Mom in backyard of Floral Park House, Queens, New York, circa 1958
Dad & Mom lived in this house opposite an elementary school at the corner
of 258th Street & 85th Avenue in Floral Park, Queens, from 1956 to 1977.
Dad commuted by bus and subway to the United Nations where he was an
Adviser in Security Council Affairs. Mom carried a lively correspondence
with dozens of friends and relatives in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
Like Dad, Mom loves to read, her favorites being literary biographies
and essays. She edited a volume of her uncle's writings on the I Ching,
and donated copies to major U.S. Libraries. Mom is a great cook and hostess,
having dinner parties for over 20 guests often. Many of the young Chinese
students who were children of Dad's friends stayed over our corner house
when my brother and I were away in college and graduate school. Mom was a
successful matchmaker, getting four couples married. Chinese folk legends
say people add a decade to their lives if they are successful in each
matchmaking. Mom is now 94 and still appear youthful in spirit.
Those couples still remember Mom fondly, calling her "Chou Ma Ma",
sending her cards and phoning her on Mother's Day. One even wrote
an article about Mom that was published in a Chinese newspaper,
extolling Mom's generous hospitality and kindness, opening our home in
Floral Park as "a home away from home" when they arrived in America.
When Mom was 92, she surprised me by reciting from memory her high school essay "Knowledge is Power". She had told me earlier that she had graduated valedictorian from Hupei Normal School. As a result of this essay, she was offered teaching positions at five elementary schools. Taking off on Francis Bacon's essay, Mom said that "we first receive knowledge from our parents at home on ethics, to be a good citizen in society. Then we receive knowlege from our teachers in school on arts & science, to learn about the world around us. Finally, we give back what we have learned to future generations, teaching them the knowledge of goodness and wisdom. Thus knowledge empowers us, and this is the power of knowledge." I knew Dad had a wonderful memory, but when Mom rekindled her memory bank of 74 years earlier with her beautiful essay on knowledge, I was speechless and gave her a big hug. Happy Birthday Mom on your 94th Birthday! (PYC 11-10-2002)
|Dad and Mom in Palo Alto, California, 1997|
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