Thursday, June 7, 2007

My Grandmother Banoo

I got the email from my uncle. My grandmother passed away last night at 91. It was a bit of a surprise. Her mother passed away a few years ago at 106. So, I think we all expected my grandmother to be around for many more years. When my parents left Iran in the 1960’s to pursue the American dream, the family felt I, at a year old, was too young to accompany them, so I stayed in Iran under my grandmother’s care. When she delivered me to my parents a couple of years later, she was my mother to me. My earliest memory is of the flight we took together from Iran to America.

Her life was full, and like the life of everyone in a developing country, it had its share of tragedy, children lost to accidents and illnesses. In midlife, she immigrated with my grandfather to Canada, that great country that welcomed with open arms people from around the world. Canada was her home, and it was there that she passed away last night. Even when she was in her 70’s and her mother in her 90’s, they would go sweetly together, their big leather purses in hand, to adult English classes, eager to learn. She never became fluent, but she could get by. She kept the habits of the old country. She persistently bargained with any cashier at the Safeway to give her a better price on the fruit she was buying on a given day. And she cooked. When I think of her, she’s often standing before a massive pot of bubbling Persian food, the aroma filling the neighborhood, her fingers holding a knife, chopping onions on a well worn cutting board.

For the past few years, it seemed our conversations on the phone were a series of missed words. Her mind remained sharp, but her hearing a bit far away. I feel closer to her now that her spirit has joined the Concourse that surrounds us.

Her genes will run through the generations of our family, but more importantly we’ll remember her for her courage in the face of massive changes, and we’ll remember her with the food we eat. Tonight, I’m going to make some of her yogurt. And if you wish, remember my Grandmother Banoo with a prayer and celebrate her rich life with bowl of her yogurt.


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Sorry about your Grandmother, David. Thanks for the yogurt recipe.

Deece said...

I'm sorry about your Grandmother, but it's wonderful that you can make a batch of yogurt and keep her close in your heart.

I read your yogurt article when it was printed, but I misplaced my paper and was never able to make it. Thank you for posting it here, I will say a prayer and make a batch of yogurt in your Grandmother's memory.

marianas life said...

wow, what a great story. my great grandmother was like your grama banoo. she was the matriarch and food was central. i have trivet in my kitchen that say "this house is blessed with food and butter" in Swedish. I posted about limpe bread back in Nov. check out the archives if you're interested. food is an amazing thing and the act of sharing it with others is very powerful. i love yogurt too(espec. with cucumbers:) i even brought a yogurt maker withme. found it second hand. but its just like the one my mom used when i was a kid. my dad made it in jars when he lived in egypt.

haven't made any in a while. would you be willing share some as start for my next batch?