Rose passed away in August 2016. About a month earlier, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She started daily radiation treatments a few days after her 95th birthday. The purpose was to ease her symptoms and slow down progression of the disease.
Things were going as expected for the first three weeks. However, she developed pain, fatigue, and digestion problems starting on July 29-30. By Sunday July 31, she was bedridden and could no longer speak. She took an ambulance to the hospital, where they gave her hydration through an IV, and pain medication. By that evening, she was feeling better and was able to speak. She even made a joke. When the doctor asked "What other health problems does she have?", she waved her hand and said "Old age!"
After running some tests, the doctor told us that the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs. This was affecting her liver function and caused an infection. We told him that Rose did not want extraordinary life-saving efforts, and Rose was able to confirm this verbally. He administered antibiotics to treat the infection, but the underlying cause would sooner or later cause a similar life-threatening event. We all agreed that we would look into hospice care the next morning. The doctor put Rose in Intensive Care for the night. Gray and E.J. said goodbye and left for the evening.
About 8:50 AM the next morning, E.J. got a call from the hospital saying that her condition had worsened and that he and K.T. should go to the hospital right away. By the time E.J. and K.T. arrived at 9:15, and Gray shortly after that, she was already gone. Through tears, K.T. said that his prayers for a quick and painless passing were answered. He thanked God for her lifetime of 95 years, and 69 years of marriage.
Following Rose's wishes, there was no funeral or memorial service, but there was a "celebration of life" event later that month.
Julie's email sent to Gray from Romania:
Are you going to see mom now? I tried to call her and nurse said mom was moaning and unable to speak. If mom is on her deathbed could you please give her my message:
Mom you have loved me so well and I love you more than anything or anyone. the love you have always given me is being passed down to the next generation of loving grandchildren. I am blessed to have such a good mother and I will miss you terribly. I love you.
And please squeeze her hand for me.
Gray, Julie just called from Romania to tell us the news about your mother. She was a warm, loving, inspiring, person with an indomitable spirit. We are mourning here too, Mark and I, and we wanted to send you our love, and understanding. Having just find through this with my mom, I know how wrenching it is, no matter how prepared you think you are. Love to you, Ana, and the girls.
From Barbara & Al:
Dear Uncle KT,
We are so sad to hear about our beloved Aunt Rose. You know how much we love her. With her charm and the twinkle in her eye she lit up every room she entered. She was always warm, and loving, and kind, and sincere, and incredibly intelligent, and just the most beautiful person ever. She is always in our hearts; we all love her so much.
We love you as well and wish we were there to hug you and hold you in our arms. We are so glad that Aunt Rose had such a happy, good life, always in your beautiful home together with you. We are very grateful we were there in June to see her lively, intelligent, and sparkling. That is how we always think of her. We love you.
Albert, Barbara, and Jordan
From Leo to Rose & KT's family:
Throughout my life, your family has been there to help me, guide me, and take care of me. I will always be grateful.
Aunt Rose and Uncle KT have spent the last 30 years bringing friends and relatives together in Saratoga. Their kindness and generosity are known globally as they routinely welcome guests from all over. From art lessons to garage sale trips to large dinner gatherings, Saratoga has been a gathering place for decades. Our lives are all richer for Aunt Rose's lovely personality and spirit. We will miss her but will celebrate her life, her sense of humor, her creativity, her love of good food.
When Karen and I got married in 1993, we needed some cover art for our Mass booklet. Rose drew a pair of birds and KT wrote "a match made in heaven" in Chinese. We believe it's one of the first times they've collaborated on art.
From Miranda and Dominic:
Dear Uncle KT,
We express our deepest condolences. We are going to celebrate Auntie Rose's beautiful 95 years of her life. We all loved her warm personality and generosity. Thank you for opening your lovely home for the parties and gatherings throughout the years. They were very memorable through her life as well as ours. We still have a lot of the artistic dried flowers cards and Chinese painting T-shirts made by Auntie Rose. We will treasure them forever.
Tribute to Rose from Mei-Mei (Rosanna Sommers)
Letter from Rose to Gray 1990
Audio Recordings from 2009
Rose talks about her childhood, 15 minutes (14 MB MP3 file)
Rose talks about college and WWII, 33 minutes (30 MB MP3 file)
Rose talks about religion, 6 minutes (6 MB MP3 file)
Celebration of Life for Rose Chang
There was a "Celebration of Life" open house at Rose & K.T.'s home on Saturday, August 27 to share memories about the life of Rose. There were no scheduled events or speakers. Snacks and light refreshments were served. Dress was informal; many wore a T-shirt painted by Rose, and dozens of her pianted T-shirts, bonsai clay pottery, and dried-flower greeting cards were given away.
From Zuo Qihua
We 3 kids were lucky to have been raised by Rose Chang, Mom; it was sort of like winning the Lottery of Life. Her loving kindness spread through a vast network of family and friends throughout the world -- including her native land after a gap of 25 years (made possible when President Nixon re-opened the door to China). I will always miss her. But keeping in mind her admonition not to wallow in sorrow, I show my filial piety by remembering her good qualities and trying to emulate some of them.
From Bruce Tunley (Rose's second cousin in New Zealand)
As soon as I heard of Rose's death I thought the following NZ Maori proverb:
Kua hinga te totara i te wao nui a Tane
A totara has fallen in the forest of Tane.
A totara is a huge NZ native tree that grows for hundreds of years. For one of them to fall is a great tragedy. Tane is the god of the forest. This proverb is said when someone of importance passes away.
Dear Uncle KT and family,
I was so terribly sorry to hear about the loss of Aunt Rose. She was immensely warm and generous, sturdy of spirit, unflagging in her optimism. She was also an artist, a creator of beauty. The photos on the website are wonderful, and I am especially moved by the picture of her artist's work space. I will always remember and miss her, and send my heartfelt love to you.