My mother and I thank profoundly the entire McKay Memorial hospital Hospice staff and doctors for their unwavering courage in guiding my mom and my family through one of the toughest times in our lives earlier this year. My mother was stricken with a freightful terminal cancer. Never before had we experienced fear that had no name. I admit, I was the most vocal opponent to sending my mother to the hospice care unit in the beginning, but in the end, it was the hospice that provided my mom and I the opportunity find peace and acceptance in the end. McKay Memorial Hospital Hospice Center gave me strength and opened my heart to see beauty, human kindness, and undying strength of human spirit in their care at end of my mom's journey. It is a place full of hope, inspiration and most of all - abundant LOVE.
Thank you McKay Memorial Hospital Hospice Center in Danshui, Taipei, especially its fearless leader, Hospice Director, Ms. Hong Wen Chen, for all you do each day and every hour of human life.
Daughter of Chen Ching Chuang, who went to heaven with a peaceful smile on March 31, 2011.
My Mom's Story:
WINGS OF LOVE, CAPE OF COURAGE
- By Huey-Min Chuang
Black may be a fashionable color, a chic color hanging on New York clothing racks. But to my Taiwanese mother, black has never been a color. Pink is my mother. She loves all shades and hues of pink that you can eat, drink, wear and pluck for a Mother’s Day bouquet. Cherry blossom, carnation, rose, magenta, fuchsia, pink, pink, pink, and all variations of this color - hang in her mile long closet, reflecting decades of transoceanic shopping choices and body transformations. I smile. Then I pick out her favorite outfits. They will go with her into the coffin for cremation; so that she can wear them in her Buddhist reincarnated afterlife.
A "jackpot" cancer took my mother's life on the last day of March, 2011; age sixty-eight, after wrestling with the demons of her illness for four months. “One in a million,” the doctor said.
In the beginning of her hospital stay, when she had to use the bathroom, my mother would put on a formal magenta suit jacket over her standard issued, floral print hospital gown, to hide the letters that read “MacKay Memorial Hospital, Taipei.” This, she said, helped her feel in control. I could see that it also reaffirmed her sense of elegance. Until she lost any ability to get out of the bed, and needed to be transferred to the “MacKay Memorial Hospice Center in Danshui,” she insisted on donning the jacket, even if she had to go eight times in an hour.
My mother told me that she was not afraid of death. It was the dying process she was afraid of. This brought to mind a poem I once wrote for her on Valentine's Day. It was titled "Wings of Love."
Tender were your words
When my heart was breaking.
Your hugs opened my wings
That travelled the entire world.
So immense was your Love
That the courage that carries me
From day to day without border
Inspired by the poem, I folded a red blanket in half, and cut out two heart shapes with an opening in the middle where her head would go. Then I added tassels of giant red ribbons, the color of love, in the center, at the sides, and on the bottom of the cape and made her a “Cape of Courage - Wings of Love.” When she wore it frontally, it looked like two chained unbreakable hearts, protecting all evil from her. When she wore it sideways, the hearts became a set of invincible wings that gave her courage to fly.
Mom, you are my undying heroe, always.