No one in our family was prepared for the news that my mother-in-law passed away suddenly on February 12, 2018. She went out for morning dim sum and tea as usual with her eldest son, returned home and started the laundry. A normal Monday routine. My father in law woke up from his nap and found her in the washroom departed.
My family quickly made arrangements to fly back to Toronto. We came together to grieve and comfort one another. During the process of preparing for the funeral service bulletin, we looked for hymns and scripture readings which were anchored in our assured hope in Christ. I was especially touched by my husband’s eulogy for his mother:
Born into a poor family in the rural area of China, mom had limited schooling up to primary three. She was an industrious woman who worked long hours as a shopkeeper of a department store everyday. Time was tough and food was rationed. I vividly remember sharing pork bone soup with my brothers while my parents had none. They were contented with watching their children enjoying the soup.
My family immigrated to Canada in the 80s. Even with no English language proficiency, mom managed to work in a food-processing factory until she retired and stayed home caring for her grandchildren. In terms of education and career development, mom had the least among the five men in her life (one husband and four sons). Yet, in my opinion, she was the wisest among all of us. With a few words, she resolved conflicts in the family and worked out solutions to problems. It is said in Matthew 6:21 that “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Mom had no monetary savings, but was a rich woman because she had poured out her love into the hearts and lives of every family member and many others near her.
My mother-in-law enjoyed each chapter of her life with optimism. She came to know the Lord several years ago and was baptized with my father-in-law. They attended Sunday service regularly and were grateful for God’s blessings in their life. I echo with my husband that my mother-in-law was a servant-leader in her family, liberating the potential of those around her. She listened, empathized, brought healing and mended relationships. She looked out for the interests of others and persevered through hardship. She was a giver who neither exercised nor demanded but allowed power to pass through her.