here, there, everywhere

My Other Mother

In Obituary on June 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Suman Goel, d. June 18, 2012

When I was living in Toronto I was fortunate that a family adopted me and took me in as their own.  Keep in mind I was already in my 30s with a fully alive, functioning, and awesome family back home.  Nevertheless, finding people who wanted to call me their own and treated me as such was a gift I’m fortunate to have received.

Suman Auntie became my mom-away-from-mom and she called me her fourth daughter.  She was Indian, I’m Caucasian.  She was just over 5′, I’m 5’8″.  Her feet were size 4, mine are 10.  She taught me to cook Indian food, how to wear a sari,  and introduced me to Hindi movies.  One night we sat in her closet surrounded by saris and Indian suits while she told me about meeting her husband for the first time and how after moving to Canada, having four kids, surviving illnesses and other hardships, he was still her best friend.  After dinners we’d watch Indian movies and I’d sit on the floor next to the couch and lie my head down on the armrest.  One day she started stroking my hair and said, “You like it here.”  She meant she liked it too.  The day after her second daughter’s wedding we were sitting around and reliving the previous day’s events.  I asked her if the day was worth it?  Her response was that it was and she wished a happy marriage for all her daughters, including me.

Suman Auntie’s heart and hospitality extended to anyone and everyone.  The house was always bustling with visitors because she liked it like that and so did they.  Even in the midst of the busyness there was a calm and peace that I think had everything to do with her.

Her first daughter, my university friend who brought me into the family, emailed to announce Auntie’s passing.  It was after a long and difficult illness and one that changed the family deeply.  But her legacy lives in each of her three daughters and son.  You’d only have to meet them to know what she was like.  To the whole family, thank you for allowing me to share in your mother’s life and for bringing me into the family.  She was an extraordinary woman.


Dear family and friends,

I can tell you the tales of woe that make up a life.  But why? Why not celebrate the triumphs instead?

Our beautiful and vibrant mother and wife passed away peacefully on Monday, June 18 after a heroic battle with a brain tumour.  While her last few weeks were defined by meds, beds and her crazy kids, the 57 years before that is what prepared her to wage this war.  When we’d ask, “why you?” she’d ask back, “why not me?”  Question for a question didn’t get us very far.  She didn’t shed a tear once in the entire year of her fight with cancer.  That’s not her style.  But boy did she worry…about everyone else, but that isn’t different from any other year of her life.

Here’s a few of the million things that make her so very special: She always sought the good in people, no matter their faults.  She found strength in the face of every trial and tribulation (and yes, she definitely had her lion’s share).  And she embraced every challenge as an opportunity to prove exactly what she’s made of (though she never recognized this in herself): A solid core of grit and guts and a whole lot of scrappiness, engulfed by a heart the size of the universe.  All who knew her well, loved her unconditionally.  But that’s because she loved wholeheartedly and welcomed everyone into her home and her heart as if they were her own.

 Suman Goel: wife, mother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, daughter, friend…

 That’s her legacy. And we will cherish, honour and love her for as long as we draw breath.

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