A Tribute To My Mother, Grace Yeh

My mother Grace passed away yesterday.  It is still difficult to grasp the reality of that statement.

A month ago, I saw my mother when we picked up our daughter from her freshman year at USC.  She seemed frailer than before, but no one in the family had any thought that she would pass away any time soon.

It turns out that she likely was already suffering from Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocystosis (HLH) a rare and deadly autoimmune disease: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hemophagocytic-lymphohistiocystosis

A few weeks ago, she went into the hospital because she was having trouble standing up, and her condition swiftly deteriorated.  Within a week of being admitted, she was in the ICU and on a ventilator as her vital organs began to fail.

Despite some of the best medical care in the world from UCLA Medical Center (whose staff were invariably compassionate and went the extra mile to make my mother and the rest of the family feel cared for during this time), her condition continued to worsen.  Her medical team tried the few treatments available for HLH, but there was no improvement.

I gathered my family to drive down to Los Angeles for what we knew would likely be our last visit.  As we exited the freeway, my dad sent a text message: “The doctor said they won’t be able to sustain her much time now. You need to be here soon to see her.”  We had been planning on meeting my sister for lunch, but we drove immediately to the hospital and sprinted to her room.

Thank goodness, we arrived in time, as did my sister.  The kids and Alisha were able to say their goodbyes, and my father, sister, and I were able to hold my mother’s hands as she passed away, a little over an hour after we arrived.

Those are the facts of the situation, and I wanted to share them up front, so that you would not have any questions in your mind.  But what I want to focus on is my mom, Grace Yeh, and what she meant to all of us.


My mom was born in China in 1944.  The English transliteration of her Mandarin name would be Ching-Hsia Shen.  She was born into a turbulent world; the Republic of China had been fighting an invasion by Imperial Japan since 1937, and my mother’s childhood included repeated moves to escape the fighting.  Then, once World War 2 ended, the Chinese Civil War kicked off, and as a result of Mao’s victory in 1949, my mother became a refugee and her family fled to Taiwan.

My mother was the third of four siblings who survived childhood.  My Uncle Ben was the eldest, followed by my Auntie Janie, and then my mother.  My Uncle Larry was the youngest and final sibling.

My grandfather was a part of the government, focused on rice distribution, so he was traveling much of the war period, leaving my grandmother to raise four children in trying times.  While I remember my grandmother as a kindly old woman who had the unusual quirk of preferring toasting her rice before cooking it, from my mother’s stories, I learned that my grandmother was a fearsome force of nature with a legendary temper.  I imagine she had to be tough to bring her family through the war years.

My mother then grew up in post-war Taiwan, where she met my father when they were both children.  Both my sets of grandparents knew each other (my paternal grandfather was a government economist, who helped plan Taiwan’s post-war economic growth) and the families lived in the same town.  I remember my mother telling me that she had a schoolgirl crush on my dad, who was one year older than her, and that one time, she was asked to bring his lunch to school for him, which resulted in some playground teasing.

After growing up and attending college in Taiwan, my parents came to the United States for graduate school, as part of the first wave of Chinese immigrants allowed under the new Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_and_Nationality_Act_of_1965

My mother was able to come over because my Uncle Ben and Auntie Janie were already studying in the United States, and worked to find a graduate program in Los Angeles so she could be closer to my father.  That’s how my father Yea-Chuan Yeh ended up earning his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UCLA, while my mother earned her Masters in Library Science from USC.  My parents got married during graduate school, and then had two children, my sister Caroline, and then me four and a half years later.

That’s how the Yeh family came to settle in Southern California.  Shortly before I was born, we moved to my childhood home, which is where my father lives to this day.


Those are the facts, but facts alone do not tell a full story.

Like many Chinese families, my mother’s family revered education.  Uncle Ben, Auntie Janie, and Uncle Larry all earned doctorates in Physics, Chemistry, and Physics respectively.  Both Uncle Ben and Uncle Larry were Physics professors in their careers.  Somehow, my completely non-quantitative and emotional mother was born into this family, and it wasn’t always an easy fit.

My mother was the underestimated one.  Not like Uncle Ben and Auntie Janie, who were classic charismatic extroverts with outsized personalities (Uncle Ben would go on to chair the Physics department at UC Riverside, and played an important role in American involvement in the Large Hadron Collider; you can read more about his remarkable life here: https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/inmemoriam/html/benjaminchingchunshen.html ).  Meanwhile, Uncle Larry was the youngest and favorite child, and also showed prodigious early talent in the sciences.  It was easy for family and friends to overlook the quieter, less-academically focused sibling.

My mother was certainly smart; you don’t earn a Masters without intelligence.  But she focused far more on the heart than the head.  She was always the emotional center of everything, whether it was taking charge when my grandmother fell ill with cancer, or helping coordinate Uncle Ben’s cancer treatments a few decades later.  Here’s a small example–whenever I wanted to talk with my dad, I simply called my mom, since she was likely with him, and would want to chat first anyway.

Perhaps because of the way she was overlooked in her life, she was fiercely devoted to fairness, and didn’t hesitate to fight if she had to.  As you’ll read later on, this underestimated power would prove critical to shaping my life.

At the same time, she was also a lively presence and natural connector.  She had an expressive face that was terrible at hiding her emotions, and you would rarely be in the dark about her feelings.  When we went grocery shopping together, she was the kind of person who spoke with the other people in line and got to know them.

As my dear friend Rick St. John put it, “No one ever had to ask themselves, ‘Did I ever meet Grace Yeh?’  If you ever met her, you remembered her!”

I can’t count the number of memories I have of my mother talking on the phone.  First with corded phones, then cordless phones, and finally using smartphones and tablets (nearly always on speakerphone).  She would talk with her friends for hours, listening patiently to their trials and tribulations, and trying to help however she could.

I consider myself a devoted friend and someone who tries to help others as much as practical, and I’m certain those traits come from my mother.  She didn’t tell me I had to be a certain way; I just learned from being around her and seeing how she treated other people.

On the morning that she passed away, she was still receiving visitors.  Some were relatives like Uncle Ben’s widow, Mayling, and my cousins Kathy and Christine.  But another visitor was our former cleaning lady, Naomi, whom she had known since the 1990s.  When Naomi heard that my mother was dying, she rushed over to say her farewells, which says so much about the kind of person my mother was.


My mother and father were married for nearly 54 years, but as you’ve read, they’d known each other practically their entire lives.  They were deeply and profoundly in love, which made them remarkable role models for me.

In many ways, they were opposites–the brilliant and intellectual engineer of few words, and the emotional librarian of many words.  But that meant that they complemented each other.  When I was a child, I can recall seeing them with their friends.  A few families would gather at a place like Shakey’s Pizza Parlor, and while we kids were stuffing ourselves with pizza and stuffing quarters into the videogame arcade, the parents would sit around and laugh while drinking pitchers of beer.  “How boring,” I often thought to myself, “Wasting time talking when they could be playing Pac-Man!”  I can see the flushed faces and cheerful banter.  Occasionally someone would say something particularly funny, and everyone, including my father, would laugh uproariously.  My mother would talk more than my dad, but he would talk more on those occasions and was obviously having a wonderful time.

Once I had graduated from Stanford, and my education wasn’t draining the family finances, they took to frequent travel.  They traveled the country and the world, going on cruises and tours with friends.  I’m so glad that they took the time to do so, even when my father was still working.  And whenever they got back and I saw them again, they would show off their vacation photos, which gradually evolved from photo books to iPads.

My mother liked to show her love through acts of service.  For the past decade or so, my dad (who celebrated his 80th birthday without any hint of retiring) has worked in the City of Industry.  Since it was too far for a daily commute from our home in Santa Monica, they bought a condo close to his work and would spend weekdays there, my mom insisting she had to be there to make sure he ate properly and took care of himself.

Yet if my mother was devoted to my father, he was even more devoted to her.  She made the family decisions (with his input of course) and his job was to find a way to execute those decisions.  And when she began to get sick (and we still had no idea why), he switched to being her caregiver, gently coaxing her into eating more, and making sure she was seeing the best doctors.

There are two moments that stick out in my mind from the past few weeks.  The first is a few days ago, when we spoke with my mother’s medical team, and they told us that there was nothing more they could do, and that she likely had less than a week.  I was on the phone, having just returned from overseas.  When the doctor finished speaking (in the gentlest and most compassionate way) there was silence.  And then I could hear my father’s deep sobs as the pronouncement sunk in.

My father is normally quite stoic.  He is able to handle almost anything.  But in that moment, I flashed back to the last time I had seen him in tears.  It was nearly forty years ago, when his father, my grandfather, who was living with my uncle in New Jersey, had passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack.  He was devastated, especially by the fact that he wasn’t able to be there with his father.  But the news about my mother’s worsening condition was an even greater blow.  I’m glad my sister was there in the room to comfort him.

Then yesterday, as my mother passed away, I watched as he gazed intently at her face, his eyes filled with love and tears.  I felt like he was trying to drink in the last moments he would ever have with the love of his life, capturing them in his memory to last the rest of his life.  It’s clear that he didn’t see an unconscious patient, but rather the woman he loved for over 60 years.  There’s a pop culture cliche to say, “Find someone who looks at you like X looks at Y.”  You would be the luckiest person in the world if you found someone who looked at you the way my dad looked at my mom.


Looking back, I find it amazing how much my mother shaped my life.  I believe in the power of decisive moments, in which an entire life can pivot, and my mother played a key role in many of those decisive moments in my life, starting with the day I was born.

I was born with a small ventricular septal defect–a literal hole in my heart.  While we were still in the hospital, a doctor came to my mother with the news and recommended that I undergo open heart surgery to repair the defect while we were there.  I’m sure it would be easy for surgeons to get consent from many people.  After all, they are the experts.  But not my mother.  She demanded a second opinion, and after bringing in various experts, she decided against major and risky surgery on her newborn son (me).  Ultimately, I’ve never required any treatment other than taking antibiotics before getting dental work, and seeing a cardiologist every five years for an echocardiogram.  It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that my immigrant mother’s willingness to stand up to all the doctors might have saved my life.

When I was in elementary school, I was struggling.  Not because the work was too hard, but because it was too easy.  My teachers compared me to my sister Caroline, the perfect straight-A student, and wondered how her little brother could be so different, so difficult.  I mostly ignored my teachers and read whatever books I could find in the classroom.  The schools thought I was a problem.  My mother thought the schools were the problem.  She found out about the Mirman School for Gifted Children, and took me there to be tested.  And when the school offered me admission, she convinced my dad to switch jobs so that the family could afford to pay my tuition.  This was a real sacrifice; my father was working for JPL, the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory, focusing on developing cutting-edge solar cells to power interplanetary probes.  It was glamorous and important work.  But he gave it up to work in the private sector so that we could afford to send me to private school.  And the sacrifice worked.  At the Mirman School, we were allowed to learn at our own pace (some of my classmates were taking Calculus in the 6th grade) and the boost the school gave me was vital to how my life turned out.

(As I drove my family for our final visit with my mom, I was reminded of yet another sacrifice that she had made.  The Mirman School was located off Mulholland Drive, on the 405 freeway.  Because of traffic, it was 30-45 minutes from our home in Santa Monica.  And my mother always hated to drive on the freeway.  Her hatred of freeway driving bordered on the comical.  And yet, for the four years that I attended the Mirman School, she drove me to and from school.  Carpooling helped a bit, but she was still undertaking a task she loathed and dreaded hundreds of times per year, just to make sure I could get to school.)

At the Mirman School, and later Lincoln Junior High and Santa Monica High School, my mom and her Masters in Library Science would always volunteer to help at the library.  The librarians were grateful for her help, and perhaps because of this, were willing to exempt me from the usual limits on how many books I could check out.  Since I was reading 2-4 books per day, I needed the leniency!  I was just doing something I loved, but it’s pretty obvious in retrospect that reading a thousand books a year during one’s childhood is good preparation for becoming a best-selling author!

At the end of my time at Lincoln Junior High, another problem emerged which called for my mother’s forceful advocacy.  Because of my years at the Mirman School, I was well beyond my official grade level.  And since Lincoln was transitioning into a middle school, my 8th grade year would have involved repeating material that I had covered years before.  When my mother met with the principal to see what the school was willing to do to help, the principal responded, “You should be glad.  Since the material is easy, he’ll get straight As.”  When my mother pointed out that I was already getting straight As, and that I was already scoring higher on the SAT than 97% of college students, the principal replied, “He’s just a good test-taker.”  This (rightly) infuriated my mother, who sprang into action.

I don’t know how, but she quickly secured meetings with the leadership at Santa Monica High School, and with the director of a special program for talented youth at UCLA.  After speaking with my mother and interviewing me, the 12-year-old Chris was offered the choice of either starting high school two years early, or starting college at UCLA five years early.  Once again, my mother guided me wisely, steering me away from the very appealing idea (at least to me) of attending college as a 12-year-old, and instead choosing SAMOHI, where I would graduate as valedictorian three years later.

(By the way, that same dismissive Lincoln Junior High principal went on to become Vice President of the California State Board of Education, a position she held for eleven years.  You can supply your own commentary on what that implies for state policy-making.)

After I graduated from Stanford, I wasn’t sure what I would do next.  I had considered graduate school, but seemed most likely to join many of my classmates and start working at IDEO for my advisor, the legendary David Kelley (which would have been a great choice).  That’s when my mother again changed the course of my life, this time with a single question.  I had received a letter from D.E. Shaw & Co., the legendary quantitative hedge fund.  I later learned that DESCO sends such a letter to every senior who graduates with distinction or honors from one of the top 25 universities in the US.  I showed the letter to my mom for her amusement, since certainly I had no interest in hedge funds or Wall Street.  That’s when my mom asked her question: “Wouldn’t you like to see what it’s like to fly first class?”  Good point, Mom, I said.  One screening interview later, and I was sitting at the front of a plane for the first time in my life, enjoying the warm nuts.  Of course, when the flight attendants offered me wine, I demurred, since I still hadn’t turned 21.  I interviewed at D.E. Shaw without any intention of ever working there, but during the interview process, I learned that D.E. Shaw wanted me to work on internet startup projects, and I soon found myself joining the firm.  While I’m sure I would have made a pretty good designer, my mom’s question sent me down the path of becoming a startup person, and I have reaped and had experiences I never thought possible as a result.

When my son Jason was born, my mom and dad were again there to help.  Through a stroke of luck, my father’s employer had been acquired, and to retain him, the acquirer signed a contract that stated that my father would be allowed to continue to work out of Los Angeles.  When the acquiring company decided to shut down LA operations and move everyone to Albuquerque, my father exercised his employment contract, which called for him to be paid his full salary and benefits for a year, under the condition that he not work for anyone else.  We rented a larger house, and my parents moved into the master suite for a year, allowing them to see their first grandchild every day, and allowing my wife Alisha and I to actually get some sleep now and then and not go insane.  That was sacrifice enough, but when our daughter Marissa was born two years later, my father was back at a traditional job.  But rather than put Marissa into daycare when Alisha’s maternity leave ended, my mother offered to come up and live in the master suite again to help care for her new granddaughter.  This meant being away from my dad, and once again cramming into a single master bedroom, but she gladly did it.

As I may have mentioned before, my mother prioritized family above all else, sometimes in ways that swerved into the irrational.  When I was young, if I got sick and had a fever, my mom didn’t want to give me aspirin or acetaminophen, so instead she stayed up all night sponging my sleeping face with cool wet washcloths to keep my temperature down.  I’m pretty sure that’s insane and unnecessary, but she did this many times.  My mother loved telling me gruesome stories from China that I’m pretty sure were urban myths.  One of her favorites was the story of a mother who cut the flesh off her own leg to make a nourishing broth for her child.  She told the story with grim satisfaction, as if she were waiting for the opportunity to cook me a cannibal broth.  I was pretty sure this wasn’t a rational course of action, but I was left with no doubt how much she was willing to sacrifice for her kids and later grandkids.

When Marissa was older and finished breastfeeding, we even allowed my mother to take her back to Santa Monica with her for a few weeks, which she spent showing off her granddaughter to the delight (and intense jealousy) of all her friends.  This kind of sacrifice helped Jason and Marissa develop much deeper relationships with their grandparents than is typical, and I’m grateful for both the sacrifice and the results.

In 2019, something happened that struck me as terrible bad luck at the time, but ended up being positive in retrospect.  While I was playing basketball on the morning of Sunday, June 30, I tore my Achilles tendon.  This is one of the worst athletic injuries that can occur, and what made it worse were the circumstances.  Alisha and Marissa were in Columbus, Ohio, for USA Fencing Nationals, and wouldn’t be back for a week.  Meanwhile, Jason’s summer job started the next day.  I did the only thing I could think to do–I called my mother.

She might have been in her mid-70s, but she sprang into action with all of her decisiveness and force.  “We’ll be there as soon as we can.”  She later told me that she and my dad just started packing, without even saying a word.  They loaded their luggage into the car and drove off.  I got back from the ER and called my mom at around 3 PM.  During the drive, I-5 suffered a huge accident, and they ended up stuck in traffic for over seven hours.  But they drove with grim determination and incredible stamina, and arrived at around 2 AM to take charge of the situation.  The next day, they drove me to my doctor’s appointment, where I arranged to have surgery the next day.  That following day, they drove me to the surgery center, and were there to greet me once I was out of the recovery room, pushing me around in a wheelchair.

That first week was particularly brutal.  My surgically repaired leg was hooked up to a water-cooled cast, which meant that I was hooked up to a pump all the time.  I had to call for help just to get unplugged to go to the bathroom.  My entire world shrank to my bed, and hobbling to the bathroom.

My mother took ruthless advantage.  I had to do whatever she commanded, which meant that she had an entire week to nag me about the things she thought I should do, as well as total control over my diet.  She decided that what I really needed to heal was lots of tendon.  So she fed me stewed beef tendons at every meal.  They were not appealing.  While my mom’s cooking skills were such that they didn’t taste that bad, she couldn’t do anything about the texture (like chewing rubber bands) or the aftertaste, complete with the unpleasant sensation of a film coating the inside of my mouth.

It was a tough time, and I felt pretty down, given the long recovery process and how the injury and surgery were screwing up my professional life as well.  But I treasure that time now, because how many 40-somethings have the chance to spend so much time with their parents?  It also gave my mother a very special gift, which was the ability to take care of me again, when perhaps she thought that would never happen again.

Even at the time, I felt an incredible gratitude to my parents for their love and help, but the memories are even more poignant now.  Not long afterward, the pandemic struck, which meant that I didn’t see my parents in person for over a year.  And of course, I had much less time with my mother than I ever anticipated.  I feel grateful that she had that unexpected chance to mother me, and for me to feel her love.

(You can read more about my Achilles injury experiences here: https://chrisyeh.com/tag/achilles/page/2 )


My mother was not a perfect person.  As I mentioned, she inherited some of my grandmother’s legendary temper, and when it came out, her tongue could be quite sharp.  She was also incredibly superstitious, and once she put her faith into something, nothing could shake it.  For example, she was always convinced that Vitamin E supplements fixed my heart, and that running or jumping after eating would cause appendicitis.  Perhaps because she was around during the 1970s, she maintained a lifelong enthusiasm for astrology, and would always ask me to find out the birthdays of the important people in my life.  In my family, I was the only Libra in a sea of Tauruses, and she would always comment on how difficult that might have made things for me.  Ironically enough, both Jason and Marissa are Tauruses as well.  If she got upset at me for some reason, I could predict word-for-word some of the stories she would wheel out as evidence that I should always listen to her, and good luck if I tried to point out the logical flaws in her arguments.  Most of all, she would always nag me.  Even if the advice was good (I should lose some weight) it wasn’t always easy to take.

One time, I asked her, “I hear you talk with your friends all the time, and you’re always such a good, non-judgmental listener.  How come you’re always nagging me?”

Her response was, “I don’t care what happens to them!  That’s why I can just listen when they’re talking.  But I care so much what happens to you, which is why I have to nag you!”  And no amount of persuasion could change her mind on that front.

Yet as I’ve heard other people say, now that she’s gone, I’m going to miss each and every one of those flaws.  And the habits that irked me before now seem like endearing quirks.  If she were able to call me up and nag me now, I would be unbelievably happy.


There are a few things I keep saying to try to comfort myself right now.

The first is that I feel so lucky that my mom and I didn’t leave anything unsaid.  From the day I left home for college until her final illness and passing, very few weeks went by without our talking on the phone.  Often, we would talk multiple times per week.  I knew that she enjoyed talking with her long-distance child (my sister still lives in LA) so I would call her regularly.  Before the pandemic, when I commuted by car, I would call her on my drive, even though invariably she would urge me to hang up because she felt it wasn’t safe.

When the pandemic hit, those drives went away, so I started calling her when Jason and I took our dog Misty for a walk, so that she could also hear from her grandson as well.  Over the years, we had developed a running gag–I would always greet her in Chinese by saying, “Oh obedient mother!”  We would talk about whatever she felt like, and often I would do my best to explain what I was doing professionally.  Regardless of how much of my explanations of venture capital she understood, she was proud of me, and said so many times.

The second is that I got to see her shortly before she entered the hospital.  Alisha and I drove down to Los Angeles to pick up Marissa after her freshman year at USC, and we stopped to visit my parents.  My mother seemed frailer than she had been, and was missing some of her usual zest, though none of us had any sense that things would deteriorate so quickly.  Despite her fatigue, she perked up when we were there, and we were able to exchange love and warm embraces.  I’m happy that my mom got to see that her children and grandchildren were happy and healthy.

The third is a cliche, but still true: My mother lived a full and happy life.  She married her childhood crush and was the love of his life.  She had a host of friends and a busy social calendar.  She saw and enjoyed most of the continents of the world, some with her kids, and all with her beloved husband.  She got to deeply enjoy her grandchildren and see them grow into adulthood.  So many people do not get these opportunities.  I certainly wanted and expected to have her in my life for another decade, but I’m grateful for the time we had.  She will be remembered and loved by many, which is what any of us must hope for as our legacy.


While I have few regrets, I still have them.

I wish I had been more aggressive about getting together post-pandemic.  We visited my parents in Santa Monica, and they came to visit us for Marissa’s graduation, and this past Christmas, but we could have squeezed in one or two more meetings.  It didn’t seem that urgent at the time, since I thought we’d have many more years (and had planned accordingly).

I wish I had pushed more aggressively to have more intensive medical testing sooner.  It may not have made a difference in the outcome, but I’ll never know.  Something was affecting her mobility, and while my mother blamed it on a fall that she suffered 40 years earlier, that explanation never made sense.  She saw doctors for her mobility issues, and they diagnosed spinal degeneration, and prescribed physical therapy, which was the right thing to do, but perhaps if we kept pushing, she would have eventually gotten a bone marrow biopsy and identified the issue sooner.  I accepted the seemingly logical theory that my mom had stopped exercising daily because of the pandemic, and concentrated my efforts on getting her to do her physical therapy exercises.  It was a reversal that I thought was funny at the time–instead of my mom nagging me, I was nagging her.

My final regrets are two things I didn’t get to do.  The first is that because my parents have been so healthy and energetic until now, and my mother’s illness so swift and severe, that I never got a chance to “repay” all their care and support by taking care of them in their final years.  It’s rare that a child ever gets to fully “repay” their parents, but I didn’t get a chance to do any of it.  I specifically designed my house to have a place for my mom and dad to live, and now she will never get a chance to live there.  This is especially painful because one of my mother’s biggest grievances is that when she and my father got married, they bought a small apartment complex rather than a house, a decision that may have seemed logical at the time, but soon became an albatross after Santa Monica enacted rent control laws.  All her life, my mother wanted to live in a house rather than an apartment, and I wanted to give that to her in her final years.

The second regret is something I intended to do once my parents were living with me.  I wanted to record their oral histories so that all the stories that my mom told me over the years wouldn’t just be in my memories, but would be recorded on video for my children and their children as well.  Why should they miss out on hearing about mothers who sacrifice themselves for their children, or some of the fearsome things my grandmother did to maintain discipline in the household?

For both of these regrets, the best I can do is to focus on supporting my father, and recording his memories of my mother when he is ready.  I think he would like to keep her memory alive, both for himself and the rest of the family.


I wrote this tribute in a frenzy today.  I felt a compulsion to share my mother’s story and my memories of her as soon as I could, while the grief and impressions of her passing were fresh and raw.  This tribute is for her and her memory, but it’s also for my own sake.  I felt like the grieving process couldn’t truly begin until I finished this.

I know that as the years go by, I will frequently be reminded of my mother.  I might hear her voice in my mind, or remember one of her stories.  My goal in writing this tribute is to focus my mind (and everyone else’s) on the positive memories so that when a reminder comes, it will bring a smile to my face.  Rather than sadly thinking, “That reminds me of my mother,” I’ll be able to fondly think, “That reminds me of my mother.”

If you’ve had the patience to read this far, thank you.  I hope you have a clearer picture of what my mother was like, and I thank you for letting me take you on this journey through our memories of her.

If you are fortunate to still have your mother in your life, tell her how much you love her.  If you’ve also lost your mother, think about how much she meant to you, and how proud she would be of the person you have chosen to be.

When I reflect on my mother’s remarkable life, the lesson I keep coming back to is this: It’s all about love.  When our lives are over, it becomes pretty clear that love is the most important thing that we experience and do, and that the love we give and receive during our days and years ends up being our main legacy, both in the form of our loved ones and their memories of us.

My mother loved deeply and completely, and we loved her back.  She wasn’t perfect, and she didn’t get or accomplish everything she wanted in life, but she found love and built a life around the family she loved so much.  I love her and miss her.

8 thoughts on “A Tribute To My Mother, Grace Yeh

  1. Perry Harrington

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss Chris. I only knew your parents through your stories about building your house, but you have a remarkable mother.

    My wife said you have a real gift for writing and you should write more like this, not just “that nerdy stuff”. 😂

    1. I’m glad that the tribute resonated with her. I think I need to be inspired to write like this; hopefully my next such inspiration will be good fortune.

  2. Vish Mishra

    Hi Chris,
    What a heart warming story!! Read it word by word!
    Your parents, especially mom deserves the Nobel Prize in Motherhood!!
    Let her fondest memories help you cope during this difficult period.
    Best Wishes,

  3. Sophia Yen

    She was a wonderful force in this world. This is an impressive, loving, moving tribute. Hugs & tears.

  4. Terry

    Beautiful tribune and memories of your Mom who is the same age as mine and they probably shared similar early childhood memories of growing up in Taiwan after being born in China during war time. Must have been a very tough Father’s Day but it’s a blessing that you were all together to celebrate her life. RIP

  5. Michael Nichols

    Chris, thanks so much for your thoughtful post. My mother died in January and, similarly, her decline was rapid and unexpected — but the family was able to be present to say goodbye, and at the moment of her passing.

    So much of life’s meaning can be distilled into the simple conclusion you shared – as exemplified by your mother: it truly is all about love.

    These wonderful and powerful women deserve to have their stories told and thank you for taking a moment during this delicate time to share some of her story with the world.

  6. Jagadiswar

    A tribute to the love of the Mother is charismatically vivid. A truly amazing person of grit and determination to have raised a kid who would later write this fond memoir. Sad that your wish of a live recording of Mother’s memoirs remained a dream.
    As you recounted, you would fondly remember that reminds of your Mother’s incredible affection. May I offer my sincere condolences?

  7. A story, which in most parts I can relate to stongly.

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