What really matters
I was zipping through the supermarket on a wet Wednesday morning, picking up some groceries for the week. I saw an elderly man with a toddler in tow. It was a grandpa and grandson morning outing to the neighbourhood supermarket. As grandpa and toddler were going up the escalator, grandma and Kor Kor were coming down the other way. “Grandma, grandma!” the little child called out.
Grandma cast a loving look at the little one and replied that she was going back down to the supermarket to buy some pork.
Something about this mundane scene at My Village shopping centre touched a deep chord in me. Family ties. Family time. Keeping each other company and spending time with our loved ones. Time for the young ones, for the elderly, for the lonely. I craved for a kinder, gentler pace of life where there is time to hold a little boy’s hand, to visit an ailing friend, for slow meals with good friends. And I am thankful that I have managed to experience a bit of that.
I cast my thoughts towards my son and parents. I remember how much time my dad used to spend with my son when he was a toddler. Precious years. I would love to be able to do the same for my grandchildren. I am looking forward to that.
Is more time at work, missing out on all these growing up moments of a child, really fulfilling in the longer run? Edlyn my little eight-year-old friend said last week “spending time with loved ones is more important than sitting in the office in front of the damned computer!” She really got it at that age.
I went home to my kitchen. Looked at the things I bought from the market and proceeded to make a curry vegetable dish complete with handmade and homemade yong tau hoo. By noon, a hot steaming pot emerged from the kitchen. I served it with pride. My parents and I sat there enjoying this freshly cooked pot of veggies atop steaming hot rice like it was some delicacy. After lunch, we sat and sipped some hot tea to wash the food down.
It was pure JOY to watch my parents eating with relish what I had made with love. They liked the dish so much that more stuff were added into it and they had the same thing for dinner. My mum said they enjoyed it just as much at dinner time.
I consider it a privilege to be able to do this with my parents on a regular basis. My brother had messaged me earlier this week in great frustration. He was working on a huge case and has had punishing work hours to the exclusion of most other things.
This is a familiar predicament for many of us who are still working. It is always – this is a big project. After this project is over, I will have more time for so and so and this and that. And then after the project is done, another looms up.
Today, I took my mum out alone to a small Italian restaurant with no menu. I decided to spoil my mum a bit. There is no occasion. Mother’s Day has come and gone. But who needs an occasion to have a great mother and daughter outing on a slow Sunday?
Chomel the restaurant owner pulled out some stops to welcome us at her place. Over 2 hours, we sat enjoying the delicious and morsels she dished out from her kitchen, with pride and joy.
Work and money? Business and career? Sure, they are important. Money is too. What really matters is being there to care for and to be with loved ones. I thank God that I gave myself the freedom and flexibility of time when I was still relatively young, in my forties. I gave myself freedom of time before I had financial freedom. I tightened my belt and held my breath while I worked at my business.