Nancy Young’s story of Mary Feyuan

June 2, 1937 – Oct 9, 2017

Yesterday, three generations of our family burned incense and paper money to celebrate our Mom, Sister, Aunt and Grandma’s life, and help her on the journey to her next life. This is her story…

My mother, Mary Feyuan Lee Young was born in Guanmiao, a small village outside of Tainan, Taiwan, to a family of five brothers and three sisters. She was the youngest sister.  Her father was Headmaster of the top boys school in Tainan and her mother was one quarter Dutch.

When she married my father, Peter Teyuan Young, she was 19.  My father won a scholarship to get his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley.  In 1965, she and us four children immigrated to Pasadena, California, to join our father who had a job with the State of California.  A few years later, they got US citizenship, and over the next several years, sponsored the immigration of her mother, father, four brothers, two sisters and their children.

Mom loved to cook dinner for the whole family at our home in Pasadena, or go out on Friday nights for dinner and a movie in Chinatown, or host card games with the uncles and aunts.  She loved going back to Taiwan every year to visit friends and family.

In 1974, my father took a job in the Middle East with his company. The family spent a summer in Saudi Arabia and travelled through Europe, and made plans to live there, but unfortunately by fall, Father left for Saudi and the family stayed in California.

Mom’s life was never dull.  She was a fiery and highly capable woman, who was never afraid to speak her mind, or make her demands known to others to listen to her instructions.  She was very intelligent, mastering Mandarin and English to a level of proficiency not expected of someone who only attended school to the 6th grade.  She read the Taiwanese newspaper every day to improve her skills and keep up with current affairs in Taiwan.

When she became an unmarried woman, she immediately found work to support herself and even help her children when she could, and was always there for her five grandchildren.  She eventually found a second life back in Taiwan, working as a personal assistant for a successful developer and school owner, Mr. Wu, who had been a former colleague of her husband.  Mary returned to Alhambra permanently in 2008 at his passing.

In the sunset years of her life, she developed dementia, a mental disorder that unfortunately alienated her from many of the family members.  Our sister Jean, moved into the condo with Mom two years ago to look after her, and last year Mom took her final trip back to Taiwan with our other sister Susan.  Almost exactly one year later, Mom passed away from sudden heart failure at her breakfast table.

Our family grieves the loss of our mother, sister, aunt and grandmother, and remember her as fiery as a dragon and strong as an ox, but also a mother and grandmother who loved and protected her family as fiercely as a lioness. She is forever in our hearts.

Posted in 1930's, Asia

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