Raising five young children is no easy feat for any family. It was especially challenging for Assisi Hospice’s patient, 72-year-old Mdm Lee Yok Sim, who was a single mother. In 1977, a fatal traffic accident took the life of her husband, who was a technician and the sole breadwinner of their family. She had to raise and care for 5 young children aged 6 months to 12 years old single-handedly. Her eldest son passed away due to an illness in the same year, adding to her heartache.Despite her grief, she bravely soldiered on for the sake of her family. Barely after a week she was widowed, she started working as a construction worker, earning $200 a month to put food on the table. Motivated to provide a better life for her family, she approached Dr Tony Tan, who was then a Member of Parliament for Sembawang Group Representation Constituency, for assistance to secure a hawker stall when she heard that a hawker centre would be built near their home in Woodlands. To ensure that she served the best tasting food to her customers, she made special effort to travel to Malaysia to learn wanton making from a relative.
For the next 32 years, Mdm Lee spent long hours toiling at her wanton mee stall, bringing home the bacon to support her children. Though she could not afford to spend much time with them, they understood their mother’s love for them. She finally retired in 2013, when all her children had grown up and started their own families.
In 2017, she was diagnosed with liver cancer and was admitted into Assisi Hospice in end 2018. By then, she had 10 grandchildren and had even welcomed her first grandson-in-law. For her life-time labour of love, she was surrounded by love in these final moments of her life. Her room in the hospice was always filled with family and friends who were visiting her.
However, she had an unfulfilled wish. She wanted to meet Dr Tony Tan together with her family, to thank him personally for lending her a helping hand at the darkest moment in her life. She said, “…to thank Tan Keng Yam for helping me to get a stall. Without getting the stall, there is no today.”Through the arrangements of the Assisi Hospice care team, Dr Tony Tan and Mrs Mary Tan visited Mdm Lee in Assisi Hospice. She was all smiles as she finally had the chance to convey her gratitude to someone who made a deep and lasting impact on her life. Mdm Lee passed away peacefully on 30 October 2018, surrounded by her loved ones.
Her youngest son, Mr Alan Yap said, “What I admire most about my mum is her character. She is very hardworking, determined and would never bow to fate. The most valuable thing she taught all of us is to be kind and nice to others. I still remember her giving to the poor and even providing free meals for them at her stall. She always told us that being able to bless someone is a greater blessing than receiving.”
This Mother’s Day, honour a courageous mother like Mdm Lee who has given her all to her family and require care at the final stage in her life by giving regularly through our “Add Life to Days“. When you pledge to give regularly before 21 June, you will also stand a chance to win an OSIM massage chair for your mother! At Assisi Hospice, we provide palliative care for patients that preserves their dignity and quality of life. Patients of any race, faith and financial position are cared for by our team of specialist doctors, nurses, allied health and pastoral care professionals. 51% of our patients are poorest of the poor and means tested to the lowest income level. Your donation will enable us to continue to provide care and comfort to them.