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No matter how prepared you are, it is incredibly tough to let a loved one go. Last week, we bid adieu to our beloved Mother who has regaled us with her larger-than-life presence through 40 years of my life and 99 of hers. She lived a full life. She was ready to go, we knew she needed to go, and we needed to let her go. Still, when the end came, it was torturous to watch. We are incredibly grateful to hospice care for keeping her at peace and caring for her with dignity. They made her last journey more peaceful than we could have ever done.

These are the lessons that she taught me.

Lesson #1: Logic Prevails

Soon after Tarun and I were married, she asked me when I would call her "Ma". I went away to think about it for a while and then asked her a question: do you want me to call you Ma and treat you like my mother-in-law or do you want me to call you Pishi and treat you like my father's sister (that's what Pishi means). Now it was her turn to walk away and ponder. She came back and said: call me Pishi. And so I did. The lesson she taught me is that you can think through any problem logically, math after all was her favorite subject.

Lesson #2: Blind Faith is Essential

She would happily put us in the crosshairs when it came to the grandkids. She would sacrifice us (her own children!) like lambs as long as our kids were in a winning position. We couldn't love her nearly as much as the grandkids; they could never do wrong; they were always "first" (even when they were near last); and they would take care of her always. The hidden lesson is that blind faith rewards handsomely. In our case, the grandkids believed grandma could do no wrong either.

Lesson #3: Take it Well

My mother-in-law is the most resilient person I know. When she was ornery, she was capable of being incisive. We would react with sharp words too, but she rarely spiraled into sadness. She would hit us back with gleeful vengeance until we were the ones crying uncle. On rare occasions when the kids were 1 and mother was 0, her sadness lasted only for a few minutes until she was ready to go again! The point is that having extremely thick skin and being able to dish and take are the secret ingredients to a long life.

Lesson #4: Give Freely, Take Sparsely

She was a "giver". You could have anything she owned. She would give it to you instantly and happily. She rarely asked for anything from us. And when she wanted something, it was inevitably for someone else. I don't think I will ever be that evolved even if I try. I constantly admired how she never wanted to impose or inconvenience anybody - not even for a cup of tea. "Only if you are having" is what she would say.

Lesson #5: Don't Burn Any Bridges

This was the hardest to follow but she embodied this every day in every way. Don't burn bridges, don't fight with anybody. Even when they are wrong, don't raise your voice. Love without reservations. She used to worry that we wouldn't comply and often quizzed us on whether we had any troubles in the family. She had a keen sense of when potential trouble was brewing. While our natural instinct is self-preservation at all cost, her memory will teach us to be mellow and patient.

As we wish you adieu and say till we see you again: watch over us unconditionally, make sure we are the best version of ourselves and help us preserve the relationships we are invested in. And then, rest in peace, find happiness, and paint the heavens in the brightest colors of your brilliant smile and personality.

In the end, you were indeed more Ma than Pishi to me. Gather up strength so that we can dance when we meet again.

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