Its already been two weeks since your birthday on the 11.11.12. You turned 75 a fortnight ago - having seen - by God's grace - 75 spins around our nearest star.
Many have risen and called you blessed. I would like to add my voice to the chorus.
Let me start by a conversation we had this week with a young couple from church. They are facing the joys and challenges of raising 2 small kids. They wanted to know what our experience was like with Asha and Enoch. I found myself going back again and again to the structures and love and prayers that you and Dad had for the 3 of us growing up. Who we are is because of the love that you poured into us. Its only now as parents that we even begin to get a glimpse of all that you were for us as kids.
I think back to the journey that you have taken across this 3/4 century. The early years in the collapse of the 3rd Reich - with you being separated from your parents for 2 years as a 6 year old - as the allied bombs rained down on German cities - including of course Leipzig.
I marvel at how you stayed sane in the post-war-rubble years where the grey German sky was mirrored in the lie-puppet-republic that was the 'German Democratic (sic) Republic.' You kept your head - and headed out as soon as you could to freedom.
I am amazed at how you found yourself as a young German woman in Britain so soon after the war. Learning English. Cleaning houses. And then over to France for more of the same. Then Spain.
I thank God for the amazing experience you had - the awakening of the joy of Jesus - that swept over you as you came across the statement in Mark's Gospel - 'what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?' You took Jesus at His word then - and have continued to do so 51 years later! How blessed we are that you gave yourself fully to your loving Lord. Trully - (s)he who loses his life for my sake will gain it. You are living proof of that!
As you joined the bunch of earnest, merry, all-or-nothing folks that STL/OM were in those days - your paths took you through northern Italy, over to Turkey and then by mini-van over to India in 1964.
Thank you for coming here and being the most amazing wife to dear Dad. You two are so very very different - and yet your love for each other and the hard lessons you have learned form the bedrock for our identity.
What can I say about all the people that we have seen you pour yourself into? Wherever we go we bump into folks who remember your love. Whose lives have been shaped by who you were to them.
We are now at an age that you were at the height of your activities at Nana Chowk. Its hard not to compare - and we try not to - but when we do slip into looking at what you were doing at our ages... all we can say is 'thank you Lord!'
Your life has hardly been easy. Many areas of blood, sweat and tears (as Dad promised you when you proposed to each other). Many places where you have seen the dark night of the soul. And yet through it all you have retained an inherent wonder at things. Your child-like joy is infectious - how we enjoy your joy at the blue flash of a bird flitting by, the latest orange cactus bloom in your garden, the raucous toot of a 7th grader who has just joined jazz-band... You are fan No. 1 for so many - out of a genuine wonder and delight in all things bright and beautiful.
Over these past (almost 13) years of Sheba and my life together you have been such an amazing blessing to us. We remember you and Dad being with us at Asha's birth - with Sis. Kachhap calling out 'Dadi, dadi' to tell you that you were now a grand-mother. And over the years your prayers and visits and weekly phone-calls have helped us pull through. Our one wish is that we were not 1.703.6 kms apart!
On our annual pilgrimages to Shanti Kunj over the last few years - we have seen you go into a whirlwind of hospitality - guarding us like a mother bear from unwanted outsiders - at pains that we get as much sleep and leisure as possible. Its come at the cost of us listening to you. Hearing what is in your heart. Will we ever really be able to say all that needs to be said? Time seems so strangely bendable. Words seem to slip away just when you need them most. Perhaps distance is the best place for appreciation as we still live in a time where we only see through the mirror darkly?
But let us state this and underline it. We are so grateful for you. For who you are. For whom you have become. For the largish bits and pieces of us that have been shaped and formed by your hands and heart over the years. Words will never do justice - perhaps only our following in the paths that you have trodden before us - and us moving forward in the directions you shot us out into - and seeing that our next gen goes even further - perhaps that may be one way of expressing our thanks to God for you.
Pandita Ramabai said that 'A life totally committed to God has nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to regret.' Mum - we see so much of that in your life. And that too we have seen it up very very close. How much we want our lives to echo this too.
There is so much more to say. But beyond the words there is so much more to live.
We love you very much,
Andi and Sheba, Asha and Enoch