Shuffled Between Relatives During Childhood, Sharon Au Reconciled With Mum After Nearly Dying
"I regretted not reaching an understanding with her."
Growing up, most of us take it for granted that we’ll stay in the same household as our parents.
However, former celebrity Sharon Au only started living with her mother when she turned 17, and it was only because she had no other choice.
She told her mother to offer her a proper home so she could continue studying and not compromise her future, and though they lived under the same roof, their relationship was nearly non-existent.
It was years later, after Sharon almost died on a flight that she decided to reconcile with her mother.
When she was a child, Sharon was shuffled between relatives each year as her parents were divorced. Her father had another family and would visit her once a month to take her out for fast food. Her mother didn’t visit her at all despite having legal custody, 45-year-old Sharon shared on the meWATCH talk show Hear U Out.
To ensure that she would have somewhere to stay, she took it upon her to become “the most well-behaved kid” who “washed the dishes for everyone” and did other household chores.
“I tried to be someone they couldn’t do without so that I could extend my stay,” she told local host Quan Yi Fong.
She clung on to the hope that her parents would visit her more, especially her mother, and would ask her relatives every day if they called for her. Eventually, she “got tired of asking” because her parents “never did and never would”.
“The only time I saw them was when I had an asthma attack… I was so happy when it finally happened because my mum came to see me,” Sharon recounted, adding that her mother just looked in on her before leaving soon after.
As she missed her mother so much, Sharon even tried to induce an asthma attack by drinking alcohol — she didn’t know it wouldn’t work.
However, when Sharon turned 17 and was accepted into Hwa Chong Junior College, she had no choice but to turn to her mum. Their relatives could no longer afford to take care of her, and Sharon didn’t qualify for hostel living either. In short, she was homeless.
Sharon said: “I phoned everyone I could to try and find my mum. I had to find her. And I remember being rather rude to her when I finally found her. I addressed her as ‘Irene’, not ‘Mum’. I didn’t think she deserved to be called ‘Mum’.
“I said, ‘Irene, this won’t do. It’s an incredible feat that I got into Hwa Chong. I can’t possibly stay out all night for 24 hours and study until school starts the next day. I can’t do that. This is my future. Give me somewhere to stay. This is your responsibility.'”
Fortunately, her mother had just ended her second marriage and had a house in Hougang, which Sharon moved into. But their relationship remained frosty because of all their history, and Sharon would avoid her mother as much as possible in the house — they wouldn’t even eat at the same time.
This routine continued until after Sharon graduated and joined Singapore Airlines as a cabin crew.
It was then during one particularly harrowing flight back from Hong Kong where there was severe turbulence that Sharon had an epiphany.
She said: “Under those circumstances, in which I thought I was going to die, I regretted not reaching an understanding with her. I even regretted not asking her why she did what she did, like why was she such a terrible mum… and [not] telling her that I forgave her because I was actually okay with it.
“I just prayed that the plane wouldn’t crash and I gave my word that if the plane landed safely, I would reconcile with my mum the moment I got off the plane.”
Sharon stopped calling her mother by her given name and addressed her as “Mum” for the first time when she arrived home after the flight.
She admitted: “But I didn’t make it dramatic… I just said ‘Mum, I’m back’. I did it quickly. I didn’t want to highlight it. And I just went in without looking at her. I don’t even know if she heard me then and I have no idea how she reacted. Anyway, from then on, I started calling her ‘Mum’.”
Both mother and daughter have since repaired their relationship after they had a heart-to-heart talk when Sharon was 20. Her mother explained that it was tough for her to make money and support a child when she was in her 20s and uneducated, which was why she placed Sharon in the care of her relatives.
“She had her share of troubles too. I could see her regret in an instant,” Sharon said, as she explained how she was eventually able to forgive her mother and enjoy a better relationship with her now.
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This article was first published in AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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