The "Wu Word" Blog
In the spring of
2013, I was recovering from my total hip replacement surgery that had been
delayed for at least ten years of my life.
People thought that since I was young at only 30-years-old that I would
bounce back faster than a rubber band as I had always been resilient. I thought the same. But, as you get older, it gets harder. Mind you, I was 30-years-old chronologically,
but not physically. Age is just a number. It is all about what has happened in all the
ages and stages of your life. What we
often think is not what plays out in reality.
The recovery was
hard. And painful. I was learning how to walk all over again
after the mechanics of my body failed me and compensated, resulting in walking
wrong for about 30 years of my life.
I cried a lot. I was furious at my body that I felt had
betrayed me since I was a tiny tyke. I
was mentally exhausted of wondering and waiting when I would get better. Would I ever get better? Would I ever embrace and feel comfortable
with and in my ‘new normal’? I never
thought I would get better. Have you been in those situations where you never
thought you would ever get better?
This recovery time
brought me back to when I was a little girl and learned my very first life
lesson: “Life is not Fair.” You do not
always get what you want. You do not always have a choice. There are no shortcuts, and you are often
forced to go through what never seems like will work out or get better. You may
give your all and tried what your best, and it still is not good enough only to
learn and live that it was not meant to be and acceptance (not defeat) of
this. Life never goes according to the
plans and the deadlines that you made that you formed in your head.
recovery, the person that was there as he had always been there was my
father. My father helped me with
everyday tasks that we take for granted: cooking, cleaning, getting dressed,
bathing, bending, and even just going to the bathroom. Unlike others that may have lapped in all the
service and assistance, I disliked it. I
never liked feelings of dependence, weakness, and helplessness. However, these very feelings that I loathe
have always been my motivators of determination, perseverance, and persistence.
One of the most
challenging tasks with the recovery was getting in a car and driving again. My mind has
always sped ahead as ‘limitless’ to my limited body. My father insisted that he would drive me time and time again,
but I had lost my patience at depending on others and spouted stubbornly, “If I
need help, I’ll ask. But, let me do it
on my own. Let me fall so I can get back
My father backed
off. I think one of the most difficult
jobs in the entire world is being a parent and somehow knowing and seeing that
your children will suffer, experience pain, make mistakes, and learn only from pain and suffering one of the
harshest realities about life that ‘life is not fair.’ I think a great parent will actually let
their children fall and fail and see how their children will go through the
motions/progress, learn, and come up and out better with solutions and options
rather than be their problems and a victim to their problems. Protecting, sheltering, and doing for others
is actually not helping, but is actually crippling and trying to control others
and situations that really cannot be controlled. Sometimes, you have to go through all the
worst to come out and bring out your best.
Failure, falling, and
even suffering are all vital ingredients to life. When did you come to realize that life is
unfair? When did you fall to get back
up again to be and come up with solutions and options rather than be your
problems? When was your biggest and
greatest ‘fall’ to only stand up taller again?
Keep smilin’ until we meet
“So, you’re Mary Wu!” She exclaimed
I froze at this woman
I did not even know with flowing white hair and her piercing blue eyes revealed
when she put down her camera. She had
the warmest smile that outshone the California sunshine. It was
the winter of 2011 and on the cusp of the new 2012 year that I was basking in
the warmth and glow of the sun in Pasadena, California as a float rider for the
2012 Donate Life float featured as one of the many floats at the infamous Rose
Bowl Parade. The number of cameras and
flashes made me feel like a starstruck, yet humbled, celebrity. This woman was one of the many who was armed
with a camera to try to capture every moment through a lens.
This woman went on to
explain that she was a donor grandmother.
Her 14-year-old granddaughter had proclaimed after watching a news story
that she (the granddaughter) would naturally become an organ donor at the time
of her death. Her granddaughter’s wishes
were carried out with the granddaughter’s kidneys and tissue that saved the
lives of many. The grandmother went on to say that she couldn’t
believe when she read my biography that I lived only 5 minutes away from her
son and his family and that she would be sure to contact me when she visited
I did not think much
about it, but she kept her promise contacting me every time she was in town. Every
time we reunited, her blue eyes sparkled and she flashed her winsome wattage
smile as she wrapped me in the biggest and warmest hug. Then, always, always, she handed me a mason
jar of her homemade rhubarb jam. She was
the one who introduced me to “rhubarb.” One
time she gave me a tall plastic container with stalks of rhubarb in there. To me, the rhubarb looked like an odd celery
stalk with red undertones. I did not
understand if it was a vegetable or a fruit or a plant…? What the heck was it, really? Oh, how the rhubarb was misunderstood!! She raved about the rhubarb and how special
it was because it always had to be another and, more often than not, a
sweetener to make it edible and beyond delicious. With her, I devoured rhubarb jam and her homemade
rhubarb pie. Together, we ate, exchanged
recipes, talked about how the power of organ donation and transplantation made
an everlasting connection and bond. It
was through her granddaughter’s death and the unexpected location of where her
son lives that we have kept in touch. It
was through the introduction of her love for the rhubarb and the actual rhubarb
that I understood that we are often misunderstood as the simple and unique
rhubarb is, the world is very small and we never know who we will come into our
lives and will keep coming back, and that people do really need people just as
the rhubarb cannot be alone and must be with others to make it delicious and
This grandmother and
I rarely have contact throughout the year, but when we finally do meet and
spend time together, it is like time had never existed. Do you have people like this in your life who
you rarely ever have contact with, but then when you do, everything just fits
and feels just right as though there was never time or space in between? When this grandmother and I reunite, our time
together is always short, but full of significance—and, these, are the best and
more unforgettable times with people. Have
you experienced this with certain people in your life?
I think we all crave
connection and to be understood in this world that is really very small. Do you feel misunderstood? Have you met
someone completely unexpected through others that have come into your life? Have there been people or a person who has
kept coming back into your life? Would
you say that there is a bit of ‘rhubarb’ in all of us?
Keep smilin’ until we meet
“Coming to work is my
way to de-stress,” someone recently shared with me.
I did not know what
to say because I could not fully relate.
My life and play after I clock out to do the things I want to do them
and when I do them are vital to me. Spending
time with the people I love and care about, my health, my time, and my freedom
matter more than a job could ever mean to me.
“Don’t get me wrong,”
she hurried to explain, “I love my family, but it can be just really stressful
dealing with family stuff. Work is easy,
relaxing, and predictable…not to mention that there really isn’t any choice to
work to feed the family and make ends meet.
Compared to family stuff, work is a breeze—especially when we ALL have
to get together and there is a huge clash of personalities and preferences.”
Someone once said to
me, “Family gatherings are like business meetings where you all have to attend,
but no one REALLY wants to attend.”
For me, I am grateful
for every moment with my immediate family of my father, stepmom, and older
sister. I think I feel this way because us
four are this in one word: Oddballs.
Yes, every single Wu in the immediate Wu crew is an oddball from what we
has happened in our lives, how we faced and tackled it, and how we survived to
share with others. We have led and are still living out very unique
lives and, most of all, we simply do not fit society’s mold of how to be and
what has been expected of us. My
extended family that I am related to is another story—each of them fit the
society molds of marriage, children, well-paid and predictable jobs, and what
appears outside to be the simple and predictable lives. I have little to talk about with them and end
up with superficial and surface topics of weather and food to then having
awkward pauses. Suffice to say, I can’t
last long with superficial talk that I
end up getting bored with and crave in-depth conversation that entice me and, I
like to think, work out my brain and feelings in the best of ways.
I think that there
are many things in life that we do not want to do, but must do out of
responsibility, ownership, expectations, and even guilt. Guilt is a powerful weapon that drives us to
often do what we do not want to do, but have to do. All of these for a greater good. All of these are essentially sacrifices. I have always been a meticulous person, but I
am more about seeing and being in the bigger picture for the greater good that
is about ‘we’ and not ‘me.’ I am coming
to understand just how powerful we are as individuals that can affect an entire
group and even more. As I have gotten older, I have gotten quieter
in these sacrifice situations where ‘it is what it is’ and the choice is to
accept what must be done rather than what I want to do. People will say that we always have a choice,
but I do think we are put in positions in life where we feel trapped and do not
have a choice until time comes along with choices that we decide upon. Just about everything in life is timing. Just about everything in life is the balance
of the ‘we’ and ‘me.’ People will say
many things on the outside to you when they really have no clue what you are
going through on the inside.
What is your idea of
a sacrifice? Have you shared about your
sacrifice(s) for those you sacrificed for?
When have you ‘sacrificed’? Are
you able to see big pictures or are you meticulous? What is a sacrifice? What exactly is ‘the greater good’?
until we meet again,
I ran away from home for
the first time when I was about 8-years-old.
It was a short runaway
trip down to the neighbors with my Barbie dolls shoved in a small red suitcase
that read “To Grandmother’s House We Go.” It was actually my sister’s suitcase
and I have a feeling now that I stole it from her. As
usual, my memory fails me as to why I ran away, but I knew vaguely that it had
to do with an argument with the authoritative ways of my biological mother. My neighbors thought I was the cutest and
plumpest little butterball and sent me back home with a snarl on my face. I was such a brat.
I never did well with
authority. I do not do well with anyone
telling me what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. My father and stepmother and close friends of
mine have told me that I am bold, fearless, fierce, and they actually shy away
from telling me their honest thoughts and opinions on what I decide to do
because they know that once I decide to do it, I do it—and nothing and no one
can sway me from a decision I’ve made. I do not look back. If my decisions cause consequences where I am
burnt or hurt, then so be it, because I would have lived to be the student to
learn yet another lesson and a teacher to teach and tell about it. I do not regret.
I have been told that I am
much too inquisitive with constantly asking questions rather than just
accepting unanswerable answers. Growing
up, I found that asking questions was somewhat interpreted by others as challenging
authority and even non-compliant. To me,
the person who interpreted this way was insecure with themselves. A secure person will be open to any and all
questions to answer and to learn in the process of it all.
I have participated in
marches in the masses in a peaceful act against authority. I have written letters to governmental
officials for policies I believed in. I
have submitted and had opinion-editorial pieces published in newspapers. I am
for fighting for ‘the underdog’ as I have been the underdog one too many times
only to rise above.
Because I am the fearless
questioner that blazes on my own trail, I was told that I am a rebel. I take this word with pride and not with
Throughout life, we are
put in struggling positions that challenge our strength, our beliefs, our
values, our morals, our decision-making process, and choices that shape and
create our lives. These times often
involve searching, questioning, and standing up against what others think you
should do or be. Every life is precious
and unique. We have to live our own
lives the way we want it and not for anyone else—even if it is going to be of
the minority and much more difficult and lonely. A true test of character is in the chaos and
not the calm.
Here is the thing: I can take honest opinions and criticisms that
will better me and the core of my character and I can also take blame and
responsibility for any mistakes I make. All
of this just has to be on my own time.
But, am I really alone in anything being on our own time?
Do you question and
go up against ‘authority’ if needed? What
have you stood up for or against that has made you lonelier and of the minority
than what the majority think you should do?
What are some strong and unwavering beliefs that you have? Are you a rebel?
Keep smilin’ until we