Low's family tree


Jian Gu
Claudia Low

My name is Claudia Low. The meaning of my name, Claudia, is “lame”.
My mother is Lee Chun Ti. She has 2 elder brothers, her father is Peter Lee and her mother is Liew Peng Eng. When my mother was in primary school, her father worked as a sailor. He only came back to visit home once a year,and my mother often wrote letters to him from home.

When my mother was about 12-13 years old, her mother got breast cancer, and had to undergo a surgery. My mother said that it was a tough time, and my grandfather was not even in Singapore when my grandmother had her surgery. Unfortunately, a year later, my grandmother’s illness relapsed.  She was bedridden and my grandfather had to resign his job to take care of her. “For 2-3 years, my father was jobless, and our family had no income. We were very poor and lived through borrowing,” my mother said. Tragically, after 2 years, her mother succumbed to the cancer and passed away. My mother was only 15 then and she was heartbroken.

过后,我的妈妈的生活变得十分艰苦。我的外公再回去做工,把三个孩子独自留在新加坡,没有任何亲戚照顾他们。那时,只有一个善良的邻居叫“Auntie Mary”. She always checked in on them and even invited them to have CNY reunion dinner just two weeks after my grandmother’s death. “I felt very grateful to Auntie Mary. It was a Chinese tradition that a family with someone just passed away would bring bad luck to others, yet she did not mind,” said my mother. 我的妈妈还是很感恩“Auntie Mary”,每逢农历新年都会带我和我的兄弟姐妹去拜访她。

My grandmother’s passing away was one of my mother’s turning point in life. Suddenly, she had to shoulder the responsibility of doing all the household chores and making sure that food was available during meal times for her brothers. She had to learn to do everything from scratch by herself, as there was no one there to guide her at all. “I learnt to do things by trial and error. Sometimes, upon buying groceries from stall owners at the market, I would enquire how to use the food to cook.”
My mother’s family lived in a rented attap house in a kampong in Sembawang until she was 8 years old. 我的妈妈还记得,在晚上时,当她要去厕所,她的母亲就会用手电筒,跟她走很远的路才能到一间厕所,而且那间厕所是一些不同的家庭共用的。 Subsequently, the family moved to Bedok Reservoir, living in a 3 bedroom HDB flat until she was 19. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
我母亲的父亲叫李文保 . 他是家族里辈份最高的长者,今年六十七岁了。虽然我这次没有机会亲自访问我的外公,但是我访问了我的妈妈,而且她跟我讲一些小故事,让我对外公有了更深的了解。My grandfather was a great cook. As a sailor, he was in charge of the culinary section and ensured that food was sufficient and provided for all on deck. My grandfather changed his job to being in charge of the food at the Catholic High Boarding School a few years after his wife passed away. He would have to prepare breakfast and dinner for the students daily. His last job is a taxi driver, and he still is one now.

My mother told me that when he was a sailor, he once saved many lives. Even with the captain’s refusal, my grandfather allowed a group of refugees from China on board the ship. As a cook, he gave them food and water and all the refugees reached Singapore safely. Without my grandfather, they would have possibly died. Just about three years ago, when he was talking to a customer as a taxi driver, the customer said that his parents were looking for a man that saved them when they were refugees by allowing them on board a ship. As they continued chatting, they realised that that savior was actually my grandfather.
After writing this essay about my family, I really learnt more about my family. 我同时也为我的母亲与外公感到骄傲。My mother is an independent, resilient, and responsible person. My grandfather is a life saviour. I also know how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family. I hope that I will be able to keep close relationships with them, and know more about my family history.
Word count: 1000 words

Pic1: Picture of my maternal grandfather, my uncle and my mother (toddler).