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怀念母亲

 
For those who don’t know, I’m Shan Chan’s son, Y Chan.
 

On behalf of the family, I’d like to start by thanking you all for being here. Some of you came from great distances from around the country and even outside of it with very short notice. I know my mom would have understood if you couldn’t make it, yet delighted that you did.
My mom was always a simple person who didn’t ask for much and largely enjoyed her privacy.
Most of you were probably surprised to learn that she was battling cancer for the last 19 months. This may even be the first time that you’re hearing that. The reason is she didn’t want to inconvenience anybody and often said that she wanted you all to remember her as she lived.
So, to respect what I believe to be her will, I’d like to turn toward some happy memories.
Mom, it seemed, learned quickly and I think it’s because she was so curious and excited about everything in the way that children are, sorta like “This is so coooool!”.
● She learned AutoCAD so she could draw design plans for the engineers.
● She learned bookkeeping so she could help with managing finances and accounting at my dad’s company.
● She learned Cantonese so she could speak with my dad’s family.
If you knew my mom, or even just met her briefly, you know she did everything for everybody else. You were always welcome in her home and she found the best in each of us.
If you knew mom, you knew she was eternally patient. Most people who play with my daughter, Callia, do so for short bursts, maybe up to 30 minutes playing with her, as is expected, like an adult plays with a kid.
Mom and Callia would be in our basement having tea parties, building forts, squeezing into her tiny tent, or playing outside with the only goal being to make sure Callia had a ton of fun and was spoiled rotten. Mom & Callia played the way 2 buddies play and, as Alex has reminded me, that’s how she used to played with us.
Mom was also forever gentle with Callia. Once, when I raised my voice to discipline Callia, my mom reminded me, about my wife, “Betty is sweet and kind because her father never lost his temper with her.” and I can only hope that I will remember to share that patience and gentleness.
When Alex and I were growing up-- when she wasn’t working, cleaning, or cooking--mom would sometimes play video games with us and she was awesome. If Alex and I couldn’t beat some high score on the Atari 2600, we’d ask her to give it a try. She was always reluctant but sometimes she’d pick up the sticks, ask how to play, crush the game, drop the controller, then roll out like a boss. We almost never got her to play the same game more than twice and, as playful as she was, I like to imagine that she’d go upstairs and giggle about her skills or incredible beginner’s luck.
She took care of us like a mom does and went the extra step of giving us the one thing we didn’t have: a fun, big sister.
Mom was a great listener and her words were carefully measured so, when we were about 8-years old, I was surprised that she became friends with somebody who seemed to talk all the time, said whatever was on her mind, and-- quite frankly-- was LOUD. It seemed she couldn’t have been more different from my mom and her high energy tired me out. So, I asked my mom how it was that they could be friends. She simply said, “Not everybody can be the same as you and you need people in your life that can make you laugh and will say what they think. You can trust friends like that because you always know what’s on their mind.”.
In 10th grade, I came home with pink hair and 4 earrings. Shortly after, we had one of those Chinese family parties at our house and another parent asked my mom what she thought about my look. Not knowing I could hear the conversation, she quickly replied,“Well, he doesn’t do drugs, has great friends, and gets good grades-- I could be worried about more, plus… I think it looks cool.”.
Mom always had our backs.
As a teenager, I’d learned that a close family friend, who was a role model for me, was gay-- Now, remember, this was the mid-’90s.
Being a teenager, I was confused about it so I asked my mom, not realizing that she may have thought I was coming out “Mom, how would you feel if you learned I was gay?”. She paused and said “I’d be heartbroken.” then said “I’d be heartbroken because of how the world would treat you… You’re my son and I will always love you no matter what.”.
When my mom came to help my brother move to New York, I brought her up to my rooftop in Williamsburg and the 2 of us talked while looking over the City skyline. I was so excited to tell her “Mom, I’ve fallen in love with somebody wonderful and you know her.”. I told her, “I’m in love with Betty Chu!”.
Mom has always had nothing but the highest opinion of Babamama Chu, Howie, and their princess, Betty, so I expected her to be excited, too, but she just asked “Does she know?” and I replied, “Yeah! I called her and told I want her to move here, I want to marry her, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”. She calmly and sweetly explained, “Y, words are easy. Someone like Betty gets words all the time. If you want her to KNOW, you have to DO something. If I flew to NY from California a man would have to give me more than a phone call. If you want her to KNOW, you need ACTION. You have to SHOW her.”. I asked, “So, should I go see her?” and she replied, “Yeah, I think so”. So, I ran down to my computer and booked a flight to California. So, yes, my mom was a catalyst for Betty and me getting together but also reminded me that real value is in what you do not just what you say.
Now, on the flip-side, one of the last things my mom told us was that words are like a knife. Sometimes, words can cut and the wounds may heal but words can also leave a cut so deep that they will leave a scar, and never be forgotten. She cautioned us to watch our words and that in all that we do we must always think of others.
These last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on those words:
In all that we do, we must always think of others.
That’s how my mom lived her life, and in that way I feel she will always be with us. Whenever her kindness is passed forward, her thoughtfulness shared, and that childlike curiosity and laughter are expressed, she is there.
These last few days, I’ve had numerous phone calls, emails, and text messages from people sharing their memories. Some of these were just little details about her tiny feet, signature spiral perm, faux fur jackets, and wild style, or just a vague memory of her giant unrestrained smile. All of these, however small they may have seemed, have helped me learn more about my mom, to celebrate her life.
At this time, we’d like to welcome anybody to share a memory of her, even if it’s just a few words. You can share the memory from your seat or come up to the podium.
Thank you all, from the family, for your time, kind words, and support. Thank you for sharing your lives with mom. I know she loved and cared for you all.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 

 

 

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