I've been on somewhat of a pilgrimage this last few weeks, back to this woman, my sassy, just turned 90yo Grandma. My mother's mother, I was an egg inside my mother when this wonderful woman was carrying her, breathing & flowing life into us both.
Grandma was widowed at the young age of 29. A few years prior, she had been excluded from completing her nursing studies when she had married my Grandfather. She was in her final year and the top student. It was the norm at the time, studying under NZ, for women to leave study and concentrate on “family life”. When my Grandfather died, she prayed every day for a way to support her two daughters and by chance, was given the rare opportunity to return to study. She had to start again day one, year one. Her daughters, in the care of a loving Aunt and Uncle, were able to have opportunities for education in which they both excelled.
Grandma more than supported her daughters. She has supported their daughters and sons as well - five granddaughters and 6 grandsons collectively. Towards the end of her nursing career, she moved from Samoa to New Zealand - not long after my parents, siblings and I had moved to NZ. She lived with us, sharing a room with my twin sister and I. Over the years, she would move between my Mum's and my Aunt's family depending on which daughter had the newest baby.
It was she who walked us to school and kept our mother tongue ringing in our ears. It was she that a 5 yo me would stumble towards if I woke on a stormy night.
And it is she who is my greatest role model of bhakti. In my mind, bhakti is in essence, the pathway which invites love into our relationship with all beings, all states of being, and all that is – within ourselves and outside of ourselves.
Grandma and I have different words for this but we understand the language of it. Because, thanks to her, I know the divinity that exists through grace, love and devotion. I often draw on her example of Dasyam (Service), Kirtanam (Speaking) and Archanam (Prayer). Every morning sitting up in her bed, the first words she chooses to express are words of devotion and gratitude through prayer and hymn. I listen as a grateful, humble student 😘
Cabramatta, New South Wales, Australia