We all felt it these past few days – the palpable heaviness in the air as we travelled to work, ate our meals, and slowly digested the steady stream of tributes made to Singapore’s founding father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Yet, at the same time, there was warmth in my heart as I realised we were not mourning alone, but together as a nation.
Newspapers carried article after article of Mr Lee’s fruitful 91 years of life, from his childhood and schooling years, to his unparalleled contribution to the building of modern Singapore, to his intelligent opinions and sharp foresight admired and sought by leaders worldwide. However, what struck me the most, was simply his life as a doting husband.
Ever since the demise of his beloved wife Mrs Lee, I have heard time and again about how much he loved and cherished her. I remember being amazed at the discovery of how a firm and no-nonsense politician was actually so tender at heart, especially towards his wife. But not until these past 4 days have I read in such detail and depth about this aspect of his life. As I poured over accounts from his family and friends, I quickly picked up a common thread of respect and admiration not merely for his sharp political mind, but for the obvious love he had had for his wife.
I admired how he respected his wife’s opinions, consulted her on matters big and small, and humbly heeded her advice. I marvelled at how the couple intentionally worked on their marriage (despite his busy schedule), and grew inseparable by going through thick and thin together. I was inspired by the effort he put in to love what his wife loved – classical music – though he had hardly any taste for it himself initially. I was moved by how he carved out time to support his wife through the toughest moments of her illness. And finally, I teared at the poignant regret of how her passing had left such a deep hole in his life, because this clearly showed how much she had meant to him.
Most of all, I wished in my heart that one day, I would be able to experience this for myself. That I may, just like Mrs Lee, be a supportive wife who quietly, but steadily and unconditionally, stands by her husband. That I may find for myself a husband who, just like Mr Lee, truly respects, values and loves his wife.
Thank you Mr Lee, for your utter dedication to the one cause you believed in throughout your life – the success of this small but strong nation of Singapore. But most of all, thank you for the example you set for all of us, that in your fervour and aspirations, you never once compromised on the relationship with the one true love of your life, your beloved and cherished wife.