I used to be fat, now I’m all bones!
Mdm Seah Sor Yuan was born in 1916, in Jinmen, China. She left for Singapore to join her husband and his family. As newly-weds, they spent time managing the family’s provision shop along Beach Road. By the time she turned 25, Mdm Seah had given birth to two young children, a daughter and a newborn son.
On February 15, 1941, Mdm Seah became a widow when her husband was captured and killed by the Japanese, never to come home. He was 29 and her youngest son was barely two. She spent the next few months hoping for his miraculous return, before accepting the fate of his execution. She busied herself at work, shuttling to and from different shops to take care of their businesses between Beach Rd and Tanjong Rhu. “Running here and there”, according to her son, must be the secret to her longevity, other than her fiercely independent, yet generous spirit.
At 101, Mdm Seah is the epitome of immaculate. Her bedsheet is crisp, with the edges ironed at and held down with metal clips. Her wardrobe contains clothes that she sewed herself— all hung neatly, arranged according to occasion and colour.
It is her attention to the little things that endears her to her loved ones. From a family of two children, Mdm Seah has been blessed with five granddaughters, two grandsons and eight great- grandchildren. She remembers all of their names, and even their birthdates.
Mdm Seah is also not one to forget what it means to have loved and lost. She continues to commemorate her husband as an annual ritual, buying flowers and offering prayers at the Cenotaph. It was easier to get owers in the earlier days. “Now it’s harder,” her daughter-in-law sighs matter-of-factly. “People don’t focus on the dead for Valentine’s, but the living.”
Text by Adlina Maolod
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