Sunday, November 10, 2013

Eulogy To An Amazing Grandmother

My Gran aged 90 passed away this week, and after having given her eulogy I was asked to post it on the blog. No amount of words could sum up what she meant to so many people. I humbly present to you my feeble attempt.


Aunty Mavis.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I was asked to say a few words on behalf of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren present here today, and as I sat down to pen my thoughts I was suddenly struck with the enormity of the task that lay before me.
How could I possibly encapsulate my grans 90 amazing and wonderful years into just a few short minutes?
How does one describe such a beautiful soul in just a few paragraphs?
My Grans passing presented a very unique situation to us as a family. It presented a situation which required wisdom, understanding, patience and respect from both sides of two different yet very similar religious beliefs.
As I look around this congregation here today, I can’t help but smile at the beauty and blessings of the last and final act of a unique woman. We are all here today, friends and companions included, as one family. Wiser. More understanding. More patient. And certainly more respectful of each other.

A mother to her children.
A grandmother to her grandchildren.
An aunt to her nieces and nephews.
A friend to her companions.
A healer to the sick.
A source of comfort to the destitute.
A humble servant of God.
You’ve been so many things to so many people, but to me and those you have left behind you will always be a shining example of a truly beautiful, admirable, compassionate and graceful human being.

One of my favourite memories of Nani happened during a family road trip to what was then known as the Eastern Transvaal more than 20 years ago. I’d packed a selection of music tapes for the long journey ahead, and at some point while I was driving I changed the tape. The music started and as the lyrics began, I heard this voice from the back seat singing along so beautifully that I lost track of my driving and got pulled over for speeding.
The words were Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” but the voice was all Nani’s.

I see trees of green, red roses, too,
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

To this day, trees of green, red roses in bloom, always remind me of what a wonderful world it was with you in it Nani.

It’s the little things that seem to stand out the most when I think about my gran —her beaming smile when you complimented her on her outfit. Her huge all-embracing hug that made you feel like she was enveloping your very soul and you never wanted to let go. The scent of her lingered about long after the hug had been forgotten. Her words of wisdom which seemed to flow like an eternal spring. Her always quoting just the right verse from the bible to remind you that no matter what your troubles or fears, this too shall pass and you always ended up leaving her with a sense of contentment, certainty and calmness. There are so many things that I can see and feel as if they had just happened.
I’m sure everyone here has memories much like mine. They are good memories, something we’ll always have to cherish. It isn’t often in our lives that we come across someone so special that that person stays with you forever. Nani was that kind of person.
The kind of love Nani felt for us was a love without condition. She just kept loving us, letting us know that she was there and if we ever needed her, we could count on her to listen, to comfort, to help.
She lived a simple life. It didn’t take much to make her happy—a phone call, an sms, a card, a visit or taking her to lunch at Ocean Basket. We were the most important people in the world to her. She lived to make our lives better and was proud of us.
To think that someone like her felt that way about us should make us all feel more than just a little good. We can never forget that there is a part of her in each of us, something that she gave to us and asked nothing for in return.
Money can be squandered and property ruined, but what we inherited from her cannot be damaged, destroyed or lost. Throughout our trials and tribulations, and I pray that there won’t be many, the greatest lesson I have learnt from Nani is quite simply to have faith. She woke up with the word of God on her breath, she spoke the word of God and lived a life observant of God every day, and went to bed with God as her last word.

There have been and will be times in our lives when situations arise where we’ll want so much to talk to her, be with her or ask her just what we should do. I hope that, when those times come, we can begin to look to each other and find that part of her that she gave to each of us.
Maybe we can learn to lean on each other and rely on each other the way we always knew that we could with her. Maybe then she won’t seem quite so far away.
So, for your wisdom, your humour, tenderness and compassion, your understanding, your patience and your love; thank you and I love you.

To my uncle’s Vaughn and Rashid and his wife Amina, my mom Rashida, my siblings Shamima, Aadilah and Faheem, to Aunty Ray and your entire amazing family, to everybody in attendance here today, I thank you for your guidance and your wisdom and pray that Nani’s vision of keeping us all together stays true.

Go in peace Nani.
Allah Hafez.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Stopping To Smell The Flowers

Some time back, probably about a year and a half ago, a friend of mine said something to me that made me smile and say a silent prayer of gratitude.
We had been talking about what constitutes a blessed life, and I had just done telling him that I am filled with a sense of contentment and peace. An inner peace that came from knowing that I was comfortable with where my life was at, satisfied with the direction it was going in and extremely optimistic about the future. It was the kind of contentment that comes from finally absorbing all that life has blessed you with, and being able to exhale knowing that you are exactly where you were meant to be in your journey.

It was at this point that he said he yearns for that kind of peace and contentment.
It was also at this point that I realized just how truly grateful I should be for all the wonderful people in my life, and all the amazing roads I have seen along my journey to have reached the point I was at just then.

That was over a year ago.

Since that day I have embarked on new ventures and pursuits, chased new dreams and taken on more challenges.
I have thrown caution to the wind and tried to explore new shores.
In my pursuit of achieving great success, I have also made great sacrifices. I realized recently that chief amongst those sacrifices has been the very essence of what made me so content and peaceful not so long ago.

Sometimes we're so eager to get to the destination, that we forget to stop along the way and smell the flowers. The picture above is of my daughter Zia in deep contemplation. 
Maybe she's taken a moment to listen to her breathing.
Maybe she's taken a moment to think about her next breathtaking smile or giggle.
Or maybe she's simply telling me "Slow down Dad. Pause for a while. I know you'll get there in the end... but it's the now that really counts."

This is a video of Zia taking her first steps.
These are the moments I shall cherish through my journey.