Patchwork and patience

Category: Society Family

Patchwork and patience

Posted by Monica Chia on 26-Jul-2021 10:11:00
Monica Chia

As the Chinese proverb goes, “家有一老,如有一宝”, meaning, it's like having a treasure when you have an elderly at home.

Learning and acquiring wisdom do not only happen in school.  Compassion, resilience, selflessness are learnt from examples and role models.  If we take time to observe the people around us, the elderly among us can teach us many things in life where the structures of a school setting will not teach.

Five students from the School of Business, Temasek Polytechnic, came together to share about connecting with their "treasure".

This is part 4 of 5 on what these teenagers learnt from their grandparents.

Patchwork and patience (contributed by Amanda Koh)

When I was a child, my grandmother, ah-mah babysat me when my parents were at work. I spent the majority of my school holidays at her place and picked up many skills from her, with one becoming my favorite past time with her: sewing.

Ah-mah was a seamstress in her early 30s and it was one of the many jobs she took up to provide for the family. She owns an antique sewing machine which I often fiddled with as a child because of how intriguing and different it looked from the modern automated sewing machines. Ah-mah often let me rest my foot on hers while she stepped on the foot pedal to sew with the antique machine. This honed my interest in sewing and I got ah-mah to teach me sewing techniques when I was nine years old.

Read Part 1: More than a Love Letter

I frequented fabric stores with her and learnt to operate her sewing machine. Our first creation was rice-filled five stones – a traditional children's game in the kampong days. Ah-mah taught me how to sew the seemingly complicated pyramid shape and encouraged me to make some myself. Out of the many things we have sewn together, the first five stones we made hold a special place in my heart.

Even though she has retired for more than 30 years now, and as an elderly, she still enjoys doing patchwork on clothing and sewing quilts with scrap fabrics for me and my cousins. 

Other than sewing techniques, ah-mah also taught me patience and resilience. Threads may get knotted while sewing and a product may turn out differently from how you first envisioned it. I will then have to keep trying and start again from the top.

Read other parts from this series:
Part 1: More than a Love Letter
Part 2: A selfless caregiver and role-model
Part 3: Showing compassion in our daily actions
Part 5: Spending time, connecting ties

Five students from the School of Business, Temasek Polytechnic

Student contributors from Temasek Polytechnic, School of Business

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of St. John's Home for Elderly Persons.
St John's Home for Elderly Persons is not a government-subvented Home and depend largely on the public's generosity to enable us to continue our work as a Registered Charity.
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Topics: Society, Family