Sunday, February 26, 2012

Broken glass and empty bottles

Last week, I took my mum and my god-sister’s former maid to lunch.  I call her "Kiew jay". Since she is a vegetarian, we went for vegetarian food in a little restaurant near her home.
Here are what we had:

From left: black pepper udon, sui kow soup, special fried rice

I do not think I want to tell you where this restaurant is because it is one that I will not go back to. Their food is forgettable and it is rather expensive and service was not very good. 

Kiew jay is someone I admire for her positive attitude and outlook on life despite adversity. She is a widow. She married rather late at the age of almost 40 but her marriage was short lived. It lasted only ten months. Her husband was a construction worker and he fell to his death from a building. After her husband passed away,  she returned to my god-sister’s family to work as a maid again. A few years later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, after she went through a major surgery to remove the tumor, she fullly recovered. After the surgery she quit the maid’s job and started her own business selling vegetarian food. It is amazing for someone who is illiterate and had never done anything other than being a maid in the past. She seemed to be able to support herself and lead a simple life with the income from the business. Although her life has been a challenge and tough in many respects, she said she is at peace and her policy is to live like there is no tomorrow. She said tough times made her a stronger person. That was exactly what my son, Nick said when he shared a piece of short music that he composed and arranged recently. He gave the music the title,  “Broken glass and empty bottles”. He explained that this piece was about the tough times in our lives and how we are all challenged to reach inside for endurance and stay strong to get passed it. 

Broken glass and empty bottles - composed and arranged by Nick Davis


When I listened to the music I felt some tears swelling in my eye. The music and Nick's comments sent me back in time. It reminded me about the tough time of being a widow and a single mum. I remembered an incident where I came home late at night after a visit with my step brother and his family. Nick was only 3 years old. We were staying on the 4th floor of  a walk-up apartment and there was no lift.  My baby was asleep and I could not bring myself to wake him up. So I carried him and walked up the stairs. When I reached the 2nd floor, I broke down and began to cry silently. I was hurting and angry. I asked no one in particular  "why?". Why had someone I loved been taken away from me? Why me? I felt an impulse to scream out loud but instinctually curbed myself from doing so. I did not want to awaken my baby or frighten him. It was a moment of deep self pity. It took me a few minutes to pick up the pieces and continue climbing the stairs. It was tough but those tough times that I have gone through have made me a stronger person. The beautiful thing is, I always got past those moments. Looking back I've learned that we human beings can endure a great deal and can be remarkably adaptable.  It seems to suggest that when life throws us a curve ball, don’t duck it but catch it and run with it! We never know just how wonderful it might be at the end of that run.

There is a bestseller book that I have yet to read, called “A Widow's Story",  a memoir by Joyce Carol Oates. I am sure I will be able to relate to her story. I will probably need a  box or two of tissues beside me when I read it.  It has a good review from Ann Hulbert in Sunday Book Review in The New York Times. You can click on the photo if you want to know more. 



Grief is something I wish none of us had to experience, but it is an inevitable and universal part of life.  None of us will escape its intrusion and when you think about it, grief is among those experiences that define who we are. To all the widows out there, I salute you for your survival and your strength. I hope you may draw some comfort from reading this. It is another beautiful writing by Khalil Gibran.

The Widow and Her Son XXI



Night fell over North Lebanon and snow was covering the villages surrounded by the Kadeesha Valley, giving the fields and prairies the appearance of a great sheet of parchment upon which the furious Nature was recording her many deeds. Men came home from the streets while silence engulfed the night.

In a lone house near those villages lived a woman who sat by her fireside spinning wool, and at her side was her only child, staring now at the fire and then at his mother.

A terrible roar of thunder shook the house and the little boy shook with fright. He threw his arms about his mother, seeking protection from Nature in her affection. She took him to her bosom and kissed him; then she sat him on her lap and said, "Do not fear, my son, for Nature is but comparing her great power to man's weakness. There is a Supreme Being beyond the falling snow and the heavy clouds and the blowing wind, and He knows the needs of the earth, for He made it; and He looks upon the weak with merciful eyes.

"Be brave, my boy. Nature smiles in Spring and laughs in Summer and yawns in Autumn, but now she is weeping; and with her tears she waters life, hidden under the earth.

"Sleep, my dear child; your father is viewing us from Eternity. The snow and thunder bring us closer to him at this time.

"Sleep, my beloved, for this white blanket which makes us cold, keeps the seeds warm, and these war-like things will produce beautiful flowers when Nisan comes.

"Thus, my child, man cannot reap love until after sad and revealing separation, and bitter patience, and desperate hardship. Sleep, my little boy; sweet dreams will find your soul who is unafraid of the terrible darkness of night and the biting frost."

The little boy looked upon his mother with sleep-laden eyes and said, "Mother, my eyes are heavy, but I cannot go to bed without saying my prayer."

The woman looked at his angelic face, her vision blurred by misted eyes, and said, "Repeat with me, my boy - 'God, have mercy on the poor and protect them from the winter; warm their thin-clad bodies with Thy merciful hands; look upon the orphans who are sleeping in wretched houses, suffering from hunger and cold. Hear, oh Lord, the call of widows who are helpless and shivering with fear for their young. Open, oh Lord, the hearts of all humans, that they may see the misery of the weak. Have mercy upon the sufferers who knock on doors, and lead the wayfarers into warm places. Watch, oh Lord, over the little birds and protect the trees and fields from the anger of the storm; for Thou art merciful and full of love.'"

As Slumber captured the boy's spirit, his mother placed him in the bed and kissed his eyes with quivering lips. Then she went back and sat by the hearth, spinning the wool to make him raiment.

My mother gets all of her vegetarian food supplies from Kiew jay. I know it is easy to get vegetarian food from supermarkets but somehow, those we buy from her are of a more superior quality. Shown here are the vegetarian roast goose and vegetarian fish that we bought from her recently. I deep fried the goose and my mum made fried fish in garlic and light soya sauce for dinner last night. Both were VERY DELICIOUS! 


52 comments:

  1. it reminds me of my late God Ma who was a widow and raised her 2 kids on her own. The tough part was having a nearly teen son who was rebellious then and a little daughter who is barely a year old. Still she succeeded in raising both well, ran her own biz and of course Contributed back generously in time and monies back to the community who helped her during her tough days. She was such a woman of substance...

    BTW, you're on the radio tomorrow! Have fun! I'll be tuning in:D

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    1. I have high respect for your late God Ma. Thanks for tuning in:D

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  2. btw...love the piece that Nick composed. Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, I will let Nick knows what you said. He will be very pleased.

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  3. QP..we are survivors!!
    AS it is written in the Bible.. Romans 8:28... And we all know in all ways, God loves those who Love Him and who are called according to His purpose...

    God bless you and your family!

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  4. Everyone lives in this world with a purpose. Quay Po you are a strong lady. At least right now, all your effort is not wasted. Give yourself a pat on your shoulder. You will be on the radio tomorrow? which station? what time?

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    1. Thanks Angie. Tomorrow on Capital FM 88.9 at 6pm. The Theme is "Anything is Possible." (as long as we want it bad enough and set our minds to it.)

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  5. Reading this piece with Nick's piece playing in the background made me shed a few tears. I believe this dedication applies to all single parents for I know of a single father who went through a lot for his 3 kids when he lost his wife ... feeling the same pain.
    I bow to you for having brought up a son so wise for his years and now for your happiness that you so fully deserve.

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    1. I am sorry this post make you a little sad and yes, I do salute the single fathers out there too. I am sure it is not easy for your friend to bring up 3 kids single handedly. Thanks Ping for your kind words, as always! I was lucky to have my Quay Lo's help to raise Nick and provide for the family:D

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  6. What a great post, such beautiful words. Sadly my connection is too slow to play the video. Take care, hugs Diane

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  7. Such deep, quiet strength you and your Kiew Jay have. Thank you for reminding me that no matter how tough things get, we will overcome and we will survive and best of all, we will triumph and we will thrive.

    *hugs*

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  8. It is so true that we all experience grief and hardship, and that how we react to these situations is what forms us and makes us stronger. Very moving post Quay Po. I have heard good things about the book by Joyce Carol Oates, but I haven't read it. Wishing you a happy week ahead.

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    1. Thank you Daisy. Have a great week ahead. Hugs.

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  9. Haven't we all been down those emotional roads at some stage in our lives i know i have :-).

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    1. Yes, I am sure we all did. Most important i we can pick up our pieces and move on:D

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  10. Should tell - then people will not go to that same place. I guess I wouldn't - not into vegetarian. Oooo...your mum's fish looks good. Goose, the same as duck or not?

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    1. I knew that already, you are a canivore! I must bring you some you some vegetarian stuff that we bought from Kiew Jay and you will not look at vegetarian food the same way. Yes mum's fish is DELICIOUS, just like the real one, in fact better for me, NO BONES! hahahah.. I think there is a slight difference between Goose and duck. I get confused too. To me they are more or less the same in taste. Regarding the restaurant, "kasih" chance "sikit" lah. Who knows when they change the chef, the food will improve? LOL!

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  11. Lovely music, love it!...Such a sad story. You've been through so much, certainly deserve all the happiness you're enjoying now.

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    1. Thanks Arthur:D I will tell Nick what you said about this piece of music. He will be very happy to hear that.

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  12. This story proves we are stronger than we know. Good luck on the radio - would love to hear it.

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    1. Magnolia, yes, we sure do. Hey if I can get the recording from the Station, I will post it hear so you can listen to it. It is now re-scheduled to Wednesday, 29 Feb. 6pm.

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  13. I am reading this in the office so have not got the chance to watch the video, I'll watch it later:) A very moving post....you write beautifully:)

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    1. Jeannie, thanks for your frequent visits and kind words as always. Actually that is not much of a video but just a clip with Nick's music. Hope you will tune in 88.9 on Wednesday to listen to my chat with the Capital FM. This is an interesting Woman Station. The Theme of the chat is "Anything is possible."

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  14. I love the vegetarian goose. In fact, I love deep fried food. haha

    You are a strong woman indeed. It is not easy to be a single parent. Kiew Jay is a strong woman too ! Really sad to read her story. It is the fate god has arranged for us. Just like the Chinese said "tong ren bu tong ming" (Same people but have different fate).

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    1. Agree 100% on the Chinese saying. Maybe fate is arranged by God for us but it is also in our own hands so it is up to us to accept it or change it, that's how I feel:D

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    1. You are welcome. Yes, I do hope people who has experience loosing a love one will draw comfort from this post.

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  16. To be able to carry on and stay strong after losing her spouse, Kiew Jay is one remarkable lady. The same goes to you, Quay Po, and the rest of the widows and single mothers out there. Salute for being so positive!

    Vegetarian roasted geese is my favourite of all. Must have this everytime I visit vegetarian outlet.

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  17. *hugs* to you! it was really a tough time for you at that time and I really respect you for pulling it through.

    I'm also not a fan of vegetarian food but I've tried several times. Maybe I will slowly get accustomed to it one day. :)

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    1. Hugs back. When you have a mother and a two year old to feed, I did not have the privilege to take time to grieve. It did catch up with me in later years though and I am glad I overcome that too. Me too, I was not a big fan of vegetarian food but I grown to love it after visiting several good vegetarian restaurants my mum took me to.

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  18. Kiew Jay and you, Quay Po are both very strong and positive ladies. I can't imagine what if this happen on. I wish that I am the one leave the world before my spouse. You have a nice day.

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    1. No one can imagine what is installed for them when such un-welcome incident happened to them. One will somehow have the reserved to tough it out. I can understand why you one to be the one to exit first:D It is a selfish thought that most has. I do too.

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  19. Vegetarian food are not cheap, right. Sorry to know that restaurant was a big nono...

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    1. Hayley, you are right, vegetarian food is not cheap, in fact, some are more expensive than normal food.

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  20. Es una mujer luchadora, que ha tenido muchas desgracias en la vida, pero siempre hay que luchar!
    Un besito linda
    http://janakitchen.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for dropping by. Yes, I think most women are fighters when it comes to providing and protect her family. Kiss back!

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  21. Nice piece of music Nik has created.
    Men see women as soft and weak. But women can be as strong as a iron lady to protect her family.

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    1. Thanks for your compliment on Nick's music. I will pass it to him. He sure will be glad to hear that. Women are blessed with motherhood, a treasured role where she had to stay strong for her family when faced with adversity.

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  22. i like you! you are living on as a very good role model for widows all over! you know, it's good to be around with people with positive thoughts all the time.

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  23. I like you too! You are a person with bright outlook, positive thoughts and good sense of humor. It is fun reading you posts, your comments on my posts and chatting with you in person during our last meet! XOXO

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  24. First of all, thanks for dropping by my blog and secondly, I'm glad to know you despite not in person. I admired you as you are not only an iron lady but also a very persistent person.

    Keep it up as you are given hopes to many of your blog readers especially widows.

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    1. Oh I enjoyed myself at your blog. Thanks for opening up your space for us to hang out. I am delighted to hear that you think I can give hopes to widows.

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  25. Kiew jay is one of the very lucky and strong woman to be able to put everything behind her and continue her life, living every moment at her best. Seriously, not many can do that :)

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    1. You are right, she is one of those woman who will always keep her head above water. I admired her strength and her possible outlook in life.

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  26. Hello Quay Po, I'm back from my holidays.Why you made me cry when reading the 1st posting of you since I'm back, haiyah, I'm such a crying baby, blame no one!

    I hope that I can try out "kiew jay'" vegetarian food when I go back next time. Hope that I won't forget!It's amazing how can someone make vegetarian fish? I love the vegetarian food selling at a chinese temple that I visit in Sydney, definitely love the vegetarian food!

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    1. Welcome back! Me too, I am a cry baby too so next time when we are sad, we can cry together. hehe. Let me know if you come back to Malaysia and in KL, I will ask my mum to cook "jai" and invite you and your family to my home for dinner.

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