Maryam’s mom dies

Maryam woke me up this morning crying. “I want my mommy,” she wimpered. Last night her mom died after suffering a stroke on Monday.

There is nothing worse than not being able to do something about someone else’s pain. Mahin Ayatollahzadeh, Maryam’s mom, was always on my side and she was quite a special woman and I’m not saying that just because she was always on my side, even when I brought pain to the family.

Instead, listen to one of her doctors, who worked with her for six years after she couldn’t walk anymore due to an earlier brain tumor: “she was my nicest patient.”

I saw that up and close myself. Despite being dealt a harsh penalty by life (not being able to walk) she never had a harsh word. I never saw her angry. If she had disappointments it was that she couldn’t spend more time with her family.

Earlier in our marriage we had her live with us. Some of my friends joked around about that, saying they never would put up with their mother-in-law living with them. I never saw it as a bother because she was always so nice, not to mention she made the best meals I’ve ever had in my life (and I’ve eaten at some of the most famous restaurants with the most famous chefs, like Guy Savoy in Paris, and I’d trade all those for one of hers).

Her outlook on life came from harsh circumstances. As a woman she came from a society, Iran, where women were treated far harsher than here. She was married at 16 to someone her parents picked for her. Her country went through a devastating war, her home was bombed, she sent Maryam, my wife, away to a far-away land, America, when Maryam was 14.

But for me, I won’t remember her for all of her suffering, but for the smile she always had whenever I saw her, and for the endearing love of her children (and their love for her, her four kids made sure that she got a visit in the convalescent home every single day for six years which made an impression on me about what family actually should mean and that example always caused shame in my heart because I wasn’t behaving the same way toward my family, nor myself).

I’ve been praying this year and said a special one this morning. I’ll miss her.

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