself out by her long nightly vigils at my bedside sitting on a hard and unforgiving vinyl chair.

To walk up four storeys is tough for many people. My mother has to carry a 56kg load — me — up four storeys so that I can attend classes. Mind you, I am heavier than she is. She is indeed incredible!

It was my good fortune that she put me before all else when she had me. By bringing hope and optimism to my life despite overwhelming obstacles and giving me everything, she stands as an extraordinary role model for me and others to emulate.

I am sure you have your own stories to tell about how your mother touches your life, provides a source of strength to you at your lowest point and guides you with love, care and concern.

If you are a Mum, this rhyme is for you.

You are the wind beneath your children’s wings.
Without you, they are nothing.
You are their ‘hero’.
Without you, they are zero.

(This journal entry can be found in TODAY of 6 May 2005)