Some Reflections On My Grandma

My grandmother, Sadigheh Naderi, passed away on last Friday after some 86 years on this earth.

Grandma was considerate until the end, after suffering from a stroke, she waited in a coma for 5 days to allow most of her family to gather around her bedside, before passing on. Even after the funeral, I still can’t really wrap my mind around the fact that she’s no longer alive.

To me, she was a figure of constant love, patience and unyielding faith. She used to pray about 4 hours each day and never treated it like a chore but something that was the highlight of her day. We always used to say that Grandma’s prayers could change the weather so we would constantly ask her for help when we were in need - be it our actual weddings, some border crossing or just our worries about life. I somehow managed to get married in February this last year, with weather that looked like spring.

My grandmother showered relentless love on everyone she came upon. When I was a little baby - she took care of me and made me the focus of her love, even though she had ever right to be bitter - having just had her house burned by an angry extremist mob for believing in the Baha’i Faith and having the ceiling of an airport collapse on her while she listened to her sister suffocate.

When my family moved to a residential Baha’i school, she came to volunteer at the school. At the school, she asked all of the students to think of her as their own grandmother and she helped out in an unglamorous manner, through volunteering to wash some 200+ students clothes on a weekly basis.

In her older age, she continued to volunteer at every opportunity, be it visiting the sick, helping out at the library or anything else she could help with. While she lived in a relatively small and isolated town of Summerland, BC - walking around the block with her would be met with at least 2-3 people coming to her and thanking her for something that she did.

I’m still trying to come to terms with all the emotions that I’m still feeling in reflecting on her life. This my best attempt at a summary:

1 - Learn how to connect with the older generation

I struggled with finding a way to connect with my grandmother. I’d ask her how she was and what was happening and she’s say everything is fine. What did she do? Everything was good. But I never got deeper. I wanted to know why she prayed so much, how did she have so much Faith.

I wish I had persevered a little more in these efforts and realized that language was partially a barrier. My grandma’s native language is Farsi and it wasn’t until I met Mina, that I realized that she was much more comfortable and willing to open up when speaking Farsi. I am the same whenever speaking a language I’m not that comfortable with, when you’re struggling just to communicate, you’re happy just to get through a sentence.

2 - Relationships need in person time

After reflecting on these experiences with my cousin, he mentioned that he’d spend entire days with her - walking around the block, going places and only at the end of all of it would she open up about things.

There’s no shortcut to building relationships with people and they can’t be forged over the phone. You need to see people. Sit with them and just be in their same presence.

3 - Stuff is just stuff

At the end of my grandmother’s life, she was in a hospital like everyone else, with all of her earthly possessions (they weren’t that many) nowhere to be found. It was the people’s who’s lives she touched that were around her and stayed with her until the end. It’s the lives who she touched, toughed and loved that carry forward her memory on this earth.

I’m still coming to terms with her no longer being with us.