I wish I could be there with you tonight, celebrating. I won’t bore you with the practical explanation of why I can’t; you know about my new job (which is going well, by the way).
For your 77th birthday, we put together a video for you, and I (embarrassingly) sang you a song – called “Time of your Life”. Not high poetry, perhaps, but it captured what I wanted to; the moments of a life well-lived, an absence of regrets — it was a tribute to our resident Matriarch, inexpertly phrased by a punk rock band.
Tonight, well, tonight I just wanted to remind you of your legacy. It’s easy, when looking at our family — at any family — to focus on the squabbles, the troubles, the hurts, pains and difficulties. But I tell you (to borrow a catchphrase from my Father) – and I admit this is easy to do with the benefit of 5,000 miles of perspective, but sometimes that helps — when I look at us, it’s difficult to tell the Angels from the Saints.
Your children are wonderful people – the incredible skill and dexterity of Vijayan, the force and warmth of Anthony’s personality, the power of Nirme’s compassion, the seemingly inexhaustible patience and energy of Sharmilla, Gerry’s laugh, Sushi’s tenacity, Ann’s brilliance and Johnny’s unbridled and infectious enthusiasm for life — to crudely pick one characteristic from each of your offspring. And their wives and husbands – extraordinary people every one.
I guess now is as good a time as any, Grandma, to take stock and look at what you’re leaving the world. Your amazing children and their amazing spouses have extended the legacy, passed the torch, to us now, and we carry it high: proud of who we are, where we come from, and the Grandmother who saw us all into the world. You guided us all through our earliest difficulties, and taught us the beauty and aesthetic appreciation of something as apparently simple as a pineapple tart.
I love you Grandma, and I miss you all tonight. Our family, even at its worst, but especially at its best, is an incredibly powerful force, a social phenomenon, and one for which we have you to thank.