This week's email is fully dedicated to my grandmother (Ba), Padmaben Shakhawala.
She passed away on Sunday, Feb 6, 2022.
There are 3 things I want to share with you today:
- An Instagram Post full of memories
- A 15-minute recap of her funeral
- My Eulogy
My grandma (Ba) is not with us anymore. 😢
She passed away, (at 88yo) peacefully, during her afternoon nap yesterday, Feb 6, 2022.
A few memories I’d like to share:
There was a point in my childhood (~6-8yo) when my Ba and I shared a bedroom. We each had our own beds, but every night I didn’t immediately fall asleep, I climbed out of my bed and jumped into hers. Her bed smelled like Tel (The blue bottle of coconut oil. IYKYK).
My ba came to America a few months before I was born. She raised me while my parents were at work. I specifically remember our summer schedule. I woke up late, we’d eat, then she’d watch me play outside. NMW, we ALWAYS came inside to watch her soaps: General Hospital and All My Children. She LOVED Erica Kane, the matriarch character played by Susan Lucci. I remember her always saying, “Susan Lucci... bo Loochie” (rough translation: Susan Lucci... so mischievous).
Ever since we moved out of my parent's house, my Ba would call me about every other week to ask for something. She wasted no time. I’d answer the phone, “Hi Ba!”. She’d jump right into her list. “Jo! 1 box Granola bar, 1 bottle 500mg Tynanol (Tylenol), 1 bottle Advil, 1 bottle centrum, 1 case Gataro (Gatorade), unehhh … 1 box Ensure Milk”. I needed a pen and pad ready to go before answering the call.
When I told my friends my Ba passed, the words “feisty” and “spunky” were used to describe their memory of her. These are accurate, to say the least. If you’ve been slapped on the back or smacked across the face by my Ba, consider yourself lucky. That meant she really liked you.
The fifth and final memory I’ll share today is the one that’s hardest to digest.
When Dia and I were pregnant, we decided not to find out the gender. My Ba was willing a boy into existence. She said, "Dia is holding my son’s son’s son in her, Jojeh! (Just You Watch!)"
But then Luna came, and Ba couldn’t be happier. Whenever we brought Luna to my parent’s house, my Ba gave her the same gift every. single. time. It was a Ziploc bag with 1 box of M&Ms, 1 package of Parle-G cookies, 1 granola bar, and $21 dollars cash. We told her a million times Luna doesn’t eat any of that stuff, but she was stubborn and relentless.
We would hide the M&Ms, Parle-G, and Granola Bars from Luna, but we always made a big deal out of the $21. After we got home, we would hand the money to Luna in the kitchen and dance our way to depositing it into her PiggyBank.
Luna now basically associates cash with her “SuperBa” (my mom is her actual Ba, my Ba is her SuperBa). Whenever Luna sees cash in the wild, she screams, “SuperBa!”.
So yesterday, while I was with my parents sending texts and making calls to friends and family to share the bad news, Dia was taking care of Luna by herself.
After dinner, they went for a walk to the mail-room to collect a package. On the way back to the apartment, Luna started to shout, “SuperBa! SuperBa!”. And Dia said, “SuperBa isn’t here anymore, baby...” But Luna wasn’t listening. She stopped to pick up a $10 bill off the ground and held it up for Dia to see.
SuperBa made one last stop to say goodbye before going away forever.
I love you, Ba. I miss you, Ba.
I’ll never forget you and I’ll do my best to make sure Luna remembers her SuperBa for as long as possible.
Her Funeral was an hour(+) long event, but we were able to cut this video down to 15 minutes.
Ba was a very complicated woman…
Sometimes you were her favorite person in the world. Other times, she would yell, “Ja! Tare saathe naathi bolwanu” (I'm not talking to you!).
Over the years I learned there are many ways to be on her bad side, but just a few ways to stay on her good side.
- Call her on her birthday before 9am. If you call after 9a, you’re too late.
- Do shradh for her husband every year.
- Go upstairs to say hi to her when you come in the house and then go back upstairs to say bye to her before leaving the house.
- If she calls you that means she wants something. Answer the phone and be ready to take notes on her grocery list. She used to demand same-day delivery, but thanks to Amazon, I trained Ba to accept 2-day shipping for all her needs.
Sometimes I forget Ba helped raise me, but then I look back at some of her behavior and realize there were times she was just as much a parent to me as my own mom and dad.
2 examples come to mind:
When I was in high school, my friends used to come over after school to play poker in my parents' basement. Most days, ba would go for a walk outside, but the days my friends came over, ba would just walk around the basement. I think She was watching me to make sure I didn’t get into trouble. And after my friends left she would ask if I won or lost. If I won, she would ask for her share. If I lost, she would give me some money to pay for lunch the next day.
The second example is When I was still living with my parents after college, my friends and I would go out in new york city on the weekends and come home really late... like 3 or 4am. To punish us, Ba would play Indian music extra loud and extra early around 6 or 7am. She would come into my room, step over whoever was sleeping on the floor and open all the blinds.
She knew how to give tough love. The kind that hurts at the moment but feels good over the long term.
We’re going to miss you so much, ba. Thank you for everything.