We met Shirley only a few times, but she had left such a deep impression on us that we will never forget her.
The first time we met her was during the 2005 Annual Spring Dinner at the Peony Restaurant in Oakland, hosted by the Overseas Alumni Association of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on March 6, 2005.
We shared a table and I found out that Johnson was an early graduate of the Engineering Faculty while Shirley belonged to the New Asia College at CUHK. We talked a lot about the campus, the University and its future development plans. We really had a very good time. Shirley was warm, open, friendly and very easy to talk to in spite of our huge difference in age. However, what struck me the most was that Shirley came across as the very model of a perfect wife and a great mother in the most traditional sense of the Chinese culture. Later on, I found out that she was also holding a very important postion at Citibank in San Francisco. With her banking expertise and bilingual ability, she had helped many local Chinese deal with their financial problems. Therefore, in my mind, she was not only a traditional, perfect wife and mother, but also a very capable modern woman, which was an extremely rare combination indeed.
The next time we met Shirley was on Easter day, 2005. She and Johnson came to visit us and we went to several vineyards in Napa Valley for sightseeing and wine tasting. Even though it was raining very heavily on that particular day, we still had a great time. We talked about all kinds of things, including their work, their daily life and their dreams, and it was the first time I learned about the craiglist website!
Around November 2005, we met again at the newly opened restaurant Asian Pearl in El Cerrito, known for its wide selection of dim sum dishes, and I found out that Shirley liked the Chinese scallion pancake and a specially marinated beancurd dish (Lo Shiu Tofu). She said both dishes were quite good, and I began to realize that she was a gourmet cook herself! She also recommended the vegetarian restaurant Lucky Creation in the San Francisco Chinatown to me, and in fact gave me their business card. We also talked about lots of other things, from raising children to investing in real estate in Texas. We really had a great time. A few weeks later, we tried that vegetarian restaurant in San Franciso and indeed it was very good, and I am going to treasure the business card Shirley gave me as a permanent momento.
To me, mother's love is the greatest love on earth and there is nothing a mother would not sacrifice for her children. In Shirley's case, she had made the ultimate sacrifice in giving birth to her darling little girl Carina! I am sure that her spirit will always be there for Carina, will always be watching out for her. I am very sad that Shirley had left us so early and so suddenly, but she will always be in our hearts and we will all miss her greatly.