Dedicating 2021 to My Grandma
By Mo Edjlali
I’m dedicating this year to my maternal grandmother. She died last Saturday and while the nation, I, and my neighbors here in the DC area were dealing with the frightening attacks on our democracy, my mind was elsewhere.
My grandmother was the closest thing to a real-life angel that I’ve ever known. She was the real deal. This past weekend we celebrated her life. She was born, lived, and died in Tehran, Iran. I’m here in the USA, the Washington, DC area. Iran is kinda my mother country and the USA is kinda like my father country. For my whole life, due to circumstances out of my control, these two countries have been in conflict. The days after she died leading up to the memorial I found myself full of rage. Feeling like a victim and just plain mad at the world.
At our online memorial gathering, my sister shared a video that caused a deep shift in me. She had recorded this video of our grandmother a few years back, a message for her grandkids back in the USA.
She said to us (with my rough Farsi translation):
This life is hard enough already, no reason to make it harder for others. Be kind to others and take care of one another, no matter what stay united as a family, and there is no challenge you can not overcome together.
She lived through two revolutions and a war, first seeing a democratic movement toppled by a coup d'état and then a revolution partially driven by students against social injustice turned into a repressive religious authoritarian state. Her country was brutally attacked by the madman Sadam Husain which resulted in over half a million people dying and massive destruction. She lived through seeing some of her siblings, children, and grandchild flee and seeing those who can not flee or who choose to stay deal with repression, economic hardship, and drug addiction. She watched her middle age grandson (my cousin) die of cancer and was widowed over 30 years ago. And if that was not enough she watched her family's wealth seized by the government, creating lifelong financial uncertainty.
As we gathered to remember her what our family members shared over and over again was how kind and generous she was throughout her life. No matter her personal state, she had an almost regal presence and would always think of others first. She was committed to family and faith. She also loved to bake and sew, two hobbies I never picked up but that make me remember her fondly.
RIP Grandma... I’m dedicating 2021 to you. In times when I feel like the world is falling apart may I remember your strength, unwavering commitment to kindness, and commitment to family. May I do my best to live up to the high standard you have set.
If you feel called to do so please share how your grandma has inspired you in the comments below. Although condolences are appreciated, I would ask that you refrain and instead we focus on our mutual love for grandmas and share how they have inspired the best in us.