It was on the 8th of January 2021 that I held a funeral for my beloved father here. Little did I know then that I would be holding my mother’s funeral here in less than one and a half years.
My mother married my father as soon as she reached the marriage age for women in China, which was 20 years old. According to my grandmother, my mother was a very beautiful lady and was so beautiful that she was called the flower of the village. I can easily believe that as my mother was really a beautiful woman even though she never wore any make up in her whole life.
Right after their wedding, my father fled to Hong Kong for a better life, and my mother waited for my father patiently for nearly 20 years before she joined him in Hong Kong in 1982. By then she had already passed the childbearing age. Foreseeing that, my grandmother arranged for me to be adopted as the only child of my parents.
Although my mother did not give birth to me, she treated me just like her own flesh and blood. My mother was never educated, she did not know how to read or how to write, but she did know how to love, and especially how to love me.
My mother never told us in words that she loved me but you could tell it by her actions. She knew I liked durian, so she bought me during every week and whenever I visited her in China. She knew Graham liked pizza, so she ordered him pizza every time he visited her. She knew Karen liked avocados, so she searched the heavens for them even though it was difficult to get them in China, She knew Christy liked Cantonese sponge cake, and she would make sure they were on the table when she visited them. She also knew David liked Yakult, so she bought piles of them so that we could bring them home.
My mother was a farmer before she came to Hong Kong, and I would help her during the rice plantation season, every time after helping her, she would use her limited allowance to buy ice lollies to reward me. Please do not underestimate the value of an ice lolly. During the days when food was extremely scarce, that ice lolly meant a lot to a little kid like me.
My mother worked as a factory worker after she came to Hong Kong with an income of only $1,200 a month in 1982, but she was very good at handling finance and saving. She managed to save up and to buy some land and build a big house for her and my father to retire to, even with their low income. The land and the house which she only paid $30,000 for have since increased by more than 1000 times.
My mother was a typical traditional Chinese woman, she was very loyal and devoted to my father and to me. When our 3 children were young, my mother rendered immeasurable amount of help in raising them, during the first few months after their births, my mother got up at 3 am in the morning to feed them so that I could have a nice sleep.
She was also a very kind and generous person, she treated her tenants so well that all of them become her friends and after my father passed away and I could not go back to see her due to the covid, it was one of her tenants who provided her meals and took care of her.
Although my parents quarrelled all the time when they were together, I knew it was one of the ways they expressed their love and dependence on each other. After my father passed away a year ago, my mother’s health started to deteriorate and to the point that I insisted her coming back to Hong Kong so that we could take care of her.
She came back to Hong Kong at the end of January. Her health was quite alright then, but the doctor said her heart had started to fail. Not long after that, they found that her lungs were also failing, eventually to the point that she could not even breathe properly without oxygen. She passed away on 6 April 2022 at the age of 81, the same age as my father.
My mother and father were baptized on the same day in 2014 after worshiping idols for many years, and I take comfort in the fact that she is now with my father and our Lord Jesus in heaven where there is no more pain or suffering.
We shall miss her terribly, but we know that we will see her again in heaven. Rest in peace my beloved mother, we love you dearly.
If there are roses in heaven,
Please Father pick a bunch,
Put them in my mother’s arms,
Tell her they are from us,
When she turns to smile,
Hug her for a while,
and kiss her cheek,
Tell her she is dearly missed.
I first met Angel’s mother in 1990, when I visited their home with another friend. I had no idea, at that time, that she was my future mother-in-law.
Because of the language barrier, we were hardly ever able to converse directly, but I always appreciated her often taking the initiative to try. After Angel and I were married, and we were living together with her parents, I still found it almost impossible to understand even what turned out to be the simplest of comments or questions from her mother, but they always turned out to be caring and were never critical.
Here was someone who had had an extremely traumatic early life, having experienced at first hand the brutality of China’s Cultural Revolution, worlds apart from my own comfortable and relatively privileged upbringing in the UK. Somehow, she had come to trust and accept me as a family member very quickly, and I had no idea how or why that was.
One day, when our extended family group were sitting outside her house together in Shenzhen, she said something that I will never forget. It was our daughter Karen who translated it to English for me – looking at me, she said, “You look so old, like you’ve been carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders! Don’t you know we’re always here to support you?”
Even during her last few days, she still often asked if I had eaten – even when we were visiting her in hospital. We are sad that she has now left us, but we know that she is now together with my father-in-law and our father in heaven.
Trying to find the words to describe Porpor is proving a harder task than I had imagined. Not because there are no feelings or memories, but because there are so many – and for the great times that I had with Porpor, I am eternally grateful.
“Your Jesus does listen to you! Don’t forget to pray for you and your siblings! I can tell Jesus listens to you!”
When David was still a young toddler, I remember a time when he was sick with a fever. Porpor and I sat together on the sofa, whilst I held David in my arms. Trying to comfort David, Porpor leaned over and said the above, reminding me to rely on Jesus in every situation. Though Porpor had not been baptised then, she talked of how she saw changes in us whenever we prayed, and how she believed that “our Jesus” could heal David when he was ill. That intimate moment was special to me, witnessing our Porpor, someone who used to worship all kinds of idols so adamantly, suddenly share her observations on Christ’s love for us.
“Your Gunggung’s going to shout at me for talking about it again!”
There was never a dull moment when Porpor was around: Complaining about the heat, and then about the cold; Her eyes twinkling whenever she talked about Shamshuipo; Shouting at shopkeepers to give her everything at a lower price; then turning to me and asking sweetly whether the sweater looked nice! The way she whispered secrets and then quickly ran away, cutely avoiding Gunggung’s telling off and then laughing as she said:
Porpor always said my name with the most unique rhythm and conviction, as if she had something important and urgent to tell me every single time. Thank you Porpor for being such a loud, kind and powerful force in our lives. I look forward to the day I can shout “Porpor!” loudly back at you, and hear all about the amazing ways you’ve been enjoying heaven so far.
Once you step into a room with our grandma in it, it’s hard to ignore her presence. She’d always ask what we’d been up to, if we were staying healthy, and making sure we knew the importance of working hard. She showered you with gifts and adoration whenever you saw her. There aren’t enough words in any language to express how caring she was.
She’d overhear us talking about some type of food we enjoyed recently, and would do whatever it took to make sure that dish specifically was on her dining table by the time we next visited. David was always a big fan of Yakult, and somehow whenever we visited there’d be a giant pellet of Yakult ready for us to take home. That was something that puzzled me often, how did such a small lady carry something that weighed over 5kg from the store back home? But of course this is something she was teaching us – you’d be willing to do anything for the people you love.
Her presence will be missed in every family gathering, where she was usually the head of the table, making sure everyone received their large portions and guiding lively conversations, making sure she caught up with every member of our large family. Her laugh was so unique and was able to resonate around the room and spread joy so well that I will never forget it for years to come.
It pained us to see her suffering, but I’m glad our mother was able to video call us by her hospital bed so that we could say our final words, and to thank her for taking care of us all these years. She is now reunited with our grandpa up in heaven, I’m sure she’s missed him. Rest well grandma, we’ll meet again one day.
When I was younger, my porpor would always tell me – ‘get good grades and I will bring you your favourite Yakult drink (多多) when I come visit’. Although I never achieved good grades back then, she would always arrive bearing bags of treats, knowing it would make me happy. Albeit they were just snacks, they meant more to me than words could ever describe.
That is only one of my many fond memories of porpor. Being the kind, generous and loving person that she was, I enjoyed every moment with her. Probably one of my favourite things to do with her was to go to the local markets in the mornings, watching her haggle with shopkeepers until they surrendered to her bargained price. ‘Your porpor is a persuasive woman’ is what they would always say. And although the ability to persuade was one of her many stellar qualities, what influenced me the most was her ability to care for people. Whether it be her family, or her friends (especially her tenants), porpor never failed to provide her support whenever we needed it.
With porpor now reunited with gunggung in heaven, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have had such loving grandparents. Although it was my gunggung who shared deep knowledge with me, it was porpor who made sure I worked hard in everything I do, and awarded me for my achievements.
Now, I can picture porpor up in heaven, speaking her mind to gunggung as he reads his daily newspaper, telling him the things that she bought for her friends whilst she was at the market. Like a Yakult drink, porpor was sweet and loving, a joy to have around, and always made me smile. It is with heartbroken sadness that I bid farewell to her. Goodbye and enjoy eternal life in heaven with gunggung, dear porpor.
Date: Saturday, 23 April 2022
Venue: St Andrew’s Church
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