Learning > Inspiration

Grandma Mary does what she loves

Benson Ang on 27 May 2018

The Sunday Times


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With her electrifying stage presence, this grandma has rocked the electric guitar as recently as last Sunday, when she performed the Carlos Santana song Samba Pa Ti at the Community Chest Charity TV Show to loud applause.



Popularly known as Grandma Mary, Madam Mary Ho went on reality talent show iDream Of China earlier this month and sang the Chinese evergreen number, The Moon Represents My Heart.


Despite growing up speaking English and Cantonese at home, she picked up Mandarin to prepare for her performances in China.


Last Friday, Grandma Mary celebrated her 82nd birthday with family and friends.


In between her many lunch appointments, mahjong and jamming sessions, she tells The Sunday Times: "I am so busy, but I love it. I am just myself and the youth in me has never left."


Her secret to staying young?


"I have no secret. I am just myself. I go out a lot and meet many friends, but this is just what I like to do."


She started playing the acoustic guitar at 60, after buying a book on how to play.


Despite having no musical background and many finger blisters along the way, she persevered to master the instrument on her own, without a teacher.


She says: "I've wanted to learn how to play the guitar since my teenage years, but it was not possible then because my mother felt playing guitar was for boys.


"In my 60s, I finally had the opportunity to pursue my passion and play."


Around the age of 65, she proceeded to learn the electric guitar and has never looked back.


The fun-loving grandmother of seven has two daughters, one of whom, Mrs Jennifer Yeo, is married to former foreign minister George Yeo.


Last year, she was the oldest performer at the National Day Parade and a crowd favourite.


In a Facebook post last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "Mary is an inspiration. Her example shows that learning is lifelong. We should never be afraid to try new things in life."


Grandma Mary looks up to guitar legends such as BB King and Santana. She met the latter in 2008 when he performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.


Apart from the guitar, she also dances and plays the electone, drums and harmonica.


With such varied interests, it is no surprise that she has no fixed sleeping schedule.


She says: "I just sleep whenever I want to. Sometimes, I only go to bed at 4am or 6am because I have been practising the guitar throughout the night.


"At night, it is quiet and there are no distractions. My friends say I am like an owl."


Although she has high blood pressure and diabetes, she keeps them under control with medication.


She says: "At my age, I want to live life with no regrets. So I just do what I love."


Source: The Sunday Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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