Lessons from my Grandmother
Written by: Abeeda
There is a truth in the statement that our elders are a source of blessing. Their mere presence may be an anchor, a place of stability when you feel the world around you crumbling.
I lost my beautiful grandmother only weeks ago; she had lived a long and remarkable life, so we knew that this was inevitable, yet her departure from our lives still broke the old and the young amongst us.
Now that a few weeks have passed, I am forcing myself to reflect on why her expected passing impacted us so profoundly.
When I introspect, the recurrent hope I have for myself is to live a life that is immersed in the remembrance of God. I long for such an existence, but my Nan–she had perfected that existence. Her every greeting, her every statement, her everything, began with “bismillah” (“In the name of God”).
I recall one of my teachers speaking about this one Arabic word and the weight of its meaning. When a believer offers this prayer, many things happen–they consciously intend their action to be for the sake of their Lord, they hope that their Lord will accompany them on whatever it is they embark upon, and they hope to attain His blessings. My Nan was always willing God’s blessings and presence into our lives. God was her sole savior, and she wanted that salvation for each of us.
Every time she prayed for us, she did so from the depths of her heart–she willed goodness upon goodness upon us, and knew that one day, when we needed it the most, her prayers would find us, by the Will of God.
Her Graciousness & Generosity
My Nan was a formidable woman; she had a presence that instantly won hearts, but more so, earned respect. She possessed core principles that she held to firmly throughout her life. She believed in honoring a trust, and so she became trusted. She loved for others more than what she loved for herself. When she offered advice, she did so out of a place of true concern, like a mother to her offspring. She lived a life of poverty, but she would never allow her guests to leave without receiving the treatment of kings; she would have seen her own stomach empty, and willingly filled those of the people around her.
She had no love for this world and its empty existence; her heart’s vision was fixated on her eternal home, and so she was blessed with a generosity that knew no bounds. During her last few days, I will never forget how she went to put her hands in her pockets, and gesture an act of giving to my sister, who was sat embracing her. That was my Nan: she gave and gave and gave, having mastered the belief that our expectations lie solely in God, and it is from Him that we will be given our due return.
My Nan notoriously had endured a difficult life; she suffered much hardship during her young years, but none of this hardship ever caused her heart to fall into an embittered state. When I think of her now, I see with such vividness how she embodied the words of God: “If you are thankful, I will increase You.” No matter her situation, she was always seen with a smile and an “alhamdulillah” (All praise and thanks is due to God)–always.
Nothing could deter her from recognizing that she was blessed, reminding us all of the power of a positive mindset when facing life’s inevitable adversities.
Through the course of receiving condolences, the recurrent characteristic that many mentioned about my Nan was how she was always smiling sweetly, and was never weighed down by the burdens she carried.
My Nan had been plagued by that awful illness, dementia. It slowly stole her away from us, leaving only her physical presence, and the subtle resurfacing of her beauty in a brief smile, or sweet prayer said with sincerity. Despite becoming increasingly lost around familiar faces, she never lost her link with God. In the early decline of her disease, she would pray the same prayer numerous times, she would read the Qur’an, endlessly, she would have prayer beads rolling constantly, in fact, she would have 2 or 3 spare sets of beads in her pocket or around her neck, having forgotten they were there! She may have forgotten that the man and woman in front of her were her own children, but she never forgot her love for God.
During her last days, when her body was aching under the weight of the pangs of death, she lifted her arms, motioning the actions of wudhu (ritual cleansing before prayer); she was always readying herself for her meeting with God.
People always say, “You depart this life in the way you lived it.” Well, my Nan spent her life worshiping God. She was no scholar in faith; she simply knew God in the sincerest of ways, as her anchor through life. Her aim was to meet Him, one day.
In the immediate aftermath of my Nan’s loss, I saw just how diversely she touched the lives of others. From young children to her own peers, she left no heart untouched. People traveled from afar to be present as her intercessors. It was our turn to return the sincerity with which she loved each of us.
My Nan had perfected the prophetic manner of making every single person she spoke to feel like the most important and beloved person in the world. Child or adult, she would be present with you and give you her undivided attention. Her face lit up with her beautiful smile as she spoke to you, and through such sincerity, she stole a piece of every heart that ever had the honor of knowing her.
So it is our turn to honor her with our prayers, to continue her legacy of graciousness and generosity, and to be ever thankful to God for blessing us with her as a gift in our lives. May we worship Him with the same sincerity with which she did, so that we may all be united with our loved ones, eternally, in Heaven. Ameen.
Leave a Comment