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I had the privilege to be born to one of the most resilient and amazing women ever. My Mother, Aghdas Sharif Panahi, never got famous. She never climbed any corporate ladders. She never stood at a podium and no one ever clapped for her. She never won an award. She didn’t collect certificates and degrees. But she ruled hearts and she touched lives with her graceful, calm and authentic care, with her humble, selfless and quiet existence.
She passed. Eleven hours after I set off on my last farewell. Even her last journey was determined, organized and according to her will. She silently tolerated pain till I arrived in Tehran and two days later she went into a coma. Even her final breaths had to teach us what she was most admired for, all her life: Grace, patience, calmness, independence, forgiveness and unconditional love. She taught me with her departure to the spirit world as much as she did with her life.
My Mother, Aghdas, never spoke a word aimlessly or pointlessly. She was so soft-spoken that if you wanted to hear her voice you had to be real quiet and attentive. Her innate wisdom and graceful way of being was not a result of schooling or education. She never really got the chance to go to school since she was forced into an arranged marriage at the age of 12. Only to give birth to eight children and give herself and her love to them unconditionally for the rest of her life.
My Mother, Aghdas, didn’t learn resilience and patience through therapy or self-development books. She spent her childhood during the world war, watching troops move through her city while her mother cared for neighbors affected by cholera, living on a few almonds and dates a day. And it only got worse when she had to witness women being attacked by Reza Khan’s soldiers to take off their Islamic cover. Years later she had to live with the torture of the next generation of women being harassed for not covering up according to religion.
My Mother, Aghdas, travelled the world but that didn’t deviate her from her heart’s passion. She was loved and respected am
ongst the less fortunate since her priority was helping others. She, herself, always came last. She was Mother Teresa in many peoples’ eyes. She always made sure all the servants and helpers take a little bit of all the food in the house to their kids. Her authentic giving and caring for orphans was always done quietly and hidden from the eyes of others.
She Spent all her life caring for others and for her kids. Just as life was getting a little easier my father abandoned her. She held her chin up. Took five of us that were still living at home under her strong wings, through tough times of revolution and war, without ever letting us feel the fear and insecurity that she was storing in every inch of her cells. She sent three girls and two boys to their adulthood and married lives without the support of a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle or any one. All in a country where being a single mom not only was not supported, it was even looked down on. How she maintained and grew her loyalty, grace and faith through all of this and how she selflessly and forgivingly took care of my father in the hospital for 50 days before his demise, I still wonder.
She passed. But her memory, her graceful love, her forgiving and expansive heart, her independence, her will power and determination, her wisdom, her quotes and expressions, her un-matching delicious food, her sweet and shy smile, her thoughtfulness, her resilience, her management skills, her giving hand, her patience will be remembered for ever. She lives forever in my heart. I wish I had told her...
I feel guilty, since my immigration left an unhealed wound in her heart. Losing our time together is what she never got over with and what I will regret for the rest of my life.
I am blessed and most honored that we spent 15 years together, taking care of each other, while all my sisters and brothers were busy building their lives.
I’m grateful for all the memories we created and all of her life stories that she shared with me.
I wish she had not given up on love. I wish she had taken better care of herself. I wish she had not forgotten joy. I wish she believed more in how much she was loved. I wish she was half optimistic as she was resilient. I wish she had let her pride and independence down every other while and allowed some help to carry her along. I wish she had found her mission and her passion in life. I wish she was not so sacrificial. I wish she had communicated her pains and her suffering more. I wish she I could hear her voice again....
Maman joon, in your loving memory I will proudly carry on your legend and will work as hard as I can to maintain your values and morales. You live, forever, in my heart and in every breath I take. You are and will be forever my guiding star.
I love you