‘Dear Mom’: Son films tearjerker visual poem to honor immigrant mom on Mother’s Day

When creative director Steven Yee, 32, planned his wedding in 2020, he knew exactly which song he would choose for the mother-son dance. After all, he’d been thinking about it since he was 15 years old.

That song, In My Life by the Beatles, would also serve as inspiration for a Mother’s Day gift that’s been two years in the making — and one year after his actual, postponed wedding.

Dear Mom, a visual poem conceived and directed by Yee, is that gift. And a tearjerker at that.

“I’m the only child to an immigrant family, so it was a big sacrifice for my mother to move to a foreign country she knew nothing about to give me a chance at a better life,” Yee told In The Know by Yahoo via email.

Yee was 2 years old, and his mother 26, when they left Canton, China, with Yee’s father for Boston, Mass.

“A tough decision to leave my family behind”

Yee, in turn, made his own move — to Los Angeles — where he has lived for more than 10 years and launched his own production company, Wood Island Media, that specializes in celebrity-branded content. His wife, Tida Pin, is the company’s production manager.

“It was a really tough decision for me to leave my family behind in Boston to pursue a career in film upon graduating from college, knowing what they sacrificed to bring me here,” he said.

While Yee said that his mother is happy he’s doing well, she still doesn’t know exactly what he does for work. That disconnect also extends to communication.

“Her English isn’t the best, and my Chinese is even worse, so there’s a language barrier between us,” he added. “I wanted to use this project as an opportunity to show her how much she means to me and everything I haven’t been able to express in words over the years.”

Cue the tears

Dear Mom starts at a wedding reception, as the mother-son dance is about to begin. Filmed using actors and a voiceover from friend and spoken-word artist Andres Paul Ramacho at the space where he actually got married, we hear what Yee has wanted to tell his mom since before that moment — complete with simplified Chinese subtitles for when he shows the video to his mom on Mother’s Day.

“To the woman who taught me about ‘Once upon a time’, about that place somewhere over the rainbow, that roses were red and violets were blue, who made magic happen at the ends of Decembers, the beginning of Septembers,” the voiceover begins.

We see a mom not only dancing with her son at his wedding but also, in flashback, teaching him piano, getting him ready for school and then getting his support after the loss of her husband, Yee’s father.

“So, Mom,” the voiceover says, “I miss you. Thank for the ‘once upon a time’, for being at the end of that rainbow, for stopping and letting me smell the roses, for helping me find my voice so that I could have my happily ever after.”

The scene then returns to the mother-son dance.

As for how he thinks his mom will react when she sees his visual poem, Yee said he’s not sure.

“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “Two of my best friends will be picking her up in the morning and taking her to one of their houses nearby and screening it for her.”

While they will be in Boston, Yee will be on Zoom in Los Angeles, watching with her virtually to see her reaction.

“I got subtitles done so she could understand,” he added, “but I’m hoping the entire piece will resonate with her.”

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