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'I'm Old Enough To Do What I Like,' 87-Year-Old Tells Family

May 10, 2015
Originally published on May 8, 2015 1:03 pm

Kay Wang — an admittedly stubborn woman — chatted with her son and granddaughter at StoryCorps a few weeks before she passed away from liver cancer. (This piece initially aired on July 18, 2008, on Morning Edition).

This Mother's Day, StoryCorps wants you to sit down to interview or remember your mom on Sunday using their new StoryCorps app.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On Friday mornings we hear from StoryCorps. And today, just ahead of Mother's Day, we revisit a conversation that first aired on this program in 2008. It's with three generations of the Wang family. Kay Wang was 87 when she reluctantly answered questions from her son Cheng and granddaughter Chen. Kay had a reputation for being strong-willed, a reputation she earned as a child.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KAY WANG: I wasn't very nice. If I make a mistake, my mother - she make me apologize. And our custom, when you apologize to your mother, you have to bring a cup of tea and say I'm sorry. But I purposefully dropped that hot cup of tea in my mother's lap. And I wasn't a good student. I always lied to get out of school because a lot of boyfriends after me.

(LAUGHTER)

K. WANG: At that time, I was still young. I was not bad-looking then.

(LAUGHTER)

K. WANG: So what else? Hurry, hurry, I want to go home.

CHEN WANG: How did you meet grandpa?

K. WANG: I was a training nurse in a hospital. He was there for hemorrhoids operation. So when your grandfather sees me, your grandpa keeps on asking me to get married. And I said I don't like you. You have bald head.

(LAUGHTER)

K. WANG: I didn't like him because he's ugly. But one thing about your grandpa, he's very smart. That's it. No more question.

CHEN WANG: Grandma.

CHENG WANG: Just a couple more questions?

K. WANG: Short one.

CHENG WANG: Short ones.

CHEN WANG: Short ones.

Tell me about working at Bloomingdale's. What did you do?

K. WANG: You know what I do. I'm not going to tell you.

CHEN WANG: No, you have to - (laughter) you have to talk about it.

K. WANG: All right, I'm a detective.

(LAUGHTER)

K. WANG: I got a very famous designer - I better not to mention her name - she stole a dress $3,000-some. So I walked out the store. I said, would you like to pay me that dress? She said, do you know who I am? I said, yeah. You're a thief. So that's my life.

(LAUGHTER)

CHEN WANG: Do you have any regrets?

K. WANG: No. What should I regret? No. I think I'm old enough to do whatever I like, and that's it.

(LAUGHTER)

INSKEEP: You get to be 87, you can tell it like it is. Kay Wang with her son Cheng and granddaughter Chen in New York. Kay Wang died a few weeks after this conversation. Cheng and Chen later went back to StoryCorps and recorded a tribute to Kay, which has been turned into an animated short called "No More Questions." You can see it at npr.org. And you can interview your own mom on Sunday with the new StoryCorps app. Your conversation will go to the Library of Congress, as all StoryCorps interviews do. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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