It’s hard to put into words how someone so small in stature could make such a large impression in your life.
This small woman, my Thai mother, who was about 5 foot in height, had a huge personality and an abundance of love and a love for life that Thais have in abundance. You could see that she had a hard life, her legs were slightly bent as she had bad knees, due to working long hours in the field and land. When she walked, she rocked slightly, sometimes using a walking stick or anything she could hold, to help her get from a to b. Looking back now, that lovely walk was part of her, I had never seen her walk in any other way. I would love to walk beside her, holding her had, to help her walk and was the first to be beside her as she exited her car, when we went into town, making sure she had a steady arm to hold.
There would be many times, when we went into Chiang Mai city centre to shop, and of course eat, Mum would be with us, telling us, well Nui, where to go and the best places to eat. I would see the looks of many Thais, who were walking by, as this Falang (European) was walking hand in hand with this lovely thai lady. I would see a mixture of looks of surprise but mostly smiles and nods of approval. Looking back on it now, all theses times I helped my mum, `I have never seen a similar situation. So its not a common sight.
Mum and I would get close, I never thought about it, but we gradually grew closer and began to love each other. We would genuinely miss the other when I had to leave, either going to Hang Dong or back to the UK, I would always give her a big hug and tell her i missed her, (In Thai)
I would remember many times, when Nui was telling me off, Mum would intervene and tell Nui to leave me alone, so I had an ally. Lol.
I must admit, I never fully unbraced her cooking. I would be summoned into the kitchen , in Samoeng, so be shown various dishes I had never seen before, This would be Village Cooking, things that were al around the garden would be put into a pot and cooked, Some, to be honest I never like, other far too hot, but now and then I would find a nugget of loveliness and scoff it down. On one occasion Thee,my son tried to get me to taste some ,dung beetles, I declined, he he, even Leo our dog would not touch them. She loved sticky rice, and was told off many times by her doctor, not to eat as much, telling a Thai not to eat some food, is like flogging a dead horse.
We would have to tell Mum off many times, as she would be in pain with her knees, but still try to do housewor, she did not want to loose her independence. Nui and I would pay for her bills and give her money every month, this is a tradition in Thailand, when you marry a Thai lady, you take on the family, and in return the family will look after you. Mum would tell me and Nui off, as we would have the fan on, and complain about the electric bill. I had stayed for a week, and the fan was on all of the time. ( There was no A/C) I always smiled at this, as she would be the one , who made sure it was on, and was looking after me, making sure I had a cold drink, tell Nui off for telling me off, and making sure I had food to eat, not to mention she was the one who put the fan on for me, as she was concerned about me getting too hot.
I will miss mum, and Nui, lying on the floor, during the hot part of the day, and see them asleep, Mum would mainly be in her kitchen , her head on a wooden head rest, fanning herself in the heat. It was a habit I started to pick up on, and I would have a siesta at the same time. Well, as they say, when in Rome.
When I was in working in the UK last year, Nui and Mum got a lovely puppy, called Lucky, I have always wanted a dog, and Lucky would be my, well our, first dog. I would watch lucky photographs on Facebook and was so excited , waiting to see him. Well, when I did meet the little guy, he was Mums dog. Lucky would be hiding under her skirt, hiding from this man he had not seen before. It did take some time for him to get to know me, but he always ran to mum when he was uncertain. Mum loved him, laughing when he ran to her and laughed when he played.
Mum would watch in amazement when I started to play with Lucky. Thai’s don’t really understand dos the way Europeans do, Dogs to them are animals around the house used to hunt and protect the house, something to be afraid of , seen but not heard. So I would start to push Lucky around, play with him, hide and chase him, and Lucky would play, running toward me, then running back to Mums skirt to hide, all to the loud laughing and amazement to Mum. I would hide my face with my hands, lying on the ground, and lucky would come and look, then run away when i chase him, He, like all puppies loved to play. Mum was amazed to see Lucky play with ice cubes, chasing them as they glided on the floor and he loved to crunch them when, he managed to get them in his mouth.
Unfortunately Lucky died and it hurt her bad, she cried a lot and it took me some time to persuade Nui that we could get another dog, as Nui was worried Mum would get too attached, We did get another dog, and Leo fell in love with mum as well. He loves being at Mums , and loves mums big garden and being looked after by her. So Leo had a second home and Mum. Looked after him when we were away.
Mum did not like staying in Hang Dong with us, as she did not have friends there and she always loved talking and visiting friends in the village. She also told Nui that I should stay I Hang Dong, when Nui was in the Village, as I had friends there and no one in the village spoke english, so mum understood me too well and was always looking out for me.
For me, Mum was and is Thailand, friendly, smiling, and genuine, free to love, open and so ready to laugh, she took me into her heart without a thought, even though she spoke no english, and me very little Thai, we communicated in another level.
I will miss her so much, miss her ever present laugh, her smile, her huge presence and her love. I only had her in my live for about 7 years, but she made a massive impression, so my wife Nui and my son Thee, will have a bigger hole left in their hearts.
As a fellow Buddhist, I hope that I will meet her in the new life, and I know she will be as big, bold, loving and full of life, as she has been in this life.
Miss you Mum, and thank you for giving me joy, love and happiness, where you were her and even after you have left your body.
Thank you Mum
Kit Tung. Mak Mak