Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Our Life Together by her beloved husband, Charles Chiu

There has been a profound sense of loss to me – as well as to David, Laurie, Carrie, Marla, other members of the family and friends. We appreciate your support, cards and donations on Lynda’s behalf. We hope the good memories of Lynda will help us to move forward with our lives. Let me recall a few of them here:

Lynda and I liked to travel, and we took numerous motor trips together. From time to time I reflect on them and savor them. She was a good planner. In the car, one of our favorite activities was to listening to audio tapes. The topics we listened to varied from novels (such her favorite Jane Austen books) to the Independence War around 1776, to early Founding Fathers, philosophy and religion. We enjoyed listening to the Great Lectures series on these topics and more. I have lingering memories of the follow-up discussions we would have after listening to these tapes.

Lynda was an outdoor person prior to our marriage, as well as in the early part of our marriage when she was physically fit. At that time she had considerable hiking experience. She told me one of the most unforgettable experiences in her life was a hike to the “Delicate Arch” in Utah.  She did not want to tell me the details.   One summer, we planned our motor trip to visit that area. I was looking forward to the hike. On that day, I started early in the morning before sunrise, and she stayed in the motel. When I had almost reached my destination, I became aware of the fact that the hike was very challenging – particularly because I am afraid of heights.  The pathway became very narrow…and alas, on one side of the path there was a steep one-mile drop. On the other side, there was a nearly vertical rock wall. My body was automatically leaning tightly against the vertical wall. I was perspiring. Taking small steps, I cautiously followed the curve of the path which was a 90 degree curve.  I finally worked my way out of the narrow path and reached the Arch.

Afterward I wondered whether there was an alternative route to reach the Arch. Lynda told me that it was the very same path she had walked through herself. We see that we worked through the same life-experience at the same location, although it was at a different time. We enjoyed traveling together, comparing our thoughts and reflecting on our experiences.

Most of our trips outside of the U.S. were to England and France. Our ­trip to China was another outstanding event in our travels. Our experiences were numerous - let me mention a few. When we were on the Great Wall, Lynda was very flattered because a Chinese family politely asked her if they could take a picture of her with their child. We visited the hometown of Confucius in the Shandong Province, cruised the Three-Gorge area of Yangtze River, and visited the campus of former St. John’s University in Shanghai where I grew up. I was able to show Lynda a small bridge that I used to cross back and forth to attend elementary school.
Lynda was very curious and inquisitive on our trips, which made our trips pleasant and memorable.

Lynda was a spiritual person. She was very interested in the writings Rabbi Abraham Heschel, who she greatly respected. She told me on several occasions that Heschel would definitely be designated as a saint, if there were such title in Judiasm. In his book God in Search of Man, Heschel discusses the notion of Depth Theology. He explains that different religions have different superstructures. Deep down in one’s mind, there is a common yearning to connect one’s mind to God.  This is the spiritual component of the mind. You may recall that Heschel and Martin Luther King (who was a Baptist minister) marched side by side at Selma Alabama during the Civil Rights movement. Because of the Depth Theology, Heschel found that at the spiritual level they could communicate with each other.

Lynda had a Jewish background (based on the Old Testament). I have a Christian background (based on the New Testament). Because of Depth Theology, we prayed to a common God. Lynda believed a family that prays together sticks together. In our daily prayers, our focus was on our family, our friends and the safety of Israel.

Lynda was a lifelong learner. She absorbed new information like a sponge during our travels, and we attended Elderhostel programs to combine learning with travel.  At home she had ready-to-read books in most of the rooms so that they could be conveniently picked up and read. At the time of our marriage she had never touched a computer. Since then she learned basic computer skills to help her to organize the TAP curriculum on the computer. At the time she actively attended U.T. functions to look for potential speakers for TAP. She was not only a life learner, she also devoted a lot of energy, such as the TAP program to help others to learn.

We hope that the memories of Lynda’s life cited here, and much more, will continue be with us. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Words by her beloved son, David Levy

The Joys of Being a Momma's Boy

Although I never really considered myself a momma's boy, per se, my mom and I did have a really special relationship. As far back as I can remember... and that's pretty much back to the beginning... I have vivid memories of us being together. She would drag me everywhere; to the store, on the train to Manhattan, to concerts at Lewisohn Stadium at CCNY, to the Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Plum Beach, City Island, Prospect Park, Central Park  and so many other wonderful places  for a very young boy to discover and learn about the multicultural life in New York City.  One indelible memory of our times together as a small child was the way she would take tissue out of her purse, lick it and wipe dirt or food off my face. I can still remember the smell of that tissue to this day.

Even though, over the years we became political opposites, I will never ever forget how my political and social outlook was forged by her own views of "peace", "ban the bomb", tolerance for others' differences, etc.  For example, when I was about six years of age (circa 1956), I would look at all my mom's books and magazines she kept on a black wire rack in the room I called my bedroom (actually shared with my dad who worked at night). The publications that most piqued my curiosity were those published by Grove Press, called Evergreen Review, a world renowned "Beat Generation" periodical that opened my eyes to so many "radical"  ideas, such as alternative lifestyles, racial equality, world peace and drug addiction. At that time, these were somewhat "underground" concepts. The bottom line is that I have always believed in what she was teaching  me and lived my life accordingly.

No matter  how our personal views at the time of her passing differed, she was always the fairest and most honest woman in the world and I will keep her life lessons with me for ever.
Not only was Lynda Chiu my mother, she was always my best friend and confidant and her passing has left a void in my life I may never fill again. Maybe that's the way it should be. After all, there is no one in the world that could fill her shoes so I'll have to hang on to her memory and keep her in my prayers each and every night. I know she's up there checking up on me so I must keep on being her "momma's boy" and keep making her proud.

Rest In Peace mother. I will always love you and your spirit for life.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Words from Laurie Baxter (Granddaughter)

Grandma was a mother figure to me after my mom past away when I was twenty-four. In addition, she was a confidant and a friend. She was one of my staunchest allies. "Who will love me unconditionally, now?," my heart cries out in pain.

Grandma's practicality and ability to cut through the superfluous are two abilities I admired. She was always a great at cutting to the heart of a situation and dispense advice that was very applicable, even if was not the thing I wanted to heart at the moment. "Who will be my guide, now?," my heart howls in grief.

She never wavered in her faith no matter what life through at her. She drew strength from it. The stalwart path she blazed through her spiritual journey was always amazing to me. "Who will show me the right path to walk?," my heart laments.

My heart is broken and bruised. However, it is my soul which is afflicted the most knowing there won't be more memories of her added to my life...

Her death is so new and raw. I feel so very empty.  It is to this end I look back and dig deep. I realize that those things I admired the most in Grandma are in me. The compendium of my memories of her will carry me through my life acting as a plumb-line of the woman I want to be. This is how I will celebrate her life.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Carrie's Thoughts by Carrie Paschal (Granddaughter)

Grandma was truly the matriarch of our family, and a strong force in all of our lives.  She could be tough and unyielding at times, especially when it came to upholding her personal values, but she loved us all fiercely and was always so proud us!  She was a parent and teacher as well as a grandmother, amd she provided a valuable consistency to our lives that we could always count on.  Our lives would not have been the same without her.

We sisters all share a wealth of childhood memories around the time we spent with her growing up. Here are some things I remember most:

  • She addressed us as "Gorgeous."
  • She always straightened and smoothed our bobby socksShe always had gum and kleenex in her purse (and now as an adult so do I).
  • She never let us get away with not making our beds or not cleaning up after ourselves (she always said "There are no hooks on my floors!").
  • She always had sweets in the house (and we have all inherited her sweet tooth)
  • She loved spending time with us and always made an effort to do so.
  • She drove us around town on all of her errands and would always get lost on the way (she called it "bumbling around").
  • She made sure we went to summer camp every year
  • She had a closet with more shoes and dresses than anyone I have ever seen - how we loved to play in her closet and try on her things!
  • She would always rinse us off with a hose before we could go into the house after swimming.
  • She was always beautifully coiffed and dressed - she never looked sloppy, even when lounging at home.