Love beyond measure

Love beyond measure

Caption: A mother’s love knows no end

“If it had not been for TOUCH, I do not know how he will be like today. I trust the life coaches. They are always so patient and will involve me when there are activities for caregivers. I do not feel so alone now." 

Mdm Tan Hum Seow is a fiercely protective mother who gets upset when people stare at her son and say unpleasant things about him. Her son Mr Cheng Chiang Yong, 54, has intellectual disability, and is partially blind in his right eye and completely blind in his left eye. The 77-year-old caregiver, who has two other children, is also a caregiver to her older son. Her husband is a retiree in his 80s.

As a doting mother, Mdm Tan has been faithfully attending to her son’s needs. She constantly worries about his future. “My son is mine and I will always love him no matter what. I am already so old and I only hope for peaceful days ahead,” says Mdm Tan, who tries to have a positive outlook of life.

Achieving milestones
Things improved when Chiang Yong joined TOUCH Centre for Independent Living in 1990 followed by TOUCH Ubi Hostel (TUH) in 2006. He was taught independent living skills and discovered his artistic talents. With encouragement from TOUCH staff, Chiang Yong gained confidence and managed to earn an income as a packer and through his art works under JOURNEY, a brand under TOUCH that showcases the artistic talents of people with intellectual disabilities.

⁠The TUH team has been journeying alongside Mdm Tan to ease her worries and to show her Chiang Yong’s artistic accomplishments. She would sometimes join the caregivers support group to receive additional encouragement and to bond with other caregivers.

Chiang Yong's artistic works
Caption: Trainees with intellectual disabilities are given the opportunity to hone their artistic talents and be part of JOURNEY

Mdm Tan and son doing activity
Caption: Chiang Yong (left) and Mdm Tan (right) doing a craft activity together at TUH

CY JOURNEY gift
Caption: JOURNEY merchandise from the “Sea my world” collection showcasing a collage of designs from trainees including Chiang Yong

“I feel so encouraged to see my son becoming financially independent. He can now pay for his own expenses. When I see his paintings, I cannot imagine it is my son’s work. He can paint so well!

“If it had not been for TOUCH, I do not know how he will be like today. I trust the life coaches. They are always so patient and will involve me when there are activities for caregivers. I do not feel so alone now,” Mdm Tan adds.

Chiang Yong has shown remarkable progress over the years. He has learnt to be kind towards his mother and be helpful at home. When she is not feeling well, he will ask if she is doing fine. He will also alert neighbours to bring in their laundry when it is about to rain.

CY and Mom HB_website

Caption: Chia Yong blessing his mother with a Hong Bao during every Chinese New Year

Mdm Tan and Cheng Yong community event_lowres
Caption: Mdm Tan (right) attending an art event with Chiang Yong (left) during the pandemic

Remaining resilient together
Mdm Tan hopes to encourage other caregivers to persevere and to find the support they need. They should also learn to take good care of themselves. She enjoys spending time with other trainees and caregivers, and looks forward to the overseas trips organised by TUH.

Mdm Tan is also currently receiving help from TOUCH's social worker regarding his Long-Term Care Plans. “Caregivers should be patient with their children if they are slow learners. They must come to a place like TOUCH Ubi Hostel instead of staying at home. If you can’t teach them, let others do it,” says Mdm Tan, adding that she is glad to be part of the caregivers' support network at TOUCH.

“I will take things one step at a time. I am relieved to know that my son can be at TUH until he can no longer stay there. As caregivers, we can make the most of what we have and choose to be happy. Life is short,” says Mdm Tan.

Story published in 2024