Ancestors; an appreciation

Mahmudah (Urdu), meaning: One of glory; worthy of praise.

It is the death anniversary of my darling Dado, my paternal grandmother, Mahmudah. The kindest, most dignified, calm soul I have known.

Born in India before Partition, she had a difficult life. Following an arranged marriage, she raised six children with grace and deep love. Although she had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy and teaching and was the principal of a school, she was raised in a patriarchal society and was often silent about her needs.

She emphasized education, and all six of her children, including the eldest, my father, obtained advanced degrees. I am the eldest child of her eldest child. She visited us for extended periods in Canada and the United States, spending her time between the homes of her children/grandchildren. Even after my parents divorced, she stayed close to our family, rejecting no one.

What we remember about ancestors can be poignant flashes as well as detailed memories.
* She was the only one who could brush out and untangle my extremely long and unruly hair when I was a child without me screaming. I was a rough and tumble outdoor kid with long hair; not the wisest combination.

* She hated cold weather, but walked many blocks with me to the public library, snow piled on both sides of the sidewalk. We even walked through snowbanks so I could check out my beloved books.

* She had long silky hair, flawless skin, and a delicious personal scent, through her 80s.

*She loved flowers; we frequently picked wildflowers and stopped to smell the roses.

*She always held my hand while walking and hugged me frequently; she understood the importance of expressed affection.

* She was truly able to accept and appreciate individual differences. My parents bucked every norm in the society they grew up in. I never heard her express judgment or criticism, a rare thing culturally and generationally.

* She was incredibly smart and cognitively sound, always. Even when physically fragile, her mind was razor sharp.

May she be at peace in Jannah (Heaven).
Also see on the importance of Grandmothers and Mental Health

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