An Everlasting Memory

My father passed away in January of 2003 in Los Angeles. I was on a company overseas assignment in Asia Pacific at the time and took a family leave back to LA to attend the memorial services with my elder brother Hsiung-Fei, younger brother Der Pu and their families. I was fortunate to have spent the Christmas holidays in LA two weeks earlier with my wife Edie and son Michael and had a nice visit with him for the last time. It’s a Chinese custom, at least in my family, to stay up the whole night in candle lights and burning incense sticks to remember our lives together and to pray for his resting in peace. During that night, my elder brother wrote this article in Chinese and I translated it into English as he finished each paragraph. We were both in tears as we worked through the night. My younger brother printed the brochure over night for the public memorial service in the morning. Eighteen year have passed since then. My memory of that night was still as fresh as yesterday…

An Everlasting Memory

Eulogy For Our Beloved Father

Our beloved father, Mr. Chi-Moh Tang, was born on March 16, 1922, in our hometown of the Tang Village, West County, Lu-Chiang District, An-Huei Province, China. Our great-grandfather, Mr. Wen-Pu Tang, was a traditional Chinese scholar and founder of a school with students from all over the neighboring districts. Our grandfather, Mr. Bee-Ting Tang, began a life of public service at the age of 18. His loyalty, honesty, and hospitality was well known in our hometown and he was well loved and respected by the people during his 30 plus years of public service in the district, which included serving as the County Administrative Chief, Bank Manager, and Director General of the Chamber of Commerce. During WW II, he raised funds by selling his belongings in order to help people survive the devastation from the war.       

Father had 11 siblings, but only 1 elder brother, 1 elder sister, and 2 younger sisters remained alive after WW II. His elder brother, Mr. Chi-Ding Tang, studied Chinese Literature from the great scholar Mr. Zhang Tai-Yang. Father was also very talented in his studies since childhood. Even when the family was evacuated to western provinces during World War II, he continued his studies in middle and high schools amid hardship in the war-torn country. After the war, father managed to graduate from the National An-Huei University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics. Soon, however, the hometown was stirred up again from the Communist Revolution and father decided to join the Nationalist army and moved to Taiwan with mother and 2 children, one aged 4 (Hsiung-Fei) and the other in infancy (James Tsung-Ying). Life was very hard in those days and mother became ill from homesickness and poor living conditions. After Der-Pu was born, father decided to request a transfer to a services unit, the Army’s Printing and Engraving Works, in order to be close to mother and the children. He stayed in that unit for 21 years and worked his way up to eventually be promoted to full colonel and plant manager in charge of the Works with more than 500 officers and civilian employees. He received many medals in his military career for his excellent service and accomplishments, including improving safety, efficiency, as well as the product quality and profitability of the Works. When he retired from military service he turned over to his successor over 10 million NT$ net profits, an unprecedented amount in the history of the Works.

After military service, father began his second career by forming a partnership to develop a small farming business and, at the same time, teaching in a business high school in central Taiwan. However, 3 years later, he decided to return to Taipei to be close to grandfather who was over 80 years old and in deteriorating health. Father was a traditionalist and his priority was to serve grandfather until grandfather passed away in 1978 at age 84. After that, father went to the island of Peng-Hu and picked up his teaching career again in the Provincial Peng-Hu High School and served as the Business Manager there for 10 more years. Those were his happier time in life, as he was able to spend his holidays returning to Taipei to enjoy reunions with eldest son Hsiung-Fei, daughter-in-law Hai-Yang, and grandchildren Der-Ron and Der-Chen. After retirement from his teaching career, father traveled to Los Angeles and stayed with his youngest son Der-Pu, daughter-in-law Chi-Lang, and grandchildren Daniel and Diana, to enjoy more retirement life in the United States. Second son Tsung-Ying (James), daughter-in-law Edith, and grandson Michael often came to visit during holidays, even during their 7 years of overseas assignment in Southeast Asia. Father also occasionally returned to Taipei for short visits and even made a trip back to his hometown in China to visit his sisters. These years were the best time in his life until 2 years ago, when his health began to deteriorate due to Alzheimer and Parkinson’s illness. A month ago, father suffered a fall and broke his leg. The anesthetics from the surgery complicated his conditions and required additional surgery and treatment in ICU. His suffering was finally over at around 8 PM on January 9, 2003, when he left this Earth in peace.

Father’s selfless character in caring for others’ needs before his own, his hard working style, and strong will in overcoming hardship have all set a remarkable example for his sons, grandchildren and future generations by living a truthful, meaningful, and beautiful life. His eldest son Hsiung-Fei served in the military for over 30 years and is now serving as the Secretary General of the Li-Ming Cultural Development Foundation in Taiwan, after retiring as a Lt. General. Second son Tsung-Ying (Jim) has worked for ExxonMobil for over 25 years and is now providing technical consulting as a specialist in the Asia Pacific. Youngest son Der-Pu is an expert in color separation technology in the printing process and has established his own company in Los Angeles to provide quality service in the printing industry. All 3 daughters-in-law have worked hard to keep their houses in order and raised well-mannered grandchildren. Father should be able to rest in peace knowing that his baton has and will continue to be passed on to generations to come.

As we hold this memorial service for father, we feel a tremendous loss as we miss him deeply. Mother left us 46 years ago when father was only 36 years old. He had to pack up his sorrow and manage to raise 3 young boys all by himself, in addition to caring for grandfather during the early years in Taiwan when supplies were short. His love for his family and devotion to his work demanded long years of endurance, yet he has never complained about the hardship in his life. In our fond memory, father never considered his personal enjoyment and always loved us not only as a father, but also as mother’s substitute. Father, Dad: you’ll always live in our heart and we’ll always love you in everlasting memory….        

To our friends: we are very grateful for your friendship and caring for our father. Your thoughtfulness has warmed our hearts during this time as we hold this memorial service to celebrate father’s life. Our best wishes to you and your loved ones. 

Peace and Love in God,

Hsiung-Fei, Tsung-Ying (Jim), and Der-Pu Tang

Photos of our parents during their early years of exile in Taiwan.

About the Author

James Tang was born in 1948 and was an infant when his parents took him and his elder brother in exile to Taiwan during the CPP takeover of his homeland province Anhui. He left Taiwan and came to the U.S. in 1971 after graduating from college in 1970 and spent a year in a compulsory military service as an instructor in the 1st Army NCO academy. He pursed graduate studies at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his master’s and doctorial degrees. He started working in California as a Professional Engineer in the late 1970s and had a long career with Exxon Mobil for 38 years until his retirement in 2015 as an executive level Senior Engineering Advisor. His work with Exxon Mobil took him and his family to California, Colorado, Thailand, Singapore, Virginia, while providing engineering and optimization support for affiliates in the US, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Australia, Japan, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway. After retirement, he devoted his time in two charity organizations as Founder and CEO: the BigBall Earth caring Humanity Association and the Oneworld Holy Missions. He studied and obtained a TESOL certificate in order to teach ESL in China as part of his charity projects to help the needy. He has also been teaching Taiji Qigong exercises in the city of Walnut in LA for senior citizens as part of the community service.

The photo below is an attachment of the response from Mr. Ma Qing Sheng.

Attachment to the response from 马庆生
December 1990 Family Visit in An Qing City, Anhui Province, China

One Comment on “An Everlasting Memory

  1. 碧波地球@二表哥您好,含泪看完您发来的十八年前守灵夜兄弟叁人祭文”永恒的思念一怀父恩文”真乃杜鹃啼血,字字揪心。二舅舅的音容笑貌又浮现眼前。
    记得那年蒋先生开禁后,二舅是九零年底回大陆,记得那天是鲁凡弟护驾陪送到安庆的,车到学校宿舍门囗时,早已等候的父、母和小姨、姨父拥上前去,兄妹三人抱头大哭,长跪不起,几十年的兄妹相思之苦喷薄而出,观者无不落泪。此情
    此景至今仍历历在目。
    可亲可敬的二舅在我家住了近二十天,每天家里欢声笑语不断,来探望叙旧的亲友络绎不绝,起可、邦彥大哥和起华、起霞姐首先从家乡赶来探望,並谈妥二舅回庐江省亲的有关事宜。记得当时国内很少人家有单独卫生间,母亲怕二舅不习惯,请学校将给外宾使用的单独卫生间给二舅使用。老人家饮食起居很有规律,清晨即起练外丹功,从不间断。白天父、母和姨父、母陪他逛街,寻找青少年时代的记忆;下午就打麻将,有一次一局接连摸四个宝,乐得像个小孩,妈妈在旁连连说:”真是奇了”晚上几位老人家不嫌疲惫促膝谈心,回忆往事和各位親友状况。二舅舅喜欢开玩笑,吃饭时经常把我儿子马超抱在腿上说:”我是老狗,你是小狗,(因他俩都是属狗的)我们坐在一起。”逗得大家哄堂大笑。
    陪同二舅回庐江乐桥省亲时,二舅不慎龙池庵山高路滑,坚决婉拒我们搀扶,亲临袓宗墓地祭拜。给婆婆立碑时,老人家一直长跪不起,嘴里喃喃不已,泪湿衣襟,此情
    此景,令在场亲友感动不已。
    记得当年在合肥骆岗机场送别二舅时,他一再告知送行的亲人们,过几年一定再回大陸,可言语犹在耳边,亲人却天人永隔。怎不令人悲痛不已。二表哥们的十八年前祭文,勾起我无尽的思念,啰啰嗦嗦写下这些。水平有限,乞谅。

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