Ning Lin (also known by her Americanized name Nancy Zhu) passed away in the early morning hours of December 24, 2013. She leaves behind a grateful husband, son, and hundreds of dear friends.
Ning was born on July 29, 1957 in Beijing, China to her mother Mainan Gu and her father Feng Lin. Although she remained very close to her father through her entire life, her parents' demanding careers amidst the chaos of the Chinese Cultural Revolution forced Ning to mature at a very young age.
She quickly learned how to take care of herself far from home during her teenage years of service in the military and realized that she needed to shape her destiny on her own. With her father's love and encouragement, she became an excellent student, and qualified to train as a doctor at an early age at Anhui Medical School. As China opened up to the world and absorbed new medical advances, Ning became drawn to the intellectual challenges of radiation oncology. She quickly earned praise from her department chair, Dr. Xianzhi Gu, as well as the heart of a fellow promising student, Jun Zhu, in 1984. Soon, she and Jun won prestigious medical fellowships to continue their studies in the United States and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1989 to make a new life for themselves.
Ning and Jun arrived in the U.S. with only two suitcases, a hundred dollars, and their dreams for the future. They were soon joined when their son Michael was born on October 29, 1991. As they continued working and making friends, they came to love America and resolved to stay. After moving to Cleveland, Ohio and then to Houston, Texas, Ning and her family finally ended up in Sugar Land, where she and Jun earned their American citizenships in 2000.
She persevered through some of the darkest days of her life in 2001 when her father passed away from lung cancer. The loss of her father further strained her relationship with her vindictive mother, and she resolved to learn from her own mother's failings to become the best mom possible for her son as well as a loving wife to Jun. Even after suffering a serious back injury in 2005 which left her in pain for the rest of her life, Ning worked tirelessly for the wellbeing of her family because nothing could hold her back from caring for her husband and son. She kept a sunny attitude towards life through her hardships, and won countless friends with her warmth and openness.
Ning showered her love and attention on her loved ones, and not a day passed without a reminder of her thoughtfulness. As Michael grew up and worked through the challenges of adolescence, his mother continued to encourage him to achieve his dreams. It was tough on Ning when her only son left home for college in 2010, but physical distance did not end their emotional closeness. Michael knew he could always rely on his Mom and Dad for support. Whenever he visited home, she was always ready for him with his favorite meals, including her amazing homemade dumplings.
Deep in her heart, Ning had always hoped that Michael would follow her footsteps into medicine, and it brought her enormous joy when he received an acceptance from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. When she witnessed her son's graduation from college in December 2013, it seemed that her life had come full-circle: she had raised her son to become a happy and healthy young man with a bright future in the field she'd always loved. Tragically, she discovered a little more than a week after Michael's graduation that during her years worrying and fussing over the health of her family, she'd neglected her own health. Though she'd long known about her liver problems, she had thought very little of medical treatment, reasoning that her condition was manageable since her symptoms had remained mild for nearly two decades. It was a shock then for Ning and her family to learn how serious her situation had become. Even with the best medical care possible, Ning's illness had ultimately become incurable, and she passed away only eight days after being hospitalized.
Though she left us too soon, Ning left a wonderful legacy in her family and friends. Her love lives on, and both Jun and Michael have committed themselves to living their lives in her honor. As Michael continues his journey into medicine with his beloved mother watching from heaven, he will share her thoughtfulness and warmth with all of his future patients. Through him, Ning's work will continue to shape countless lives in the years to come.
Arrangements under the direction of Earthman Southwest Funeral Home, Stafford, TX.