International film star Jackie Chan bowed his head and wept as mourners at his mother’s funeral service were told stories about his childhood. His mother, Lee-Lee Chan passed away on February 28th.
Delivering the eulogy, former chief minister and long-time friend of the family Kate Carnell said that Lee Lee Chan used to take a bucket of hot water from her Hong Kong home at the peak and carry it across the harbor on a ferry to Jackie’s boarding school so that he could take a warm bath.
During the service, Jackie Chan buried his head in his hands and wiped away the tears for the mother who he called “the greatest”.
Jackie, his wife Joanne, his father Charlie Chan, ACT businessman Jim Murphy and ACT Opposition Leader Gary Humphries were among about 140 mourners at the Buddhist service for Lee Lee, 87, who died after a long illness.
The service at the Abbey Reception Centre in Gungahlin, Australia was held in both Chinese and English.
There was a large security presence with uniformed and plain-clothed guards inside and outside the building keeping international and local media at a distance from Jackie and ensuring only invited guests attended the service.
Jackie and his wife arrived in Canberra at 1:00 am yesterday after driving from Sydney. He had flown in from Thailand where he had been filming a movie called The Medallion (2003).
After his arrival in Canberra, Jackie spent until 5:30 am with relatives at an altar devoted to his mother in the customary Chinese tradition.
About 15 minutes before yesterday’s funeral service Jackie spoke to reporters, saying no-one else could know the feelings that he had for his mother who he had fond memories of and who he said was the greatest.
Mrs. Carnell told the service Lee Lee was born in China in 1916, raising two daughters, Yulan and Guilan, on her own until the 1940s when she met Charlie in Shanghai.
The two married in Hong Kong in the early 1950s and worked at foreign consulates, with their son, Jackie, born in 1954.
Jackie was sent to the Chinese Opera School in Hong Kong while his parents saved for his future.
In 1962 the American consul they worked for was posted to Australia with Lee Lee and Charlie leaving Hong Kong in order to keep their jobs and provide for their son while at school.
During the 10 years that they were separated from their son, Lee Lee pinned pictures of Jackie to the bedroom walls and kissed them every day.
After his schooling in Hong Kong, Jackie joined his parents in Canberra going to Dickson College briefly and working on building sites in the ACT.
Even after he found international fame Jackie would return several times a year to his parents’ house in Lyneham to visit.
Lee Lee continued to work at the American embassy for many years and would keep the expensive gifts given to her from Jackie to give to her grandchildren.
Ms. Carnell told the service she was not surprised that Jackie always said that his mother was the greatest in the entire world.
“We are proud that Charlie and Lee Lee chose Canberra for their home,” she said.
After the service, Jackie held a giant picture of his mother in his lap as he sat in the passenger seat of the station wagon – his mother’s casket in the back – on the way to the Gungahlin Cemetery.
His wife, father and family members, including his two sisters, followed in a white limousine while two buses transported other guests.
Security guards again surrounded the burial site to ensure that those not invited did not get too close.
Jackie was among the last to leave his mother’s grave standing with his head bowed, alone at the site as family and friends talked nearby.
He continued to watch as cemetery workers filled in the grave with dirt before leaving for a lunch reception at the Ruby Chinese Restaurant in Dickson.
Friend for more than 20 years and manager Willie Chan said that Jackie had been hit hard by his mother’s death as they had been extremely close.
Willie said although Lee Lee had been sick for about seven years Jackie was still in shock over losing her.
He said Jackie would leave Canberra today to fly to Bangkok but was hoping that his father Charlie would travel more with him now that he was on his own.
Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.