My late grandmother was the gentlest, sweetest, dearest lady you could ever meet. I will always be grateful that I had so many years to get to know such a kind soul.
I can still picture her vividly in my mind. Plump and pretty with long gray strands in a messy bun on the back of her head. She was forever draped in simple cotton saris, preferring to wear silk saris only for outings and special occasions.
She was my mother’s mother. We called her Mamama. Her name, Shanta, means serenity and calm, which perfectly described her.
She had a pleasant disposition and radiated warm, friendly energy. She stayed out of arguments and never raised her voice to anyone.
She was always ready and willing to assist anyone in any way she could without a moment’s hesitation. She attended to everyone in the family with warmth and compassion. In return, she just wanted to be needed and loved by all those around her.
She used to say that older adults become children once again later in life.
She had a terrific sense of humor and appreciated a good joke. Thankfully, she had the remarkable ability to laugh at herself when she mispronounced American words, so she did not take offense when we corrected her.
Granny only spoke her mother tongue and was eager to learn English. She would come to us, pen and paper in hand, jotting down words and phrases like a small child.
No matter how hard she tried, she could not quite master the English language. However, we had to give her credit for trying.
I have dozens of wonderful memories as a child consuming foods prepared for me by my Grandma. Her dishes were authentic and labor-intensive and not something that one could easily replicate.
The foods she made still bring a flood of warm fuzzy happy memories when I taste anything similar to them. I can still remember the taste of her crisp and savory dosas with creamy homemade butter.
Grandma lost her husband and two of her six children, which left her broken-hearted. Yet, she never lost hope or gave up on life. She remained strong and persevered.
I recall how she only trusted me to hold her handbag for her while she left to go to the restroom at my cousin’s wedding. I was deeply honored by the trust she placed in me that day.
At the time, she had become suspicious of family members and believed they were stealing her possessions.
Her mind was frail at the time, and she was gradually succumbing to Alzheimer’s. About a year earlier, she had gone for a stroll and could not find her way home.
She had gotten completely lost in a nearby community. Fortunately, strangers exhibited the same sense of kindness that she radiated and led her back home.
She used to say that older adults become children once again later in life. Only now do I recognize how true that statement is. She passed away at the age of 84 from Alzheimer’s.
I am blessed to have known such a lovely human being. She taught me to be wise, patient, and resilient. I will always love her and miss her.
She will always be on my mind and in my heart.
Previously Published on Medium