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From a Mother to Mother: The Most Beautiful Memory I Kept Locked In My Heart

From a Mother to Mother: The Most Beautiful Memory I Kept Locked In My Heart

  • As I spend my seventh Mother’s Day without mummy, here’s my ode to my pillar, my strength, my inspiration and my guardian angel.

Growing up in India, I was unaware of Mother’s Day, its history, and its significance. That is until the “Hallmark” holiday got commercialized. Then, the celebrations included a card, a small gift, and maybe a small treat.

It was only after I became a mom, and my then daycare-going kids began to mark the occasion that it became an integral part of my life. Now that they are young adults, I still cherish their handmade gifts.

After moving to the U.S., and after becoming a mom, I never had the opportunity to celebrate Mother’s Day in person with mummy who was in India. But it became important to me to use that day to let her know how important and special she was to me — with both my words and gestures. Not that she craved the attention. However, as my kids celebrated me, it became imperative for me to celebrate mummy. Not that I needed a day to remember her or talk to her, as I did that a couple of times a week, but it was a day to go above and beyond the usual. Of course, she appreciated it, she even began wishing me. It was special, although she was far away.

It’s been almost eight years since mummy passed away This is my seventh Mother’s Day without her. It’ll be an understatement to say that I miss her, not just on this occasion or birthdays or festivals, there’s an immeasurable void. There was so much life she had yet to live — to enjoy her grandkids, to see and experience the world, to write and explore, and to be with me. There’s so much I want to tell her, so much left to share.

I look back and all the happy times, the hard times, the challenges she helped me overcome, and the invaluable advice she gave me over the years. It brings a smile to my face. And there’s sadness as well. It’s bittersweet.

There’s so much I learned from her, and there’s still so much left to learn. Her organizational skills, her resilience and determination, her calmness, her ability to look after everyone in the family, her selflessness, her work ethic and her culinary skills. These are all the things I aspire for.

This Mother’s Day, here’s my ode to mummy, my pillar, my strength, my inspiration and my guardian angel. She is the most beautiful memory I kept locked inside my heart.

Since mummy’s death, and most recently as an empty nester, I have started finding solace in cooking foods that she would make for me. It’s comforting, to say the least. Of course, none of those dishes are remotely close to how her’s would taste despite following her recipes to the T!

Mummy was a phenomenal cook. She took utmost pleasure in not just churning out lip-smacking food, and a variety of it, but feeding people made her particularly happy. If she cooked something she knew a friend would like — she would make extra and make sure it was delivered to them. That could be a family friend, her friend, mine, my dad’s or my brother’s. Everyone got the same treatment from her. She taught me that the most important thing is to be loving, kind and nice to others. She was so giving and selfless.

Woman of Substance

She taught me to always work hard at whatever I do. At the end of the day, you can take pride in the work that you do and know that you’ve done your best. I learned this from the way she lived her life. She always went above and beyond in her work and her personal life for others. She always put others before herself.

Mummy never had an office job, but she was an accomplished writer and had made a name for herself as an award-winning author and translator of stories from Kannada to Marathi. Her assignments kept her busy, and she delivered them on deadlines. Not only was she a connection between families — both her’s and papa’s — her work involved building bridges too — between Marathi and Kannada literature. Mummy has translated over 100 short stories by eminent Kannada writer Meena and was the recipient of several awards for her unique service to the languages of Marathi and Kannada.

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She was a hands-on mom as well — always there for my brother and me. She was deeply involved in every facet of our lives. It was through her that I learned about work-life balance, although she never defined it that way. It came naturally to her. It was something that I took from her, knowingly and unknowingly. As a young girl, I had no idea of how tough it was to balance a career, home, kids and other responsibilities. When faced with similar situations as a working mother in the U.S., all I had to do was to emulate the life she led. Or, at least try.

Growing up, we lived in the heart of Pune, and our home was always filled with relatives. Mummy personally took care of each one of them, made them comfortable, cooked for them and even took them out for shopping and sightseeing. And she did it so effortlessly. It came naturally to her. She never showed her stress or her tensions to anyone. Now I realize how hard it must have been at times. How she would stay back at night to write. How well she managed it all. I try to do the same. I succeed most of the time, but I must admit that I am yet to master her calmness! That’s a work in progress.

Facing a Cancerous Adversity

Mummy was a strong—the strongest woman I’ve ever met. No matter what challenges she faced, she was prepared to fight through it and come out stronger. She handled her cancer with the same resilience and determination. Mummy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 2014. She began her chemotherapy almost immediately. Through those sessions, and all the pain and weakness, she would always talk about the runnings of the house, the kitchen and if everyone’s needs were met. I made several trips to India during that time. She would discourage me from visiting her often as she did not want to inconvenience my husband and the kids with my absence.

In those 19 months since her diagnosis, I made several visits solo and with my kids. Despite her treatment, the pain and the suffering there was some much joy and gratitude. We all realized how valuable each and every month we got with mummy was, and to this day, I am so thankful to have been able to live and experience those moments with her, my family and my kids. Those memories give me the strength to carry on every day. They strengthened me as a person, making me more genuine, hopeful and happy.

However, one of my biggest regrets is that mummy didn’t live to see my kids grow up into strong, young adults, maneuvering through high school, college and work. She would have been so proud of them. I have tried my best to emulate everything she did as a mother to me. I hope she sees this wherever she is and is proud of it.

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The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
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