Pradeep K. Srivastava

August 31, 2003 Printer-friendly version Print Print this speech Download

Good morning everybody. Thanks for coming here today to share our grief and sorrow. For the benefit of those who didn't know my mother, I would like to say a few words about her background and then I would share with you how I personally feel about losing her.

She was born and raised, along with five brothers, in the family of an attorney in Gorakhpur, India, but she has been in the United States since 1978. She got married at the age of 18 to my father, who was an attorney. As a homemaker, she raised eight kids of her own along with four nephews and nieces. She was so passionate about education that not only she pushed us to excel in education, but also pushed herself to get a high school diploma and an intermediate degree when she was in her 40s. She was one of the precious few Indian women in her age group who could read, write, and speak English flawlessly.

She also believed in the importance of a close-knit family, even before "family values" became a catch phrase among the politicians. She was the linchpin that has kept together an extended family of over 100 people. She was an extremely loving, caring, nurturing, compassionate, and forgiving person, who always focused on a person's positive traits, while ignoring the negative ones.

Now let me tell you how I personally feel about losing my mother. I already lost my father about 32 years ago. So, now, for the first time in my life, I realize how a fatherless and motherless person really feels. It is awfully depressing to lose the very people who brought you into this world. However, on the positive side, although I cannot physically see my parents, I can still feel their presence in terms of what they taught me while they were still alive. My parents were completely opposite in their personalities and yet, worked as a team when it came to raising us. My father was more other-worldly than this-worldly, whereas, my mother was more this-worldly than other-worldly. Thus, both of them, together, taught me what our sages have taught us for thousands of years and that is, "Be in the world, but do'nt be of the world!". That principle, translated into actions, means, "Perform all your worldly duties humbly, selflessly, lovingly, and skillfully, as a service to God, without any emotional attachment to people, places, things, events, or even yourself."

I hope and pray to God to help me translate this principle into my actions. May my mother's soul rest in peace. That's all I have to say. Thanks for your time.