Monday, May 19, 2008

Mother's Day

Perhaps wrapping individual stalks of carnation nicely with gift paper, and distributing the flowers to the female residents of the home on Mother's day has become a tradition for the volunteers from ASH. This year was no exception when we were supplied with close to a hundred stalks of carnation and lavish strips of ribbons. Although the wrapping of the carnations with the gift paper and ribbons were accomplished by every volunteer, we all know of a grim truth: majority of the work was done by the ladies. I know that men are not exactly known to exhibit deftness for delicate work, but the tying of ribbons to the bottom ends of the carnations that day merely reinforced this cruel fact. Utterly hopeless, I could only finish a stalk of carnation after a mind-numbing 3 minutes attempt (an eternity in the fraternity of florists), which led Eunice to comment, "Aiyoh, you guys cannot make it for this kind of work la.".

It could not be more true, Jiahao and Benny (and finally Xing) ultimately gave up on trying to tie the ribbons and left the work to more capable hands. As we stood beside the ladies to watch them perform their crafts like awe-struck school boys, they finished the remainder of the wrapping faster than we could say "Wah...". Alas, I understand why guys have to pay a premium to buy flowers for girls on any occasion, rather than pulling off a D.I.Y, which could save them a tidy sum of cash. We next proceeded to distribute the carnations to every female residents of the home, wearing the brightest smile we could put on. Heaping profuse thanks on us, I guess the greatest joy of the day was to see that the aunties actually like our work with the carnations.

Remembering that there is a solitary auntie living in the male wards on the third level with her husband, I headed to her ward to distribute the carnation to her. As I handed the carnation to her and wished her a happy mother's day, she suddenly jumped and unleashed a torrent of cantonese at me. With the limited vocabulary I've learnt from watching cantonese dramas, I managed to deduce what the auntie was trying to say. She had thought that I was trying to sell her the carnations, not unlike the scene from period dramas where patriotic youths sell flowers to raise the money for a revolutionary cause. Suppressing an urge to burst into a giggle, I tried to interrupt the auntie amidst her exclamation of, "Ngor mo qin mai lei ge far (translation: I don't have the money to buy your flowers)" and explain to her with the best cantonese I could muster, that the carnations are free, and it is in celebration of mother's day. Remaining skeptical (I could sense that she was about to call her husband to beat me up), the auntie finally bought my story when I left the ward and did not reappear with a donation box or a money pouch.

This has to be the most memorable mother's day ever (despite the hilarious encounter with the adorable cantonese auntie), as I learnt that sometimes you need not lavish expensive gifts upon our mothers during mother's day. More often than not, a simple stalk of carnation wrapped with sincerity is more than suffice to take the place of a handbag or a pair of heels. Ah... I can hear the sounds of protests along with skepticism, but I can assure you that all the aunties at ASH will gladly concur with this notion. Even the cantonese speaking auntie was spotted displaying the stalk of carnation proudly at the side of her wheelchair, when I return to the ward a few moment later. Truly, the love of a mother for her child could not be expressed by mere words alone, and I'm comforted to know that the carnation is able to aptly convey the thanks of sons and daughters to their mothers on this special day.

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