"Mom's been kidnapped!" My sister was sobbing on the other end of the phone. It was the end of February. I ended up getting on a flight that evening bound for SFO. As soon as I arrived, I was looking up lawyers from the seat of my Hertz Rental car. I even picked my sister up from the Oakland airport (she had flown in from the east coast) and we caught up over a Cantonese meal.
CRAZY (RICH) ASIANS REAL LIFE MOVIE
Explaining what had happened to the Danville police (just down the road from my dad's house) the next day seemed like well, the sequel to the Crazy Rich Asians movie, sans "Rich" part. A lawyer had handed my mom's caregiver a letter saying that my mom was filing a temporary restraining order against my dad for elder abuse (totally not true). The lawyer showed up at my dad's house with said letter and my dad handed over my mom's passport and handbag. A week later, my cousin found out from the security guard in my mom's apartment in Singapore that she had indeed been seen with a man. This was further corroborated by a Private Investigator we hired to follow my mom. The man was my mom's good friend and former roommate, Graham.
HOT ON THE TRAIL
Last weekend, my 41st birthday weekend, my husband and I thought we would be able to find them in Singapore. We stayed at a hotel down the road from my mom's church in Katong, went to all of her old haunts, spoke to the same security guard, went to the temple where my Popo (maternal grandma)'s tablet is, but couldn't find them. We tried calling Graham on Kakaotalk and texting, but all to no avail. Finally, at a Toast Box (a cafe that serves kaya toast and coffee/tea Singaporean style), one of my mom's all-time favorites, I finally broke down.
LETTING MOM GO
Somewhere between Singapore and Malaysia (my hubby and I went on to Penang after Singapore), I realized something I had realized before: I had to let my mom go. If she wanted to be in Singapore, I was no one to tell her that she couldn't live in Singapore. It was my ego that wanted to control her and the situation--not my true self. Speaking to friends in Europe about my mom's situation, they all nonchalantly said, "Yeah, I mean who's to say she's not happier there in Singapore? She probably is way happier. Plus, her old memories are of Singapore (referring her dementia)." I had to let her go, because I was doing to her what I resented her doing to me--not letting me go as an adult. Whoa.
COMING FROM A PLACE OF LOVE
Talking to my friend Lisa who is a fellow life coach she said this, "Well, everything is coming from a place of love, you know? That man Graham really loves your mom and is taking care of her. You and your family are trying to find you mom because you really love her. She is one loved lady!" Her last sentence was a joke, but it rang true. My mom was really loved and we did really love her. All of us.
I spent most of my life feeling like I wasn't good enough. Talking to my mom's caregiver at Starbucks in Danville, a place they frequented almost daily, I cried. Not because that was where my mom had been "taken" by the lawyer at the end of February, but because the caregiver had told me that my mom spoke so highly of me. And then I said, "I was never good enough in her eyes." Holding my book in her hands (almost as if it were a mirror), the caregiver smiled a deep and loving smile. In that moment, I knew I had to forgive my mom and me, for everything, and that no matter what, I was good enough. It no longer served me or my mom to carry the feelings of not being good enough around anymore.
IN MY HEART
So where is my mom, you ask? She is in my heart where she has always been. This Mother's Day, two years ago, I started my first blog post about my mom and admitted to the world my struggles WITH depression and her dementia. Today, I write to the world from a place of love and forgiveness and wish my mom the best Mother's Day, because that is what she deserves this Mother's Day and every day of her life. I love you, mom. Thanks for helping me find myself while I was looking for you. I know I'll see you soon <3.
My sister and I have since reconnected WITH my mom via phone and have found out that she is safe and doing well in Singapore.
SpeakHER. InsipireHER. TraveleHER.