mei-chiliau
Mei-Chi Liau was born on November 26, 1930, to the Lo Family of Hu-Kou (湖⼜⼜) in Shin-hu, Taiwan. Even though she was the fourth child among the twelve children, she was the eldest sister in the family. The younger siblings call her Dajie (⼤姊) with respect, admiration and appreciation. Since she was very young, she was always willing to help Mother with chores and care for the younger siblings - cooking, feeding, washing, laundry, and etc… After graduating from Shin-Chu Girls’ High School, she started to teach herself how to sew, how to knit, and how to play harmonica. When the two youngest sisters wore the little dresses she made to the elementary school, all the classmates admired them and thought they are the most adorable girls in the world. In 1951, she married Mr. Yun-Hau Liau, a Teaching Assistant at National Taiwan University and moved to Taipei. They lived frugally with the five younger Liau siblings, with responsibility of cooking, washing, and maintaining a household with one very small salary. But they thrived and even had lots of fun of exploring how to make noodles, dumplings, and youtiao (油條, Chinese fritters) by hand and the end results were always very delicious. During those difficult time, she still did not forget the younger siblings at home in Hu-Kou. She would invite the younger siblings every summer to join them for hiking in Yangmingshan (陽明⼭⼭), rowing boat in Bitan (碧潭) or visiting Taipei Natural History Museum. In 1958, She had a son, Eugene. She was overjoyed! Ever since that time, Eugene had became the center of her life. In 1967, Mei-Chi, with Eugene, moved to Saskatoon to join her husband, who had studied for his Ph.D. at the University of Saskatchewan. Again, life with a graduate student stipend was not easy. But, they were still very kind and generous to host weekend get-together for the Chinese students study there frequently. Years later, even now, some of those students still remember how nice and generous they were and what a good cook she was. After getting his Ph.D., Dr Liau worked briefly in Chicago, then went back to National Taiwan University as Assistant Professor. They had very comfortable housing provided by the university. Due to Mei-Chi concern of Eugene’s future wellbeing, they decided to come back to US a year later, even without a job prospect. So they decided to stay with her sister (Helena) and brother-in-law’s (Jimmy Chen) house. While Dr. Liau was looking for a job, Mei-Chi would take care of 3-month old niece (Carrie). A year or two later, Dr. Liau found a Research Associate position in New York Medical School, so they moved to Westchester, New York. Mei-Chi was happy to find a job at the kitchen of local hospital. The job was physically demanding, but she continue to work there for another 10 years. In 1988, Dr. Liau’s job moved to Rutger’s Medical School in New Jersey, and she retired from her job in the hospital. In 1993, Dr. Liau also retired from his job. For the next 10 years during their life in New Jersey, it was one of the most enjoyable time in their life. At this point, they were financially secure, she taught herself how to swim at age 65, son got married, had grandchildren. She was so happy when the grandchildren were born, and flew to Torrance to care for the newborns and the daughter-in-law. In 1998, Dr Liau was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away. Mei-Chi was devastated. After two years of grieving, with the encouragement of her sisters, they took a trip to China. When she climbed the Great wall of China, she smiled and said it was one of the high point (literally) in her life. For the next few years, she would travel with her sisters to Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Yosemite National Park, Redwood National Park and Crater Lake. In 2003, at age of 73, she moved to Torrance to depend on her son in her old age, because she believed that was a Chinese tradition. She was diagnosed with diabetes in 2006, and she had become frail and had difficulty walking. She passed away unexpectedly on January 8, 2019. As we bid farewell to Mei-Chi, let us celebrate her life, a life full of love, kindness, caring, generosity, endurance, perseverance, and joyful experiences.

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  1. I will miss 大阿姨 dearly but will also keep many happy memories of our time with her. I remember playing at her house in Katonah when I was very small, even camping for the first time in her backyard! Then, we saw her more when she moved to NJ, I learned to play mah-jong and got to swim in her neighborhood pool, while we ate her delicious food. I especially remember a tasty soup with little dumpling/doughy balls that I haven’t eaten since. She would also go crabbing by the Jersey Shore, and we would eat crabs all summer long. Even though we did not see her as much after she moved to California, we were glad that she was happy with Eugene and his family. She would talk with my mom on how my kids were growing up, especially Kira, who she called 洋娃娃! We were glad that Niko and Kira could have dinner with her a couple years ago when we visited southern California.

    Thank you for all the love, delicious food, and wonderful memories 大阿姨! You will live on in our memories and we will teach our children about your important role in our lives. Rest in peace.

    Love always,
    Vicki, Dirk, Niko, and Kira

  2. Eulogy for my Da Auntie (Aiyi)- spoken on January 21, 2019

    I am honored to say a few words about my Da Auntie who was my favorite aunt and a second mother to me.

    As you all know, Da Auntie took care of me when I was a 3 month old baby for almost 2 years when my mom had to go back to work. At that time my Uncle had to leave Taiwan right away and find a job in the U.S. so he could get his green card. My mom offered to have Da Auntie, Uncle and Eugene stay with us for about 2 years while Uncle tried to establish himself in the U.S. Da Auntie watched me every single day for the next 2 yrs.

    When I was growing up on the East Coast, we still got together with Da Auntie, Uncle, Eugene and Auntie Fung-Mei, Uncle Chee-Kok, Vicki and Kelly for many Thanksgivings, Christmas’, 3 day weekends, school breaks and summers. I always loved going to my Da Auntie’s house, where there was always delicious homemade food and a hug and kiss waiting for me.

    Da Auntie was a good wife, mother, sister, and aunt.

    She was kind and loving, generous and smart, strong-willed and stubborn, and loyal and affectionate. She was close to her sisters and brothers and always remembered to call on the exact day of their birthdays. She and her sisters (my aunties were very close) called each other frequently.

    Da Auntie was creative and talented in many ways.

    1. She was a phenomenal cook. I will always remember rolling sticky rice balls with my hands and making dumplings at the table for dinner. She knew how to make special Hakka food and she loved eating good food!
    2. She was an excellent knitter and made many beautiful sweaters and hats for herself and family. Her amazing skill in knitting was that she did not need to follow any instructions. She designed the shape, size, and patterns all in her head.
    3. She was good at fishing. She had an acute sense of when the fish was biting and would reel the fishline in quickly with a big smile on her face. I still remember fishing with her and her telling me about how butterfish was her favorite fish to eat.
    4. She had a good voice. She sang many Japanese songs and lullabies to Eugene when he was a baby.
    5. She was a self-taught genius. Like cooking, sewing and knitting, she taught herself how to play harmonica when she was young and played very well.
    6. She loved to play Mah-jong and played to win! And she was a very good Mah-jong player! I remember playing hours of Mah-Jong with her as a child trying to beat her.
    7. She had an amazing vegetable garden. She successfully grew Chinese vegetables and even made her own fence and enclosure so it was safe from birds and animals when she lived in New York and New Jersey.
    8. She was multi-lingual. She taught herself to speak Fujian, Mandarin and English. She learned how to speak English from watching TV and working for many years in a hospital kitchen. She also learned bad words in English too which she used to get her point across!
    9. She was a good talker. Even though English was not her first language she spoke well to others in English. She would say things in a way that made people feel good about themselves.
    10. Da Auntie was good with money. She lived just as frugally as she did at the end of her life even though she didn’t need to anymore.

    Da Auntie loved watching NBA (professional) basketball games. Her favorite player was Michael Jordon of the Chicago Bulls. She had a life size poster of him on the wall in NJ and at night she would say, “Good night, handsome man!” I think she secretly had a crush on him.

    When Eugene asked my mom and I to pick out an outfit for her, we picked out a beautiful sweater that she had knitted herself that had her favorite colors in it: purple and pale green. We gave her her reading classes to read, Auntie Fung-Mei gave her a purple blanket to keep her warm, her own fan to keep her cool and her mah-jong set to play with Uncle again.

    My Da Aunties greatest pleasures toward the end of her life was keeping in touch with aunties over the phone, watching sports on tv, going out to lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant to eat good food, playing Mah-jong and trying to beat all of us. She enjoyed eating freshly picked oranges, dragon fruit, passion fruit from my mom’s backyard in San Diego. She had trouble walking very far without a cane and felt more comfortable with a person walking beside her.

    About a month ago, my mom, dad and I drove up to visit Da Auntie and celebrate our November birthdays together. We ate out, played Mah-jong and helped her walk to the community pool and back for exercise. I will always remember her looking so happy to see us in her purple sweater.

    By example, she taught me how to be strong, kind, and affectionate. She always saw the good in people. And she was never afraid of speaking her mind.

    So I want to end by reading a poem to my Da Auntie which describes how I feel:

    I close my eyes as I wipe a tear.
    I just keep wishing you were still here.
    I will hold all the memories deep in my heart.
    Through these memories we’ll never part.

    I close my eyes as I wipe a tear.
    I just keep wishing this pain would disappear.
    I didn’t get the chance to say my last goodbye.
    I just didn’t think you could ever die.

    I close my eyes as I wipe a tear.
    All of your love I will always hold near.
    So for now, I will say goodbye,
    And see you in the heaven at a future time.

    I love you, Da Auntie.

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