Excerpt for Shirley's Memoirs by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Chapter 1


My mum was such a hardworking lady. She came to Northern Ireland in the 1960’s. After marrying my father in Hong Kong, she sacrificed a lot by coming here to make a life.

I do not know too many details of my mum’s early life in the United Kingdom but I do have many pictures of her working in Larne in the restaurant where she worked. She worked in Scotland for three months, after arriving in the UK before crossing the water to Northern Ireland.

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of being separated from her family in Hong Kong, not to mention the culture shock she must have experienced upon arrival in the UK. She came here with very limited English when she was just sixteen after marrying my father. My parents had married only after three months after meeting; they were introduced to each other after my granny’s fear of my dad marrying a white girl, as racist as that may sound. My dad had come to the UK as a single guy in the year or two before he married my mum…. when my granny (dad’s mum) had heard during these trips that the Irish girls were always flirting with him. No surprise as my father was a very handsome man. My granny reportedly panicked and arranged for him to get hitched. Although I do not believe it was a strictly traditional kind of arranged marriage.

I am very like my mum. A friend of hers, when I was about seventeen years old said I was the spitting image of my mum. I have her tall slender physique, and her long thick Chinese hair. Of course! I am her daughter.

I miss my mother a lot. She was a very private person. I was told before that I am a very reserved person. Perhaps they meant I am like her.

I am very lucky to have had such a wonderful and kind giving mother; my dearest mum died on 17th March 2017.

The worst day of my life. I remember the run up to that dreadful day as if it happened yesterday.

Mum died 2.30am on the morning of 17th March 2017.

St Patricks Day in Ireland. It certainly wasn’t a lucky day for me, for my family. My family were around her bedside at the time of her death. I received a call from my dear auntie at 2.31 am, absolutely heart broken and crying her heart out.

I flew up the motorway that night in my car, and all I remember from wanting to reach the hospital as quickly as I could at one point, I let out an almighty scream. Up to this point I had held everything in, the hope, frustration, and anger at the cancer.

I just could not believe the worst had actually happened.

My auntie was inconsolable, I hugged her for what seemed like an eternity while she sobbed like a baby.

Ten months on, I am still grieving…it’s the little reminders of that night that haunt me. I get flashbacks at unexpected moments. Birds tweeting - in the immediate hours after her death we stood around my mum’s bedside and the hospice window was open, the birds tweeting was all you could hear. As dawn arrived and the sky was lightening up. That sweet tweeting sound, how could such a lovely sound signify misery and absolute sheer devastation?! My mum was in heaven, and it had gained another angel.

I am so sorry mummy, that cancer took you away. I wished there was something I could do to take away all the pain. You helped me and nursed me back to health when I had my own cancer. I just wanted to do the same for you! It’s SO unfair! I really hope you are okay in heaven.

When I listen to old Chinese ballads, they remind me of my ‘’Chineseness’’….my mum loved the Nadia Chan songs, the theme tune to the period dramas we used to watch reminds me of her. The songs my mum loved remind me of her too.

She loved watching TV when she wasn’t working…she loved all the Hong Kong TVB Chinese serials…..My siblings and I grew up watching them. One distinct memory I am always forever grateful to my mother was when I was ten years old. She taught us Cantonese, my sister and I always got writing exercises in Chinese. We each had these little exercise books with grids in them, for writing all the Chinese characters in. Each evening we had to write these new Chinese words. I would not know how to communicate in written Chinese if not for my mum.

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