The "Wu Word" Blog
This past week, I had
to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I knew the consequences of my decision would
have profound long-term affects with my health, my livelihood, and even the
people I love and care about.
For me, the decision-making
process has always been the most challenging, stressful, and anxiety-driven. So painful is the process that I will try to
rush it just to make a damn decision so I do not have to think anymore. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realized
that rushing leads to dire consequences that cannot be undone. I’ve tried to go through the motions of the
decision-making by reaching out to the logical rather than the emotional side
to me. Logical side kicks in with me
making a pro and con list, weighing out the quality rather than the quantity of
the positives and negatives, and taking all the details I’ve given to create
and find the big picture. All along as I
am trying to make my decision, I hear my Dad’s sage advice: “Do not make
long-term decisions on short-term emotions.”
I can now count on
only one hand the number of people I turn to during the decision-making
process. I know these select people have
my best interest as they listen carefully and quietly, assess what I am facing
and what I may endure based on my decision, and even help me with the facts and
to make sure my logical side stays intact.
I surely still do turn to my parents when I am faced with these adult
decisions, but I no longer ask them: “What do you think I should do?” Rather, I present the facts to them and they
respond with concurrence of the facts and add to them only to conclude, “Well, Mary,
you always are going to do what you want to do.
It is your life. You are a grown
adult. You make the decision.” Yet, there is one hefty and strong side that
I can never ignore and discount that gets even louder and bigger when I must
make a decision: My intuition. I rely heavily
on my intuition to balance out with my logical side.
Gosh, do you ever
feel like it was just so easy when we were kids? We had the adults making decisions for
us! I did not have to think! Yet, did these adults and especially parents
know how their decisions would affect MY life or YOUR life? Yes, isn’t that a thought about how the
decisions we sometimes must make for others have such a significant affect? When I reflect more, I do not want anyone
making decisions for my life while I am of sound mind. It is frightening and trapping to have others
constantly make decisions for us when we must grow up into capable adults to
support ourselves. After all, we cannot
rely on our parents forever. As we grow up, they grow old.
It is very difficult
growing up and then growing old. Growing
up, life gets more difficult and so the decisions become more difficult. Decisions also hold a different and much more
intense meaning because we realize the consequences and their impact. Did you ever wish there was a crystal ball or
some kind of screen that could show you if you had made a different decision
how your life would have played out? I
think the scariest thing about decisions is that we will never know if the
decision was definitely right or wrong, but it was the best we could do at the
time and for what the situation called for.
The thing about me,
though, is once I make a decision, I do not look back, regret, or dwell. I make peace with my decision and propel
forward that I made the best decision and did the best I could at the
time. I brace myself for whatever consequences play
out from the decision I made. Sure, I do
wonder about the ‘alternate’ realities that I’ve mentioned before of how my
life would have played out differently if I had made a different decision. Do you ever look back even after you made a
There is no doubt
about it that the decisions we make affect our lives and others. There are consequences to every
decision. There is a fine line of making
and fulfilling a decision and not doing anything to see how everything will
play out. I do believe the consequences
will speak volumes as to if the decision we made was the best as could be at
What was the first
difficult decision you had to make on your own as an ‘adult’ and without
turning to adult to tell you what to do? Have you ever had to make decisions for
others? How have the consequences played
out and affected your life and others with the decisions you made? Was there
ever a decision you made that you wish you could take back? What is the most difficult decision you have
had to make?
Keep smilin’ until we
I remember that it was
always in 2nd homeroom period in high school when the crackle of the
speaker perked up our ears and we immediately stood up with hand over heart,
eyes tilted to the American flag, and we began to recite “The Pledge of the
Allegiance.” Not one person/student
stumbled over the words. Sure, we may
have been tired and grumbled about school work and the teachers, but for that
time that we stood up to salute the American flag and our country and say “The
Pledge of Allegiance”, we were together.
We were united. We were not
told me that “The Pledge of Allegiance” is no longer recited in schools. Teachers out there, I implore if this is true
and, if so, why is it the case that your school no longer has students recite “The
Pledge of Allegiance”? Do you remember
saying the “Pledge of Allegiance” when you were growing up?
I was completely shocked,
and, especially, saddened when someone told me that the “Pledge of Allegiance”
is no longer said in schools. For, I was
and am immensely proud to be ABC-American-Born Chinese. The stories and experiences of China and
Taiwan that my parents experienced are minimally shared and massively scattered. All my father will say is, “I always think of
‘The American Dream’ where you reap the rewards and results from your hard work
and efforts. We are lucky to live in the
United States of America. You would
probably be dead by now if we were still in China. All those things you write about, Mary…you
would probably be imprisoned. In
America, you think anything is possible. In America, you think of freedom.”
I’ve been to mainland
China one time in my life thus far. That
mainland China was the tourist area, and, yet, it was an eye-opening experience
to me how lucky and blessed that I am that I was born in the U.S.A. and how
much my parents sacrificed and had fought for freedom. My parents did EVERYTHING on their own legally
and without the help of family and friends.
They had to and did actually learn brand new languages, customs, cultures,
and way of living and life. All for
Yes, freedom. Freedom is a beautiful thing. Freedom is also a scary thing. There is a balance of freedom—too much
freedom is not good as it teeters on entitlement to “I am free to have anything
and everything I want” and too little freedom is not good as it teeters on suppression
and oppression. Freedom comes with a lot
of responsibility, excitement, fear, and, most of all, prices. Heavy prices, mind you. There are heavy prices and weights of freedom
that has even cost lives.
Lately, I’ve been
contemplating the prices of freedom and if people really are free and realize
their freedom and how lucky they are to have it,
To me, freedom is NOT free. There is a price to
everything and anything. There are
sacrifices we do not see publicly but suffer privately for freedom. We must work hard to reap benefits of what we
earn rather than take free rides or free favors for what we perceive we are
What do you think
entitlement is? Do you think entitlement
is an expectation? What is the price of
freedom? Are you proud of the country
you live in? Do you think anyone is ever
Keep smilin’ until we
My paternal grandmother
is in her 90’s and counting. She has her
good days and bad days that mostly revolve around her mind as muddled as mud or
as clear as day. She has ‘lost’ two of
her children. One she knew about and was
there to bury. The other one is her
youngest son that she does not know about.
I think one of the
worst devastations in life is when a parent loses a child. Sometimes, I will think about this in
reference to my second organ donor as a 4-year-old girl and how her parents ‘lost’
her. ‘Loses’ and ‘Lost’ are used loosely
to try to ward off the truth of buries or death of a child. We
think life should be a certain way that children should be spared suffering and
sadness, that the death of a child supersedes in tragedy over a death of the
old, and that parents naturally die before their children. Life beats to its own beat.
On the eve of my
grandmother’s youngest son’s death, her mind was an odd combination of clear
and muddled with a demand of knowing from all her children about her youngest
son: “He hasn’t called me to wish me a ‘Merry Christmas.’ Where is he?”
The questions and
comments erupted: Do we tell her the truth about his death? What do we say? How do we say it?
I vocalized my
thoughts, “She isn’t stupid. Clearly,
she knows something isn’t right. The
truth is going to come out and when it does, it is going to be bad. Very bad.
It is going to be more of a betrayal pain along with the pain of her
child’s death than solely the pain of her child’s death if she isn’t told the
Someone said, “If I
were in my 90’s and could not attend my child’s funeral, then maybe it is best
for me to not know the truth. I think it
is okay to lie to spare people’s feelings, especially at grandma’s age. If
there isn’t any good to come out of saying something, then why say it? There are good lies that people say all the
time or truths that people do not even say for the greater good of the person
and their feelings.”
I asked out of
curiosity: “What makes a lie good then?
Who decides and determines a lie is good if the person was never told
the truth and lied to from the beginning?”
No one could answer
me. As a child, I was always told that ‘honesty
is the best policy.’ However, as I’m
getting older, I see that the lines between truth and lies and fact and fiction
can be very blurred when it comes to perceptions and preservation of certain
people and of certain relationships with people. As a child, I was a very bad liar. The worst liar, in fact. Everyone could see through me. As relationships among family and outside of
family has formed and grew in my life, I can honestly tell you that I am the
ultimate secret keeper and will tell good lies for the sake of spared feelings,
in the act and treatment of kindness over righteousness, and to preserve a person
and a relationship. I find that most
people want to be told what they want to hear rather than told truth that could
potentially enhance or shatter. It all
depends on the situation and the person AND especially how whatever truth is
As far as the
determination of my grandmother being told the truth about her youngest son’s
death, it will be told to her in the surrounding care, love, support, and gentleness
of all of her children. To be put in
the position and place to present or keep truth holds a great responsibility
and is daunting, challenging, and difficult with no concrete right or wrong or
black and white. ‘Good lies’ are sometimes
what keep our spirits and strength above to go forward and far until the truth
does come out and is spoken and shared.
keeping a secret the same as subtly telling a lie? Is telling a lie to make another feel
good or to try to prevent pain a ‘bad’ thing?
Is not telling the truth or revealing or sharing the same as lying? Is it ever ‘ok’ to lie? Is there, indeed, good to ‘good lies’?
Keep smilin’ until we meet
“Would you want to live
This was the question
that made its way into my mind when I was around 10 or 11-years-old upon
reading the book “Tuck Everlasting.” The
book was about this family who drank certain water and ended up living forever
and staying at their same physical exterior as the clock continued to tick tock. Never growing old. Never aging. Forever fountain of youth. Not a wrinkle. Not a silver strand to pluck. Never dying.
That question caused ‘death’
to seep into my brain. Not in a morbid
way, mind you, but in a very curious way.
How could it be that we would be living, breathing, doing, and moving
one day and then no longer here another day? What exactly was death? What happens when we die? Would you want to know when you will die, or
when the people you love will die?
The question of “Would
I want to live forever?” and the asks and thoughts I had about life and death increased
significantly when my first kidney transplant was failing and I waited for my
second kidney transplant. The
understanding that someone’s death and decision to give a precious piece of
their living and pumping kidney organ to be placed into my body was astounding
to me. Full of every emotion a human
could ever experience. A death. A life. A miracle in the making. A gift of
life that I treasure every single day that I am still alive above ground.
My understanding of
death has changed significantly from that prepubescent girl during those days of
“Tuck Everlasting” and waiting for my second kidney transplant. As we grow older, we end up attending more
funerals than birthdays. As we age, death
holds a very different meaning and significance that makes us reflect on the
mortality of ourselves and those we love.
Death does not discriminate.
Death can happen any time. It can
be a long suffering and road. It can be
sudden and shocking, shaking and rattling us.
There are sudden and unexpected death where loved ones did not have to
see suffering, yet also did not have the chance to say “Good-Bye” and “I Love
Yous” versus exposure to a long and suffering death where loved ones do get the
chance to say “Good-Bye” and “I Love You”—which is better? I have experienced both and all I can say is
that the greatness of suffering is it illicit and draws out the deepest
compassion and kindness that lies in the core of us.
2016 ended with the
suffering and sudden death of a dear family member and 2017 has already kicked
off with the shocking death of a friend.
We have all experienced death of loved ones and exposed to sudden deaths
and suffering deaths. We have all been
told: “Life is short. Live it like it is
your last day.” We have all questioned
what death exactly is and, I honestly think the majority of people fear death
as this is the great unknown that each of us must encounter and endure alone. For me, I know if I were to die tomorrow, I
would be happy with how I have lived my life.
Maybe these are the greatest meanings of death and the end—to make your
own beginnings in the limited time we are here on earth, say and show people
you love them, enjoy the gift of aging to gain great wisdom and insight, and
embrace and live life for EVERY life is extremely precious, and that just
because someone is not physically here with us does not mean they are any less
not here in our hearts and spirits that we hold so dear to us. Would you be happy with how you have lived
your life if you died tomorrow? What do
you think is the meaning of death?
How did you find out
about death? How old were you when you
learned about death? Have you ever
thought about what this world would have been like if you had never been born
or existed and is this same as death? Would
you want to live forever?
Keep smilin’ until we meet