5 Ways to Live An Extraordinary Life
My paternal grandmother left us on the 7th September 2016, days after my grandfather’s passing.
This is dedicated to you.
Your Ana x
5 Ways To Live An Extraordinary Life
The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.
I guess that means I’ve had 4 of the greatest toys all along.
If you’re listening up there – I hope you’re taking care of my granddad and grandma.
We are here to celebrate the life of my paternal grandma whom I lovingly called: Thamma.
Over the last week, many have shared the same description of her: she was a special lady.
Though I whole-heartedly agree, it’s been difficult to pin point just what made her so extraordinary. I think it comes down to 5 main principles she encompassed which I want to share with you today.
- Be Brave & Keep the Faith
Those of you who knew Thamma will be well aware of her fierce independence.
Aged 17, she left her home, forged her father’s signature and enrolled into nursing school in Calcutta. This is where she met and fell in love with my Granddad.
They embarked on a long distance relationship as my Granddad then moved to the UK. Careful with his pennies, Granddad decided that he would send Thamma a one-way ticket to the UK so they could marry in Cambridge and save money on multiple plane fares.
It may have made the best financial sense but I don’t think my Grandmother’s family were best pleased and were slightly dubious of her choice of husband. Never-the-less, Thamma’s father gave her his blessing and she left the only country she had ever known, experienced her very first flight, solo and embraced a new life, in a completely foreign land.
Each time I relive this story, part of me swells with admiration and respect.
The other part of me just thinks she was crazy.
Very few women would want to overcome such cultural and societal pressures even now.
I often asked Thamma how she knew this was the right decision.
She always smiled and answered in the same way.
“I trusted in God and I kept my faith.”
Thamma’s faith was everything.
- Defy All Odds
Ever since I can remember, Thamma was always in and out of hospital. Extensive neck and back surgeries, bone grafts, respiratory issues. As the list of her ailments grew, so did her determination to not let them affect her. Medical professionals would advise her against certain activities, suggesting her condition may limit her.
It all went in one ear and out the other as she didn’t want it to come in the way of:
- Living and Loving Life
Despite all her medical issues, Thamma always always loved life. An outsider would be none the wiser to her pain and suffering. She would always be dressed with a smile, a cheeky glint in her eye and probably a naughty joke hidden up her sleeve for good measure. Her vivacious energy and enthusiasm always made her the centre of attention and a joy to be around.
- Be Generous
Without a doubt, Thamma was famous for her generosity. My friends are all now very familiar with my grandmother’s care packages. I won’t ever forget the time I caught her first stuffing chocolate bars into my university suitcases when she thought I wasn’t looking. It was a sign for things to come.
As I progressed through university, so did the variety of her food shopping, mostly from Marks and Spencer’s.
Fear not though, I did share these luxuries with friends: so much so that a couple of them even ended up including Thamma in their PhD thesis acknowledgements thanking her for ‘single handedly feeding us all in the lab’.
Being generous came down to more than food though.
Thamma was generous with her time, her energy and her love.
She had a knack of making people feel special.
I think this is why her presence was felt by so many.
One friend sent me this message:
“I don’t know what to say to you; I know you’ve lost more than a grandma. Stay strong; remember she lived a life with no regrets. We can all learn something from her. She lived her life to the fullest and even right to the end she did what she wanted to do. She never became a burden on anyone and lived as a strong independent woman. You should be proud.”
Everything my friend said rang true and yet most interestingly, she’d never even met Thamma.
But here’s the thing.
My family and I are blessed to be joined by all of you today. You may have known her for over 40 years, met her only once or maybe not at all. Yet something within you was stirred enough to come and show your respect and support and for that we are so deeply touched.
The last month, as many of you are aware, has brought its challenges for my family. Hopes have been dashed, our faith has been tested and life’s unfairness had us all at times questioning: why?
However, tragedy brings with it huge opportunity for: humanity, kindness and love.
And from our friends, family and peers, the showering of love in the form of food, visits and messages have truly been overwhelming. If ever we doubted Thamma’s presence, it’s been felt from the outpouring of heartfelt generosity by those who on some level have been touched by her.
I can almost hear her say: Love generously, Ana.
But don’t forget:
- Have Fun
Thamma knew how to enjoy every situation.
She used to say:
“I am an old woman with screws in my back, one good eye and a bad leg, if I can still find the joy in the little things, then you’d better start enjoying them too!”
As I’m sure you’ve realised by now, there was no arguing with my grandma.
You weren’t feeling up to it?
She had little sympathy.
“Wash your face.
Brush your hair.
Make yourself feel beautiful.
Right, then it was time to have some fun.
But first, shall we go have some tea and cake?”
“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.”
Far from being a simple toy though, Thamma was more than a grandma to one grandchild. She was a parent figure and confidante to so very many.
Put simply, she was the shiniest, most precious toy, to us all.
Rest In Peace Thamma
Until the next time, let’s be friends here:
Namaste, from Ananya