1: Your mom was born on November 12, 1970 in Hong Kong. Her parents moved near Reedley, California shortly after she was born.
3: 7 and 8 1/2 years later, your mom had 2 little sisters, Auntie Vicky and Auntie Jennifer
4: The years went by...
6: Dear Lauren and Katie I met your mom over 12 years ago (around 2000) working at the california campus of California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. I am a physical therapist and your mom worked there as a Speech Pathologist. We had a lot of interesting and fun times at work and I especially enjoyed all the “cheap eats” your mom, Auntie Susan and Uncle Vernon found in the city. Your mom was always the heart of the group, making everyone laugh with her wonderful skill of story telling and her infectious laugh. She did a great job of embarrassing my husband Brian and I with a silly poem at my wedding. When your Mom and Dad moved to Park City, our cheap eats group was never the same. Brian and I had a couple great visit to beautiful Park City before you two were born. My favorite memory was your mom and almost getting stuck on the mountain as it was starting to get dark. Neither one of us were that proficient in the snow and when we had to take a switch back down the mountain; I think we were both pretty traumatized. But only for a minute, until we found everyone in the lodge drinking cocoa. I think we even went back up the mountain and did some night skiing.
7: We didn’t get to see your mom and dad very much over the years after our babies were born, but she was never far from my thoughts. Christmas cards and facebook posts kept us in touch and every time I saw them, I told myself we need to go out for a visit. I remember thinking your mom was a superwoman, traveling on a plane with the 2 of you under 2 years old. I don’t think I took my two kids on a plane until they were 5 and 6. I’m so glad you all made the trip out to San Francisco a few months before your mom passed. It was wonderful seeing you all and having our group back together. Your mom was truly a gift to her friends and family. She impacted more lives than she or you two will ever know. We love you all and will always be here for you two and your dad. Love always, Monica, Brian, Sydney, & Landon Sasaki | Sydney, Katie, & Lauren
8: Dear Lauren & Katie, When our mom found out your mom was sick, I made this card. I sent it, hoping it would make her feel at least a little better. Love, Sydney & Landon Sasaki
9: from god knows what that looked nothing like corn dogs. It was hysterical watching Debbie react to each and every "homemade" corn dog that was presented to her.From that day forward, I learned that Debbie had a witty and quick sense of humor, one you would never suspect from her. Her sense of humor led to naming me Pierce, cause that is what I "looked like" to her. From then on I was always known as Pierce and I wouldn't have it any other way. Debbie, you will be missed but never forgotten Keith (Pierce) | My fondest memory of Debbie was her first baby shower. It was actually the first time I met her too! Her cravings for Hot Dog on a Stick during her pregnancy led to a brilliant idea by Susan Lee to have everyone create their own hot dog on a stick for a mobile for the baby's room. Upon attending the shower, all I could think was this poor child will grow up with this mobile of "corn dogs" made | Keith and Stephen
10: Dear Lauren and Katie, Ron and I do not know your mom as well as Auntie Susan and others that worked with her but we know her well enough to know she was a very good mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Here is my last letter to her. We had a joke between us that I was her second mother because when we went shopping one time, I think it was in New York, that the salesperson thought she was my daughter. So, we laughed about it, and she would of been a good daughter. Always remember she loved you both very, very much. Please stay in touch. Your dad knows our contact info. My best, Beverly Chooey | Monica, Joanne, Stephen, Bev, & Susan
11: Hi Debbie, Just wanted to let you know that we are all thinking of you. It was really great that Susan shared you and your family with Ron and I. She often talked about you before we met. She told me that you were a crazy, fun-loving person that was smart and charming. When I finally got to meet you, I agreed with everything she said. It was easy having you as a friend. I guess we hit it off right away. When I think of what you are going through, I remember when I was disabled 40 years ago. I had fallen down and was disabled for one year. I could not walk or even move my arms up past my shoulders. Ron had to carry me into the bathtub to bathe, and we even had to stay at his parent's house for eight months since he had to work. His parents waited on me hand and foot. They were so good to me. Ron was very understanding and patient with me too. We had just gotten married that year. I was in bad shape. With the support and love from Ron and his parents, I was determined to get through it all. I had to take acupuncture everyday for one year so that I could even walk again. My legs and feet were so swollen I was not able to walk for months. I prayed that I would get well. Here I am today. I was proud of myself for hanging in there. I am proud of you too. You have a caring husband and two beautiful daughters. You have a car and a beautiful house. Basically, you achieved the American Dream. That is not too shabby. I am proud to have you as a friend. It has been great receiving your Christmas cards every year watching your girls grow up. It was so gratifying to see them at our dinner last month. I am sure they are a joy to be around. I am glad you were able to build your new house. It looked beautiful in the pictures. I am so glad you were able to make the trip to San Francisco. It was great seeing you. Also, I will never forget when someone thought you were my daughter. If you were my real daughter, I would be proud to call you "my daughter." So, just know you have done good--you are a good wife, a loving and dedicated mother, a thoughtful daughter, and a great friend to all. You are amazing! Stay strong, and know that we all love you and cherish your friendship. Kisses to the girls and a big hug for Lester. With love, Bev (your other mother) and Ron Lester, continue taking good care of our Debbie.
12: With some of her friends at Mclane High School in Fresno, California Photos from Wendie Lam Cheng
13: More photos from high school as you can see from her photos, your mom was a big ham :)
14: I remember going to her mom's house and eating pot stickers and other good yummy stuff. Her two younger sisters Jennifer and Vicki seemed so young back then. Your mom and I would hang out in her bedroom upstairs and listen to music all day. She had a lot of stuff in her bedroom (especially shoes) and I just remember it being the biggest room ever! We were apart for one year after Tehipiti- during our freshman year in high school. She went to Fresno High and I went to McLane High. But in my Sophomore year we reconnected when I went to Fresno High. The photo on the previous page with your mom in white was taken at Fresno High when we decided to ditch class one day and goof around. Mostly it was Debbie goofing around! :). As you can see, she was such a fun person to hang out with and such a ham in front of the camera. We only ditched class like once- we took school very seriously! Seriously! :) The next year, I decided to go back to McLane and your mom decided to come along too for the ride. Back then, Ska was big in our little town and several of our friends were in the band Let's Go Bowling- so you could say we were a little mod (or at least wannabes). | Dear Lauren and Kate, I knew your mom since we were in Middle School. I first met her during a Volleyball game between our schools in elementary school and thought "wow- she is a real snob.." Who knew that a year later when we went to Tehipiti Middle School that we would become best friends. Back then, we were both crazy about Duran Duran (now-a-days it's Justin Bieber? One Direction?). We both even had our hair cuts like John Taylor- which was not a good cut for Middle School girls :). Two years we spent hanging out with Indira Kumar, Laura Flores, and a gang of buddies.
15: Mexico Trip 1993-94? with Laura, Wendie, Loanne, Thavone, Debbie | In high school- she had a dream of becoming a lounge singer or TV Anchor and I believe if she would have pursued singing/acting she would be famous by now! Once she had me listen to her sing "The Rainbow Connection (Kermit)" and she sounded so much better than the original. We both ended up going to Fresno State and both majored in Business and that is where she met your dad. College was full of days spent studying at the student union and hanging out. See the picture on bottom right- your mom's hair started getting bigger and bigger in her senior year in high school and into college. We had great times there and at Bando-ya Japanese Restaurant where we both worked. Your dad worked there too. She would always complain that your dad Lester was the worst busboy ever, but I think it was because she secretly liked him. Your mom was so smart, sassy, goofy, sometimes moody :), and such a blast to be around. We took many trips together- Carmel, Las Vegas, Reno, and even Mexico. When we both became moms, we would meet up every once in a while to hang out at my or her house.
16: Of all the years I've known your mom, she was the happiest when she had you girls. I could tell that that was her calling- to be a great mother to two wonderful and cute girls. She loved your dad very much- I could tell cause she would still laugh at his jokes even after being together for so many years :). Here are some more recent photos of your mom and some of you girls too. My kids (Michael and Marissa) loved visiting you gals at your house. Lauren and Kate, be strong like your mom, and know that your mom loved you two sooo very much. We all miss your mom very much. Please keep in touch with your non-related Cheng's (us!). Also take care of your daddy :). Love, Auntie Wendie
17: Little munchkins on the slopes: Marissa, Kate, Lauren, & Michael | Park City, Utah
19: Some more fun photos of your mom in high school from Wendie Lam Cheng | Senior prom 1988
20: Your mom started working at CPMC as a Speech Pathologist in 1999? She was a great friend to all of us | Debbie was a great friend of my Auntie Susan Lee. I met Debbie from all the potluck parties my Auntie Susan threw and was lucky enough to meet Debbie. Debbie was full of life and had tons of energy. Even though I didn't know her as well as others, I felt as if I've known her for years. She was just as loud as I was when telling stories. She was a hoot. She would laugh so hard, it would make me laugh. She was a great person and I'll always remember her joyful laugh. Love, Tracie Chooey | We used to go out in a group to eat dinner and Debbie would eat and eat. How such a small person could eat so much and stay so small. Her energy, spirit and enthusiasm was known to all. Marianne Clough
21: On November, 11, 2012 a group of your mom's friends got together in San Francisco to have a little memorial or tribute to Debbie. Vernon wrote a few words to share with us. | When Susan first asked me to say a few words or a prayer for our little gathering to remember our friendships with Debbie, I searched my brain for inspiration. The Bible seemed like a good place to start. Psalms 23 came to mind: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters,3 he refreshes my soul.He guides me along the right paths for his namesake.4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a]I will fear no evil,for you are with me;your rod and your staff,they comfort me.
22: However, I don’t remember Debbie being all the religious. I also felt to become so religious on this day of remembrance and celebration would give Stephen bad flashbacks to his upbringing. I then went to the movies for inspiration. Forrest Gump. "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Debbie definitely was theatrical and would have been great in the movies. We would all be one of those pieces of chocolates that made up Debbie’s circle of friends. Some of us would be the dark or milk chocolate, others the nut clusters, or maybe even the fruit center. Julie would probably be the token white chocolate. Personally, I am not all that into chocolates. | I thought about the great philosophers Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius. Confucius says, “where ever you go, go with all of your heart.” Debbie gave all of our friendships 100% of her heart. Each of us has our own personal memories of how she touched our lives. I really felt I was onto something with this train of thought, but it just did not inspire me enough. Maybe it was because these philosophers all lived over 2000 years ago, walked around in robes, and really had very little in common with Debbie. Well, I guess Confucius was Chinese which could relate well to Debbie’s and her family’s roots. Still this was not enough. I looked for inspiration in more traditional literature and remembered this quote: “Don’t cry because it is over. Smile because it happened.” We are not here to cry. We are here to smile and laugh over all the happy times. However, it seemed disrespectful to sum up Debbie’s life and our relationships with her with a quote from a cat in a hat (Dr. Suess). I am not sure Debbie liked cats all that much and Joy is allergic to them.
23: For many of us, this deeper relationship started with the jook party at Carol’s place. Jook or rice porridge can be such a simple dish of just white rice and water boiled in a pot. This is how friendships start-simple. Sometimes the friendship grows when salt and white pepper is added into the mix. However, I am sure we are all here today because our friendship grew beyond the rice, water, salt, and pepper stage. The jook we made that day at Carole’s did not start with just water. We boiled duck and turkey carcasses overnight-carefully removing the fat. This is the foundation of a great friendship. It takes time to build while you overlook each other’s flaws. | Finally, it dawned on me. Yes, most of us knew each other through our work at CPMC. But our lives were forever bonded by our love of food. It was the regular dinner club, potlucks, dim sum at Canton (mom and sisters), travel to different cities (New York, Chicago) for the next best dish. We shared grilled cheese sandwiches, deep dish pizza, spam, Bibambap, hot dogs, hamburgers, roast duck, chicken adobo, Kare Kare, roast turkey with all the fixings, and so much more. Just like the people in this room, it was the variety that added the spice in life. Our relationships with Debbie had all those spices.
24: Then the rice was added to this deep and rich broth-stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the pot. Friendship must be nurtured, otherwise it gets stuck in a rut and cannot develop into something more lasting or tasty. Friendships are an important part of life. They should not remain stagnate. It always is more interesting if things are added to the foundation. Here are my thoughts on the different condiments that can be added. | - Green Onions and Cilantro: Just the perfect amount of spice, but not enough to get into trouble. - Preserved Duck Egg: Black like tar. Consistency of Jello on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside. Many find the outside offsetting but the inside delicious. Like your mother always said, “don’t just judge a book from it’s cover”. - Salted Egg: Sometimes, things are not what they seem to be. It looks like a hardboiled egg but if you are not prepared, the intense saltiness can cause discomfort. Sometimes friendships get awkward. - Fermented Soy Bean Paste: Just the description alone causes some pretty funny faces and dramatic words. Once you acquire the taste, there is nothing else like it in the world. Friends are acquired. It is not always that you click on the first impressions. (Stick in the ass)
25: -Bamboo Shoots: Sometimes you need that crunch to offset the mush and refresh the palate. Sometimes you need a break from the ordinary (routine) -Fish Slices: Delicious usually but sometimes you are surprised by that hidden bone that stabs the inside of your mouth. Good friends are not perfect, but there is always more good than bad times. -Fish Balls: These are not easy to create. You start with fish meat, mix in spices then mash it into a paste. You form little balls and add it to the jook. With the correct consistency and temperature, they will remain intact. Fish balls are temperamental just like relationships. | Sometimes you spend too much or little time together. Actions are taken the wrong way. Words choice is poor. However, no matter if the fish balls remain intact or break apart, the bottom line is that with good raw ingredients, it still taste great and works out in the end. -Fried Dough: Who doesn’t love something fried. This represents the extremely happy times. So as you can see, friendship is like rice porridge. You can keep as simple or make it as complex as you like. You can treat it as a basic need or crave it like a favorite food. You can chose to savor it over time or swallow in one bite.
26: Personally, I feel we are all here today because our friendship with Debbie and each other is more than simple rice porridge. We have chosen to add the different condiments which have enhanced the flavor of this friendship. We want to savor the memories and crave the moments.
28: Your mom and I learned how to be mother's together. You were her happiness and joy. Look at her love for you!
29: You are beautiful and strong girls Lauren and Katie and you get so much of your beauty and strength from your mom.
30: Dear Lauren and Kate, There is a seven and a half year difference between your mom and and I. Jennifer and I are closer in age. When we were growing up I can remember your mom being much older and she could go out with her friends, while the little sisters had to stay home. We lived in a two bedroom house and her | room was upstairs. Jennifer and I would love to up to her room and go through her things when she was out with her friends. We were the "little sisters" and so we did what little sisters do, which is rummage through your older sister's belongings. I can remember your mom taking me to the mall, movies, and even chaperoning for a 6th grade field trip to an amusement park. In a way, Debbie, was like a mom to Jennifer and I because Gung Gung and Po Po were busy running the restaurant. As time passed your mom would out of town with her friends and I can still recall her bringing home souvenirs. She never forgot about her little sisters. Your mom was always a bright, funny, honest person, and she was a hard worker. She was always put 100% in what she did. I always looked up to her and she was a wonderful role model to me. She
31: would help me when I was feeling down. If I was feeling negative, she would find all these positive things to help me realize that thing were not as bad as I thought it was. At first I may not have agreed with what she said, but soon enough I would come to find that what she explained to me was true. Shopping is something of the many things she was good at. She would help me pick out clothes because my fashion sense is not up to date. It was a natural for her to pick things out for people and other's would ask for her opinion. Debbie choose items effortlessly, unlike myself. I always asked for a second opinion from her. I always laughed when I was around her. She would always come up with something funny to say. It could be that all of us three sisters were together and we were thinking of the same thing about someone and she would be the first person to say something out loud. I remember our Christmas visit together. We took Roxy for a walk and I can remember seeing a cat across the street. Debbie said, "Oh a cat.
32: I want to see a fight!" All I could do was laugh and think, "No you did not just say that and Roxy will not be in that fight." Your mom was also good at whatever she wanted to do. I can remember her working as a salesperson at Macy's. She worked in the coats department and she was the top seller for London Fog coats. As a result, she earned herself one. Debbie could work any job she would get bored of the job because she did whatever was asked of her quicker than others could. Everyone knows that your mom was a wonderful person. She got along with anyone she came across with. I always loved how she was optimistic. Debbie taught me a lot about life and I will never forget her wisdom and advice that she has given me throughout the years. There will be any other role model like her for me. Your mom definitely was one of a kind. Love, Auntie Vicky