My mom passed away quietly last Saturday. It happened when we were least expecting it. She was unwell for more than 8-years now and bed-ridden for close to 6 of those years. She had Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease that has no cure, that slowly and surely took a toll on her health. It was painful for us all of us watch her lose her abilities bit-by-bit, so we seek solace in the fact that she is finally free of the pain she suffered for so long. Through all of this, my dad was the one person who nursed her (along with the various hired help we had) and was hopeful that she’d get better. My dad’s a fiercely independent person and firmly believed that he was my mom’s primary care giver and all of us needed to focus on our respective lives. He fought tooth and nail with us to keep that independence despite his advancing years. There’s a thin line between being overly-optimistic and being in denial. It’s possible my dad was in denial while being the never-give-up kind of an optimist. Strong, fiercely independent and frustratingly and admirably obstinate and optimistic is how I would describe my dad. It has come as a blow to him because he is the one person who refused to accept that my mom wasn’t going to get better and this Jan they completed 60-years of being married (My mum was married when she was 14-15).
It’s been really long since I saw my mom in complete possession of all of her faculties, and there was a lot more to her personality than we had seen her demonstrate in these last 6 years. I do want to remember her for those wonderful qualities before those memories fade away. Today, I hope I have inherited some of those qualities from her, which is quite ironical because growing up I’ve always been daddy’s girl, didn’t want to emulate my mom because she was the bad cop who made life so hard for a teenager who gave her a lot of grief over eating right and rebelled against every possible thing she could.
Some awesome things about my mom I never want to forget:
1. Never leave home without breakfast – Irrespective of how late I was or how much of a tantrum I threw, there was just no leaving home without breakfast in my house. I think I’ve inherited that from her. Breakfast in my house is mandatory and there is just no getting away from it.
2. Education and any form of learning will always stand you in good stead – For someone who had only studied till the 10th standard, before she was married off, I do not know where this learning came from, but I have experienced this to be true of all the education and learning in my life. For a person who studied MBA and had a corporate career spanning 14 years, before I began my baking business, I use all my learning from my education and corporate experience in what I do today. She was my first teacher and taught me the alphabet and numbers well enough for my first teacher to ask who had taught me.
3. Share – Even if you have very little, always share what you have, especially food. Being the youngest child (that too a girl) in the family, there was always that danger of me turning into someone who didn’t share her things. My mom, with her stories and anecdotes made sure she inculcated that quality of sharing in me.
4. Never set expectations that you can’t meet, and if you do, do everything to meet them.
5. My mom made the best Alu Parathas that she served with my favorite fresh white butter churned at home. Soft, flaky, with layers No I haven’t inherited this from her. She also made the best Puran Poli (sweet-stuffed layered bread), which I haven’t learned from her. She also made the best Chudwa (a savory mix of flavored rice-flakes, pea-nuts, fried curry leaves etc.). She made this every day and I could eat it by the bowlfuls. I’ve tried very hard to replicate the taste and although I make it decently, I can never get the flavor quite like she did.
6. Never lose the sense of fairness and justice – Brattiness wasn’t an option with my mom. She believed in tough love, even if it got her hated in the moment, she was willing to risk that to ensure we did the right thing. This seems in sharp contrast with what I hear these days or even see demonstrated, people misdirecting anger at other people and not reasoning with them-selves and justifying it by saying that’s just what I needed then and it’s ok to be like that. I am not sure I’ve been very successful at this either but I try very consciously to separate my feelings from facts and to treat people with fairness, for this I thank my mom. I am definitely not a brat! 7. Hygiene – My mom believed that you could never wash your hands enough number of times, especially when you were working with food or eating. I get my bordering-on-OCD sense of hygiene from her.
I may not have turned out exactly the way my mom would’ve liked me to, but I do hope, I have inherited the important values that she imparted to us. Thank you mamma, for bringing us up and we hope you look on proudly on us from wherever you are. I hope you are happy and at peace now.