Sunday, September 30, 2007


I have known Auntie Molly, for a long, long time and throughout these years, she has allowed me peeks and glimpses into her interesting life.

Now in her 80s, and widowed just about 3 years ago, she is still a sharp and sprightly lady blessed with good health. She enjoys food and she eats anything and everything; nothing is too ‘cooling’ or too ‘heaty’ or too fat and she does not bother too much about cholesterol or uric acid or whatevernots. Her motto, “Eat Also Die; Don’t Eat Also Die. So, Eat lar.”. I call her a ‘jet-setter’ - she travels frequently to visit her brood of 8, (one passed on last year) and her own brothers and sisters scattered all over the world. Auntie Molly is an accomplished musician too – she plays the electronic organ and the Chinese table harp, the guzheng. Besides, she also fills her days with church activities and her taichi classes.

Life was not always wine and roses for Auntie Molly. With her basic education at the local Chinese convent, she managed to secure a job as teacher in one of the small privately-funded Chinese primary school in her hometown.

Auntie Molly then met and fell in love with a fellow teacher and got married after a few years of courtship and soon the children arrived; first a set of twin girls, followed closely by five other sons and another daughter. She continued teaching for a short while more and when the brood grew too fast she had to give up her job to be a fulltime mother and housewife. It was tough, very, very tough…bringing up 8 children on one small salary but somehow, husband and wife pulled through very successfully and all the children have done well. Now, in her twilight years, Auntie Molly is enjoying life to the fullest, adored by her children and more than a dozen grandchildren and if any of her elder grandkids decide to get married and start family now, she will be a great-gramma many times over. Life is good and life is beautiful for Auntie Molly.

And I met with another old friend, Auntie Yin this morning. Auntie Yin is in her 70s, widowed much earlier when she was only in her early 40s and left with 8 hungry mouths, aged between 5 to 15. Being illiterate, she took on laundry jobs – she would go house to house to collect the soiled clothes and bring them home to wash and then send back the fresh laundry house by house on foot. She never learned to cycle and she walked to save on bus fare. When her ‘clients’ bought their own washing machines and some shifted further away, Auntie Yin saw her income dwindle. Auntie Yin then took on house-cleaning jobs and that was how I got to know her in the late 80s. Auntie Yin helped me with my cleaning for many years until I got a stay-in Filipino helper and I had to let her go. We kept and touch all these years and became good friends.

Now Auntie Yin is ‘retired’ from her cleaning/washing jobs and is a devoted grandma babysitting 3 grandchildren. But Auntie Yin is very unhappy, if what she confided in me is anything to go by. She is having financial difficulties having to pinch bit by bit from her own meager savings which is fast depleting. I asked if her kids (all working) are giving her some pocket money and almost instantly, I saw tears weld up in her eyes. Initially they gave her a little when they started work but slowly one by one claimed their own financial constraints and stopped giving her altogether; even the daughter whose kids she is helping to babysit. This daughter had pleaded with Auntie Yin to give up her office tea-lady job to help look after the grandkids, paid her erratically for a few months and then the money just stopped and Auntie Yin’s infrequent requests for money to spend is always met with a scowl. And whenever Auntie Yin needs to go somewhere and asks the kids to send her, they would yell at her, calling her a troublesome old woman. She would rather take the cab, she said, even though it can be costly and a rip-off at times. She told me that each time she had to go to the dentist (she had to go many trips to make her dentures), there would be a lot of unhappiness around – her son will ask the daughter and the daughter will ask another son and they will play merry-go-round and pass-the buck games; no one is willing to pick the tab. Auntie Yin is hurt….very, very hurt and her tears rolled as she poured her heart out to me. I truly feel sorry for her.

Two of my old friends …..One living it all out and welcoming all the tomorrows; and the other just wished tomorrow never comes…….

posted by nyonyapenang at 9:05 PM, |


children must treat their parents right, no matter how they were treated. because i am sure every parent goes through tough moments bringing them up.
and i believe in retribution. somehow somewhere somewhat, there is a price to pay.
  At 12:06 AM Anonymous kat said:
I am thankful I have come to my senses (from being young and impetuous!) and make sure I take care of my parents. And it was not only because I have become a parent myself. Somehow along the road, my parents stopped becoming parents and became real people with real feelings who can get hurt. A parent's love may be unconditional, but that does not mean we can take them for granted and expect them to give in to us all the time. I am taking care of them not just because they are my parents, but because they are decent human beings and deserve to be treated with respect.
And yes, I really do believe what goes around, comes around! And it's good to read about these kinds of stories to remind oneself every now and then.
You have a great week ahead, nyonya! :)
  At 1:21 AM Blogger ehon said:
i guess we all come to a point in life when we become vulnerable. we have children who either appreciate us, or treat us badly. hmm.. i love my grandma. :D i think being old can be only either happy or sad. no so-so or ok lar.
I feel so sad for Auntie Yin.

On another matter, I love Auntie Molly's motto of "Eat Also Die; Don’t Eat Also Die. So, Eat lar."

  At 8:41 AM Blogger may said:
how different all our lives are. we pray that life is more like Aunty Molly's than Aunty Yin's... I hope Aunty Yin has a better afterlife!
  At 10:51 AM Blogger Nightwing said:
Thanks for sharing the story. So kesian Aunty Yin, hope her children will come to their senses one day when it is their turn to be 'old'.
  At 11:35 AM Blogger William said:
I guess when you live to be 80, it's better to just do and eat the things we love. Not much difference. It's important to be happy!

As for Auntie Yin, aiyoh... dunno what to say la.
  At 4:57 PM Blogger Chris said:
Hello, you have a wonderful blog, but I can't find your email address, can you please contact me at I have something to discuss with you
Regards, Chris
(Please can you delete this comment after your decision?)
it is sad that Auntie Yin's children only treat her like 'a worker' and not as a mom who has sacrificed so much for them. on the other hand, really happy that Auntie Molly is enjoying her years with so much joys.

no matter how much we can give (in term of money) i think our parents will love to just hv us (family) around, chatting, spending some time with them..
  At 3:59 PM Blogger Pi Bani said:
Ahh... a mother can take care of 8 young children, but 8 grown children can't take care of an elderly mother. Sad, so sad...
  At 7:46 PM Anonymous Angeleyes said: sad for Aunty Yin.
I have heard a lot of such stories.... don't know how these young people think these days...
Hi Mistipurple,
What goes around, comes around....
Hi Kat,
We were all young once and I have been down that road before too. Oh, how I felt and believed at that time, that my elders were put there to make my life miserable. How terribly wrong I was! Though my parents are no longer here now, I know they brought me up well and I am eternally grateful for that.

Look after the older folks and treat them well when they are still around and enjoy each other's love and one day when they leave us, we want to have lovely memories to cherish.....not regrets to shed tears over.

You have a great day, Kat.
Hi Ehon,
Am sure your grandma love you to bits too. :)
Hi Day-Dreamer,
I really hope things will turn out better for Auntie Yin. :)
Hi May,
I suppose each family has their own 'stories' and we are merely looking from the outside and moreover, I don't think there is a secret formula to a perfect family.
We do the best we can and hopefully, we can have a 'comfy and sweet' retirement.

Have a nice day, May.
Hi Nightwing,
Hopefully Auntie Yin's children realise their folly. We have ONLY one mother.

You have a great day.
Hi William,
An old friend once lamented, "When I was young, I got no money to eat. Now I am older and got money BUT am told I cannot eat. Where got meaning, huh?"
Hi Chris,
Thanks for dropping by. I tried to 'visit' you but was unable to. Perhaps, you may want to leave some words at my chat-box.

Have a nice day.
Hi Winniethepooh,
Another wise friend commented, "When we are in our twilight years, all the money in the bank does not amount to anything if you cannot have the joy of spending time with your loved ones."
How true!

You have a great day, Winnie.
Hi Pi Bani,
What you said is so sad but it's soooo TRUE!
Hi Angeleyes,
I have seen my fair share too...the children playing 'pass-the-buck' when looking after their old parents. Sad....real sad.....
feel so sorry for Aunty Yin...that's why I don't put up too much hope in my kids..having kids is not an investment that's y i have invested in numerous insurance schemes! kiasu amah!
  At 6:14 PM Blogger 13th Panda said:
HUH?!! how can auntie yin's kids treat her like that??!

tsk tsk tsk, *geleng kepala*
Hi Laundryamah,
A friend once said this, "Hey, we must tell the kids from day one...that they will have to look after their old poppa and momma. Repeat to them as often as possible to make sure it stays inside their heads."
Hi 13th Panda,
**sighss...** macam-macam pun ada.
  At 3:36 AM Blogger Jonzz said:
Gosh, that's pretty sad. That's why I always roll my eyes at people who smart-aleckily say, Get married and have kids and there'll be someone to look after you when you're old.
  At 10:50 AM Blogger Will said:
kesian the auntie yin... *sigh*
  At 10:51 AM Anonymous Anonymous said:
i think aunty yin kids watched to much malaysian drama.