2023’s Christmas Letters from Margaret W. Wong and Rose Wong

by | Dec 24, 2023 | Firm News

Dear all my friends and family,

Grace, gratitude, and love.

I want to wish you the very best for the holiday season. A few weeks ago, we gave thanks for our family and country, and for being blessed by being in this place at this time. I’m so honored to be practicing immigration law for nearly 50 years. I love my job, more so now than ever, with the ever-changing landscape. It’s just as exciting today as it was when I started. My cases today are more challenging, my colleague attorneys are experts at what they do. I am learning so much from them. And my team at our seven offices help thousands of clients every year. So much to learn, and so much to do.

Each January 1, I take some time to reflect on my lifelong journey, and where I have yet to go. It’s great to be a working person at my age of 73. I have 3 grandchildren now. When it comes to family, you change your attitude from one of intensity to one of grace, gratitude, and love. Grace is an attitude of quiet elegance of mind – which you especially need when holding young children, comforting them while they are feeling what they’re feeling. Gratitude and love follow easily. When I was younger, it was harder with family, children, and parents. Now, being alone I have all the time in the world to do what I want to do.

I celebrate my grandchildren, and the grand nieces and nephews. The oldest just turned 4 this year, and I cannot believe how grown up she is. I am in awe of the young parents in our family. It’s so wonderful to visit my son and daughter in their respective cities, in the homes they have provided for their families, just as Kam and I have done in Cleveland. Just as Mom and Dad did back home.

A year ago, our law firm invited our colleagues and their families from our other offices to Cleveland to have a 2-day seminar, a dinner, and a lunch. The law firm now has fourteen attorneys and some 65-support staff. My colleagues are from all over the world: China and Philippines; Ghana and Nigeria; Central and South America; Singapore and France and Poland and Albania and, well so many other countries. I am proud of our hardworking and happy family.

We are continuing to win cases and doing impactful and inspirational work that changes people’s lives. It’s cool. Thank God for the grace we are granted. We give thanks, and show our neighbors all the love we have, helping them as we have been taught.

Peace to you and your families.

Margaret W. Wong


 

Dearest Dad,

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is almost here!

Christmas is only a hop, skip, and a jump away, with 2024 following close behind, and then Chinese New Year just around the corner. With everything going on in our lives and the world beyond, we could all use some holiday cheer (and maybe a bit of holiday magic) right about now.

This year has brought with it a number of unprecedented challenges, and I struggle to put into words the maelstrom of thoughts and feelings of these past several months. But they say a picture is worth a thousand words… and if I were to choose an image to best depict my emotional state, it would be Edvard Munch’s The Scream. But – contrary to popular belief – the figure in this painting is not, in fact, screaming. In the 1895 version of this iconic artwork, Munch inscribed at the bottom: Ich fühlte das grosse Geschrei durch die Natur (rough English translation: “I felt the great scream throughout nature”). That is to say, the scream is actually coming from the figure’s surroundings, and he is merely trying to block out the shriek of nature around him.

Yes – that’s how it has felt – from the moment my husband Bernie fell in July, which led to the discovery of a large meningioma (a benign tumor that was pressing on his brain); to surgery; an extended ICU stay with complications from surgery; discharged to a skilled-nursing facility; more complications requiring re-hospitalization; then discharged to a long-term acute-care hospital (who knew something like this even existed?); fighting to get him into acute rehab; and then finally transitioning back home (with 24/7 care and home-based therapies)… all in just a little over 3 months.

Before all this, I thought I was prepared for whatever the universe could throw at me. But that feels like a lifetime ago. I have been humbled by the whirlwind of the past few months, during which we had to adjust quite quickly to all of life’s curveballs and learn how to roll with the medical punches with minimal trauma. Gone was the luxury of asking “what if…?”; there was barely enough time for us to digest “what is.” I guess life has a way of sneaking up on us.

Dad, I remember the stories you told of the war – how you had to sleep under corpses to avoid being detected by enemies; that you had to eat tree bark to survive the bitter winters; that the fervent hope of one day being able to eat a bowl of steaming white rice spurred you on through many a sleepless night. And, in my formative years, I watched as you endured hardship after hardship; yet, you still had the capacity to shower us with warmth and affection. On days when life feels oppressive and all seem bleak, I wish so much to have just a tiny bit of your unyielding strength, or to learn the secret as to how you persisted through all those trying times.

I remember you used to say: “Wallowing in self-pity only weakens your resolve and slows your stride. Life gets easier if you know that everything you do brings joy to those you love.” On a visceral level, I completely agree.

Paradoxically, no picture or words can express the depth of gratitude I feel every day. Amid all the darkness, my heart has been overwhelmed by the constant encouragement, prayers, and well-wishes from friends near and far. When Bernie was in the hospital and not yet able to speak, my niece, Stephanie, and her family, my daughter Theresa and her family would FaceTime us and sing him Beatles songs (Bernie’s favorite band); they were immeasurable acts of kindness and love that brightened some of the darkest days. And I will never cease to be amazed by the support of my wonderful siblings and their dogged devotion to making our lives more manageable. Cecilia has been here with Bernie almost every day; George and Lily spend an inordinate amount of time cooking for everyone, so we never have to worry about meals; and Margaret somehow makes time in her busy schedule to come spend time with us (occasionally straight from the airport), and even goes to pick up carryout from Bernie’s favorite restaurants.Throughout the various hospital/rehab stays, they were gracious enough to have our weekly family dinners in the different facility cafeterias/lobbies; and now Wednesday night dinners are at our home for our convenience. Last but not least, kudos to my daughter Catherine, who is Bernie’s constant cheerleader, advocate, medical advisor, medication updater and most importantly, sports buddy and score keeper.

Dad, this will be the 27th year you are not here with us to celebrate Christmas. I can almost picture you and mom preparing for a spectacular holiday celebration with all the loved ones that have left us to join you, but, though there is some solace in knowing that you are in good company, I still miss you as much as the day you left.

Your third daughter, Rose
Christmas 2023