My Mom's memorial service

Things have been fairly busy, so I haven’t had time to update my Live Journal more frequently. I’d like to get better about that. In the meantime, I’ll play catchup with the some of the more important things that have happened in the past week or two.

The weekend before last, I traveled out to Chicago to attend my mom’s memorial service. It was held in St. Lawrence Church in Libertyville, IL. We asked a number of friends and family to come up and say a few words about Mother. It was really moving; there was a lot about my mom that I didn’t know until last week, such as the fact that my mom was the first woman to graduate from Hong Kong’s Technical College, where she had studied engineering. I never knew she had been that kind of pioneer….

I was asked to say a few words at the end of the sermon/eulogy time, and this is (as best as I can reconstruct from my note cards), what I said.

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Closing Eulogy for Linda Fung Quan Ts’o,

spoken by Theodore Ts’o on May 19, 2002.

Thank you all for coming.

As I remarked to some friends and family last night, there are a few things which funerals and weddings have in common, in how they bring friends and family together. (So again, both in life and in death, Linda has brought us so many blessings…) But today, instead of celebrating the love between two people, today we are celebrating something just as precious — the life of our friend, our sister, my mother — Linda Ts’o.

You’ve heard many stories about Linda from others who have spoken about her life:

What can I add to all of these loving remembrances? Only a few personal stories.

SHE WAS A DEVOTED MOTHER. I remember her teaching me math when I was a small child, because she wasn’t satisfied with the quality of Public Schools in the U.S. (She didn’t think it was good as the British system which she went through in Hong Kong.) I remember her teaching me the multiplication tables in Chinese, and how it rhymed, so it could be chanted. (In Cantoneese: 3×1=3, 3×2=6, 3×3=9…)

I remember her organizing a Cub Scout Den for my and the other buys in the neighborhood in Long Island.

SHE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT FAMILY HEALTH. I remember her dragging us all to walks; her favorite place was the Chicago Botanical Gardens. I remember her nagging me about my weight; something I’m going to have to do on my own now.

SHE WAS AN ARTIST. I remember her pouring over photographs in the darkroom in Long Island, and teaching me how to remove film from their metal canisters while having your hands in a light-tight bag. Although she no longer did her own developing after switching to color film, she always loved photography, which is something she passed on to me.

SHE WAS AN ENGINEER. I remember Mom with oil in her clothes and grease in her hands, fixing the family car.

SHE WAS A BUSINESS WOMEN. I remember her terrifying car dealers when negotiating prices for the family car. I remember her staying up late taking care of taxes and financial planning for the family.

SHE WAS A GRANDMOTHER. I remember her being so happy when my sister’s son Justin was born. She spent a lot of time helping Sophia during the first few months. When Sophia went back to work, she spent two days a week babysitting Justin during the day — while still holding the fort at Father’s Office.

These were all just a few facets of a wonderfully complex individual. I can’t hope to do her life justice; but it will have to suffice. I really miss her….

I started by talking about how funerals and weddings have a certain amount in common. So as many weddings use a reading (On Marriage) from Kahil Gibram’s book, The Prophet, I thought I would close by quoting another passage from the same book. (Kahil Gibram was a Lebanese Christian who published The Prophet in 1923 — something which I want to acknowledge given the great suffering of Arab Christians in the Middle East today.)

“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

I count myself incredibly blessed that Linda was my mother, and that she could be with us all for this space of time. Our sorrow shows how much we have been blessed, and how much we have to be thankful for.

Thanks be to God.