When you get married, you don’t just marry the man. You marry his family. The vice versa holds true too. It’s a marriage of two families. And, in our case, different cultures.
My parents are both Malayali. My mother-in-law is half Malayali and half Anglo-Indian and while my father-in-law is Goan.
It’s funny when I look back at how Ryan and I came together to become one. I was not looking to get married outside the community.
And yet, when Ryan came along, everything fell into place. It was so easy that you begin to believe in destiny. Like everyone makes way for both of you to be together in matrimony.
Anyway, one of the closest relatives from my husband’s side comes from my mother-in-law’s side. Her first cousin, Aunty Della, as we fondly called her. She’s been a part of the family ever since we got engaged.
She was the one who raised a toast for both our engagement and marriage. She was the first from my husband’s side of the family to see Nadine when she was born. She was always there as family and well-wisher for all the ups and downs in our home.
A. Della and my in-laws go back a long way. They’ve blossomed from childhood buddies to adulthood and well, into old age. It’s a beautiful relationship to witness for me. It makes you believe in love. All forms of it – organic, resilient and unconditional.
What I’ve loved about Aunty Della the most was her child-like quality. She was in the travel industry and has traveled extensively around the world. And she’s been a politician, having been nominated twice as MLA. She’s been closely associated with the Catholic Church Association, ever since her mother, Marjorie Godfrey founded it.
She’s had such rich, diverse experiences with different people in her lifetime and yet, she was child-like till the end. Always giving, lending a patient ear to all and sundry, sporting a gentle smile and an aura of approachability and acceptance.
People saw her as a natural leader because of her inborn humane qualities. As their leader. And she stood up for each and everyone in her community and outside. Her heart and the home was open to everyone. Anyone could walk in with their problems and she would keenly listen. Empathize and take action. Whatever she could do in her capacity.
She lived life on her terms. She was answerable to no one except God. That’s what I loved about her as well. She was what she was. An open book. Okay with judgment and kind to people always. She was fearless that way.
I loved how she drove her car well into her late sixties. With her health problems and cataract, she still drove around the city. She was fiercely independent.
She loved to dress up and sport a bright lipstick till her end. A natty dresser, she was beautiful inside-out.
She left this world on 23 April 2019 due to a sudden cardiac attack a week earlier.
When she was battling for her life in the hospital, I was praying and hoping she would survive. All of us were rooting for her survival. Not just because she was our relative. But because the world needs more such people.
People who made you feel at home and at peace with the world. People who brightened up the room as soon as they walked into a room. People who are patient even with the most difficult people and accepting of all kinds.
She loved people. And people loved her.
While the news of her demise has left many of us shocked and numb, we’ve made peace that this was God’s will. We’ve made peace that we crossed paths with this beautiful and gentle soul.
We are grateful for the legacy that she’s left behind.
The legacy of love, truth, and courage that she’s left behind for all those who’ve met and known her.
She had a grand funeral with a church attendance that could outnumber the best of Christian weddings. It goes to show how many lives she touched with her genuine, caring ways. It was an intense, teary affair. The funeral service was telecast live and attended by family and friends around the world.
She came, she saw, she conquered our hearts!
RIP, sweet Aunty Della!
Life moves on …
And Aunty Della’s legacy lives on.