Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Eulogy of Sangeeta Ohri, my mother

This is the text of the Eulogy delivered at the Special Mass for our mother, on Fri, Oct 1 at Holy Cross Church, Kurla West, Mumbai. My elder brother, Sanjay, said this on behalf of the two of us...

Good Evening,

On behalf of our family, we would first like to thank everyone for taking the time out to attend this mass and pay your last respects to our mother and would just like to share a few words about her.

In addition to being a good mother, she was also our friend and guide with a very caring disposition and great courage. That one word "courage" was evident throughout her life because when she was born, her father had already passed away and when she was only 6 months old, her mother passed away. She was raised by her grandmother who had a positive influence on her life.

During her school years, she was active in dramatics, sports and dancing. For those who remember, in Thane,  she was also known as the "Galyan Sakhli" girl. Courage again surfaced when she had a love marriage with my father but against all odds, she raised us with the best of education, upbringing and values.

She was a very caring person and her style of showing appreciation and care was unique. It was this care that enabled her to look after handicapped, preschool and underprivileged children for almost 40 years selflessly (all volunteer work) in the capacity of a being a principal, organizer, teacher and mentor. She often referred to the kids she worked with as "my children" and she was well-loved by their families as well.

She was very humble when she received many awards for her social service and community work, including a recognition in Who's Who in the World / America / American Women (for the last 10 years) and an Award for Women's Welfare. But being a grassroots worker, she preferred to involve herself in her work quietly than seek any merit or publicity.

If one were to list her accomplishments, we would be here a long while and some of it included training teachers, conducting global workshops, seminars, conferences, courses in education and rehabilitation of normal/handicapped children, as well as underprivileged persons.

Some of the organizations she was associated with (and was an active member) were S.E.C. (Society for the Education of the Crippled) Day School, I.A.P.E. (Indian Association for Pre-school Education), B.C.J. General Hospital (Santa Cruz), All India Balkan-ji-Bari, Bombay Vigilance Association, O.M.E.P., Soroptomist International, YWCA, Poona Women's Council and many more.

Having lived in India and the USA for many years, she was an excellent communicator (fluent in over 7 languages) and had a sense of great understanding of different cultures and always served as a role model for  those who needed help in bridging the gap between East and West. She was a great cook as some of you know and it gave her great happiness to feed people. Needless to say, she was a very helpful person and if you ever needed help and turned to her, she would never refuse anyone.

She wore her heart on her sleeve and if she liked anything, she shared it with everyone and if she didn't like anything and she loved you, she felt it was better to tell you things that you need to know for your own good! But she never gave up her caring spirit till the end - which again surfaced when she was at Lourdes and she was so happy at being able to make this pilgrimage that she lit a candle for each of you that she knew and also prayed for all departed souls.

In the few days after she passed away, there were French, Italian and English masses offered in Lourdes at various churches by different international groups (including the Lourdes' hospitality organization that manages all the shrines at Lourdes). On October 17th, the Vatican has approved the canonization of Brother Andre to be a saint (he's the one who started the St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal – it’s the largest cathedral in North America). On that day in Rome, during his canonization to be a Saint, the mass will be offered in memory of our mother.

It's probably these silver linings that we can force ourselves to accept the reason of her departure from this world and we believe that she is in eternal healing of Our Lady of Lourdes. Maybe, God, destiny and Mom herself would not have had it any other way.

May her soul rest in peace and God give us all the strength to handle this irreparable loss. Incidentally, Mom made it a point that people never went hungry when they came to meet her, so today in spirit she has ensured the same. Please join us for some light refreshments after mass.

Thank you once again for all your support and God bless.

1 comment:

BK Chowla, said...

May her souls rest in peace.
I know she was a wonderful lady and we --as a family--spent a lot of time together.
She was a great woman.