“My one son.” That’s how she always referred to me. Her one son. I can still remember her calling me that as I stand here today. My mother was an amazing person; one who always led by example, and by doing so, taught us so much. She was organised, strategic and solution oriented. She always planned ahead, always ensured that everything was in place. She showed us how to be skilled negotiators, teaching us the value of money, and always instructing us to always fight for a fair deal. And in those rare moments when she didn’t get the best bargain, she always learnt from the experience and went into the next negotiation more prepared. Those are the traits that helped me through school and have guided me through my work experience over the years. Those are the characteristics that I have adopted and that have contributed to my development.

As a mother, she loved us fiercely and was consistent in that love. It was that consistency that brought stability to our lives. But as fiercely as she loved us, she always pushed us to be independent and to strive for our own individual excellence. She wanted us to become our own people, to know right from wrong and to treat others with respect. Those same teachings are what I, as the man that my mother has helped me to become, will teach my son. My mother never gave up on me – there were times when she could have, perhaps when she should have – but she never did. And her support gave me the drive and the strength to keep moving to try to better myself every day in order to make her proud.

I remember one time when I had been working so hard and was so focused on the future that I stopped to ask my mother whether it was possible to be too ambitious; whether I was striving to do too much too soon. My mother’s reply: “Stop chat foolishness! Being ambitious is a good thing. The world needs more ambitious people.” And so, I continued to strive to be the best that I could be. I will miss sitting down at the kitchen table with her and making her laugh with my dry jokes. Doing so always brought joy to my day and my life. I will miss hearing her tell me how proud she was of me, and she always did. Her one son.

The man that I am today, personally and professionally, is a true testament to all that I learnt from her. It’s so hard for me to even think of continuing each day without her here. But I know that even though she is no longer with me in the physical form, she will always be here for me in spirit and in my heart. Thank you, mom, for never giving up on me. I will miss you and love you always.