A Mother’s Heart: Mdm Doris Lai

As Mother's Day inches closer, we sat down for a chat with Mdm Doris Lai, a wheelchair-user and single mother of a teenaged girl who has a profound hearing problem. [...]

As Mother’s Day inches closer, we sat down for a chat with Mdm Doris Lai, a wheelchair-user and single mother of a teenaged girl who has a profound hearing problem. We got to hear the loving and supportive mother’s story – how life changed for them after an accident, and how she persevered and emerged as a strong parent for her child.

Mdm Doris Lai greeted us with a warm smile as we entered her house. Seated on her wheelchair, Mdm Doris plied us with drinks and invited us to sit and make ourselves comfortable. As she set aside her work to chat with us, we couldn’t help but feel looked after and cared for.

A divorcee with a teenaged daughter, Mdm Lai’s story is one that is encouraging and inspiring. She was working in a travel agency and was an active person with a strong love for swimming, travelling and life in general. When Mdm Lai found out that her daughter Ruth had profound hearing loss in one ear as well as some difficulties in learning, she quit her job to guide her in her studies. It was only when Ruth fared better in school that she started to work on a part time basis again.

When life seemed to be back to a routine, Mdm Lai then had an unfortunate fall and was temporarily paralysed from her neck down. Today, she bears a scar running down the back of her neck, a grim reminder of her battles on the surgery table more than a decade ago. Mdm Lai’s condition and Ruth’s profound hearing problem were something they both had to face and overcome together. “The first two years were the toughest,” said Mdm Lai. They had to make adjustments to their lifestyles and Ruth, then seven years old, had to mature quickly in order to understand and accommodate to Mdm Lai’s physical limitations. “Initially, Ruth could not understand why we had to go out less and it took some time for her to get used to it. When I got better after several years, one of the first things we did was to bake cookies together,” Mdm Lai reminisced.

Both mother and daughter, who is currently a third-year nursing student at a local polytechnic, had to come to terms with the unfortunate circumstances, and through fighting the obstacles together, managed to emerge above their circumstances and live life positively. Radiating a motherly warmth, Mdm Lai believes that what has kept her going all these years, despite doctors’ prognosis that she won’t live past five years after her surgeries, is the wish to see her daughter grow into an adult, graduate and live a fulfilling life, “As a mother, all I want to do is to show support for my daughter in whatever she does. I want to be there to encourage her and lend her my support and guidance. As long as that is accomplished, I have done my part.”

When we finally spoke about her favorite Mother’s Day memory, it took us by surprise when she mentioned a simple yet profoundly impactful outing that took place a couple of years back. Mdm Lai was contented and most happy when her daughter brought her out and treated her to a meal at a food court. “Ruth does not earn an income as a student, and most of her money comes from the summer internships she takes on. Though it isn’t much, I am contented because the most important thing is we spend time together.” That alone, was an act that touched her heart. All a mother wants from her children is to spend more time with them.

Mdm Lai’s story proves that a mother’s love prevails over much. More than that is the attitude and positive mentality that Mdm Lai cultivates in her and her daughter, which allowed them to overcome all obstacles and emerge on top despite the circumstances. Mdm Lai also spoke about her faith and believes that everything happens for a reason, and she is just happy to be living well, with Ruth by her side.

We hope you have enjoyed reading the story of Mdm Lai. As the big day for mothers is approaching soon, we wish all mothers a happy Mother’s Day!