She raised 5 daughters single-handedly with only a form 3 education and didn’t speak a word of English till she met my dad.

What can I say in tribute to this woman on this special month?

How do I capture in mere words, the struggles that she faced, and the strength she must have had to overcome them?

As a woman in her 20s, she led a sheltered existence, caring for her 3 young children with the help of maids and living in her own little bubble. Until the day her whole world come crumbling down with the crash of a Nuri plane… her dear husband along with it.

I cannot fathom how she felt – the fear and loneliness – and yet having to carry on for the sake of her girls.

You see, I knew her only as someone who was strict. Who worked and worked and never really had time for us. Something I didn’t really think much about then. We grew up working in a sundry shop from a young age. Hauling sacks of potatoes and 20kilogram bags of rice, facing hundreds of coconuts that needed cracking and grinding (which my body still pays the price for today). Life was school to work, and no play.

It may sound harsh, but when I look back with the clarity that age brings, I understand that all that multiplied by so much more was what she had to endure.

I’m grateful. Grateful that it was difficult. Grateful because I got top quality lessons on resilience. On hard work. On loyalty. On detachment. On faith. Grateful that she showed us all how to be through her example.

I’d like to honour and thank her for the sacrifices she’s made in ensuring that no one gets left behind. I still don’t know how she did it!