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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Hand Which Rocks the Cradle Rules the World

I logged onto the Straits Times portal over the weekend and read that Mrs Lee Kuan Yew had passed away. "So... it has finally happened," I said to myself. And then I read the comments which accompanied the post. Many of them offered condolences, but there was one which upset me some. This person asked "So many people say she is a great lady. Why was she so great? What has she done?"

Why is it that so many people equate greatness with personal achievement? Many women spend their entire lives helping others achieve. Behind every successful career woman, there is a grandmother who helps with the kids. Behind every scholar who walks up to the podium to receive his/her scholarship, there is an encouraging and loving mother. Behind every successful man, there is a woman who listens, cares and value adds.

Here was a woman whose silent voice was heard through her husband's strident tones. She wrote his speeches. She vetted them. Here was a woman whose love for gardening was translated through her husband into a reality that every Singaporean takes for granted today - The Garden City. Here was a woman who stood between all those who would hurt her husband with dishonesty and subterfuge by identifying them, and flagging them out. And therefore, she gave to her husband the political victory that helped him bring Singapore from 3rd World to 1st.

Here was a woman who never once broke trust with her husband. Everything she said or did prospered him. How great a woman is it who can do that without fail for 70 years? How difficult is it to shoot a ball into a hoop every time, every day, many times a day, for 70 years?

She was a constant woman who put her entire life to the service of her family and her husband... and because she was so very intelligent and so very capable, she amplified their mark upon the world. How many of us spend thousands of dollars on high quality stereo amplifiers? The wifely amplifiers of the world are no less important, and I would bet my bottom dollar that in their generation, no other better wifely amplifier exists.

A very successful young lady (straight A student and more) I know commented in a half-ashamed tone that her mother was only a housewife, and doesn't really know much. Now, I also know that this young lady has 2 other siblings who are straight A students and more too. One successful child may be pure luck, but THREE successful children is SKILL.

And so I said, "Don't say that about your mother. If she hadn't had to stay home to labour over you, she could well have become a CEO of some large organisation, for the apple falls not far from the tree. Where does your intelligence come from, if not from her? You wouldn't be who you are today without her hand rocking your cradle."

And lastly, how great a woman is it who could have herself leapt into the political fray and having beaten Lee Kuan Yew once, she could have done it again... but she chose to eschew the in-your-face greatness and fame, for the bland and gentle greatness that I have always associated with her.

She was a great lady because she was as necessary to Singapore's success as air. Every day you live and breathe air. You don't notice it do you? But when there is no air, people die. Without her towering presence in the background of the Singapore Story, history books may well document an alternate reality today.

And I haven't even mentioned that she co-founded one of the most illustrious law firms in Singapore... a feat which many men cannot match. She was as good as any man, and more because she was also mother and wife extraordinaire.


My SINFONIA said...

Well said Petunia! The Singapore Story is a love story.

Blur Ting said...

You have said it all so well. I have great respect for her and though I know she had been ill, I was still shocked to hear of (and unwilling to accept) her passing. When I watched the video on RazorTV, tears just kept rolling down my face. To me, she has excelled as a wife, mother and mentor to everyone.

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

and lots of men look at the TV wishing their wives are the same but didn't search themselves if they deserve it. hahahahahahahahahahaha...... =P

Gina said...

Petunia, thank you for expressing the depth of Kwa Geok Choo @ Mrs Lee Kuan Yew. You've not only brought out her subtle greatness, but reminded me to reflect upon my 'success' today and attribute that to my mother.

Mrs Lee is indeed someone so special, Singapore is lucky to have her, and will miss her dearly.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a beautifully written eulogy.

J.C. said...

I may not know Mrs. Lee well but I believe she must be a great person to be able to stood by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew throughout his political career and his time as the Prime Minister of Singapore.

My condolence to her and family and to all Singaporeans for your loss.

Wen-ai said...

she is our 国母 and I am deeply sadden by her passing as well. She was a remarkable lady, a true inspiration.

Malar said...

I do not know Mrs.Lee Kuan Yew but i bet she must been an amazing lady!
My condolence to all Singaporeans!
A well said article! Many people forgot the lady behind a man's success!

petunialee said...

Unfortunately, many men forget the ladies who helped them. Lee Kuan Yew never did. He was steadfast in his love and he loved her till the end. And he never forgot the love of their youth. It is such a very beautiful love story. There is nothing more beautiful than the love elderly folks have for each other. It is a gentle and warm love that is so very strong.

Angie Hui小虹 said...

Well done Petunia!