February 23rd, 2005: As I was getting ready to come back to Seattle, I went over Mamaan-Afsaneh’s house to see her one more time and say bye. We chatted for a couple of hours, drank some tea, shared some old stories, and a few laughs. On the way out while she was playfully staring at me, she shared a wicked blink, a head tilt, and a moment of silence. Then, she leaned forward, patted my shoulder, and with a trembling voice whispered into my ear "What if we don’t see each other again!?"
When I was a young boy, I remember my parents used to take my brother, my sister, and I to my grandmother’s house every Friday evening. Those old happy days when all we thought about was: what meaningless subject to laugh at, next! My youngest aunt, Afsaneh, who is only six years older than me was the boss — telling us what to do, where to sit, and what game to play. The common story of those days, which to this day all of my cousins make fun of, is: no matter what Kamran ate or how much, he was always craving Bread and Cheese as soon as he walked in to Mamaan-Afsaneh’s house. My grandmother’s house that is.
Mamaan-Afsaneh (my dad’s mom) was a retired high-school principal. My mom used to be one of the teachers in the high-school where Mamaan-Afsaneh was working! Mamaan-Afsaneh was the role-model for most of the women in the family. My aunts and a few of my cousins went down the same path to become teachers and principals! Mamaan-Afsaneh was strong, opinionated, and at times hesitant to show emotions. She would communicate thru analogies that could be far from the facts, and at times, needed extensive amount of thinking and comprehension to grasp. She was very logical, wise, and in most occasions unrighteously right – but no one ever heard her saying "I told you so". A few years after she had divorced my grandfather, she married another gentleman whose life didn’t last long, sadly, so she ended up living most of her life as a single mother of five acting as both parents.
… many years went by in the same way more or less …
I was twelve when Afsaneh, the youngest child of my grandmother left her house to go abroad and live in Paris! Mamaan-Afsaneh felt very lonely all of a sudden … then one day and after a long conversation between my parents and I, we all decided that I leave my parents house and start living with my grandmother. My mom was very worried that my rebellious nature needed constant supervision and so she wanted to make sure that Mamaan-Afsaneh is aware of the fact. When my mom communicated her concerns to my grandmother, with a confident tone and dignified look, Mamaan-Afsaneh responded to my mom’s apprehension by saying "Don’t Worry! I have taken care of two hundred kids like him in the high-school!".
During those years living with Mamaan-Afsaneh, I became closer and closer to her … so much so that she made sure we always had bread and cheese in the house, and also to my surprise, she never revealed to my parents that I had girlfriends. I obviously got to know her directly and without any influence! I came to realize that my grandmother was truly a loving, caring, and sensitive mother who had always been worried about her children’s happiness and well-being. Her strong persona was reflective of the fact that she had to do all the work by herself and without any help.
After almost six years living with my grandmother, I left her house to go abroad and live in a foreign country, too! She was not very happy about me leaving because she could no more have any of her then-fairly-grownup grandchildren to live with her. I had a guilty-conscience leaving her but she was constantly and considerately reminding me "You must go and take care of your education". Leaving Mamaan-Afsaneh’s house was practically the end of my daily interaction with her. Afterwards, I only had the opportunity to see her once or twice in a few years when I went back to Tehran for a visit.
Fatimah Khosro-Bayge (a.k.a. Mamaan-Afsaneh) was born on December of 1921 in Tehran. She passed away peacefully on the morning of April 1st, 2007 in her own house having all of her children at her side! Most of her grandchildren and great grandchildren were able to be around during her last days. I’m her second eldest grandchild and I was not there! My visit of February 2005 happened to be the last time I saw Mamaan-Afsaneh. She was characteristically, and yet again, right!! After all, Mamaan-Afsaneh and I didn’t get to see each other again. I now have to wait to see her in the better place, but I wonder, if this time she’s going to say "I told you so"
Kamran – this is incredible. You know what it is and what it means to be family, and ‘know’ your family. I am so sorry for your recent loss and you should be so fulfilled that this person has touched your heart in a way that will contribute to the wonderful person you are today.