Update: Photos are now up. The galleries are below… please stay tuned for more to come.
Thank you all for paying your respects to my incredible, beautiful mother. Here is the donation link, if you would like to contribute to the early education project in West Bengal, India in my mom’s name:
The homeless feeding in my mom’s honor will be held on Sunday, March 1. If you are interested in helping out, please contact me for details.
Here are a few photos from the memorial service courtesy of my good friend Bill Lohr, as well as some photos from the slideshow dedicated to her beautiful life (next gallery):
Slideshow dedicated to Mom:
I have also posted a tribute to Ma on the main page of this site. Below is the transcript of my speech at the memorial service, for anyone who was interested but missed the event:
A Speech For Ma
by Tanaya Ghosh
First, thank you all for being here. The support has been incredible during the most trying time in my life.
I never thought I’d be here so early in life giving this speech about my mom, who was always perfect and invincible in my eyes. Her spirit still is.
From as long as I could remember, my mother did all she could to give me the best childhood imaginable. She set a strong foundation for who I have become today.
She did this in many ways. By taking me to the library regularly, where I would spend hours picking out the perfect books. I got my unquenchable thirst for learning from her, and my love of writing.
She taught me dedication and commitment by taking me to my weekly Kathak classes for 10 years. I wasn’t always very fond of going to practice, but I did like to perform. She stayed firm and urged me to stick to it, and I learned what it takes to work hard for things that are worth it.
Her trust and confidence in me was unwavering, always. Believe it or not, I was shy like her when I was younger, as those who have known me from way back know. But somewhere along the way, due to life experiences, I learned to come out of my shell. I got bolder in exploring all that life has to offer, regardless of my secret fears that I must admit I still have, to this day.
My mom taught me to be smart, responsible and confident in my abilities. With that faith in me, she supported me wholeheartedly in my adventures around the world, from volunteering in the Costa Rican rainforest to working abroad in Hong Kong. Her main desire was always my happiness and growth, even if that meant I was halfway across the world at times.
Even though, as I grew older, I deviated from the way she was (gentle and more reserved), she not only supported me but enjoyed living vicariously through me in whatever I did… from doing a radio show to pursuing my degree in public relations, from becoming a food editor to launching my blog in the time I took off to spend by her side… a decision I will never regret.
As I got more opportunities in pursuing my passions, she was the number one person I wanted by my side through the wild journey. She would always be my first choice for whom to take as my plus one when covering an event… she really was my best friend. She even helped me film some of my videos. She would sometimes get frustrated with my perfectionism in getting the shot right, but she helped in any way she could, and she did it for me. It was my secret mission to get her out of the house more and experience new things in life, and I’m so glad we got to spend so much time together exploring new things.
As I got older, through life’s letdowns, heartbreaks and troubling times, she became my confidante, number one supporter, protector and source of strength. During my darkest times, when it felt like the whole world had turned its back on me, the one person who gave me hope and a reason to live was my mom. Just hearing her voice on the other end of the phone… whether unwaveringly supporting me, or telling me like it is when I needed to hear it, she was always just what I needed and more.
I still remember the night my world started to crumble. I was finishing up a 13 hour workday at the office, ready to work the Catalina Film Festival, and was feeling on top of the world… like everything was going right for once. I called mom to let her know I would be starting my 40 mile commute home, but by the extra gentle way she greeted me, I should have known something was wrong… that she was just being strong for me.
I came home to learn the unthinkable… that my invincible, perfect mother had been diagnosed with cancer. My dad I and reeled, our worlds turned upside down. And what did she do? She stayed strong for us for the remaining 15 months of her life. Throughout the entire emotional and physical roller coaster, she took it all with a smile and always asked how others were doing when they came to visit her. Such incredible inner strength from such a sweet, kindhearted person.
She was everybody’s favorite, from the dentist to her oncologist, to the vet to the Trader Joe’s cashier. I am so glad we got that last year to show her just how much we loved her. Me, my dad, our relatives and the entire community of friends surrounding us. My mom, who had always given and given without expecting anything in return from anyone, was so touched by everyone showing their appreciation for her. And I am so glad she got to know how much she meant to us all before she was taken from us.
Mom, I will miss the little things, like how you would pick out the absolute perfect greeting card for the person and the occasion. We would spend an hour at the store when I was younger and I would get annoyed. I later saw how much the right words can warm people’s hearts.
She was never one to embrace the newest technology, opting for a book instead… I remember teaching her how to text when my dad finally convinced her to get a smartphone. I thanked her in great length for the delicious food, as usual, that she had sent with me to my grad school apartment. Her response to my lengthy text message was…. “ok.” And another time she wrote an entire sentence as one word, as she had forgotten where the space bar was! What I would do to get another text from her.
She started to learn Spanish with our urging, once she accepted an iPad into her life. She always had a knack for language, holding a Master’s degree in English… so she caught on very quickly. She was excited to recover so she could go back to work and talk to some of her students in Spanish.
As a big foundation of what I do today, I also got my love of cooking and food from her. She didn’t like to cook elaborate things often, but she would be my accomplice in many food adventures we had together. Holiday baking each December for family and friends, or a full course meal for a special occasion… some of my fondest memories involved my mom and our kitchen.
She was everyone’s timekeeper. I would often run late, so she would sit and talk with my friends while I finished getting ready. Then, as I rushed out the door, she would say “have fun!” …and then ask if I had my keys, or jacket, or whatever it was that I probably did forget. I would rush back in and say “mom, what would I do without you?” I don’t know now what I will do without her… not just for this reason, but for so many reasons.
The best parts of going out somewhere was that as I pulled out of the driveway, she would — without fail — be at the window… waving goodbye to me, waiting to hear all about my adventures when I returned. Now that window is empty.
She also enjoyed all the treats I would bring back for her from all my food adventures for my work and on outings with friends around SoCal. Her eyebrows would dance and she would really relish the things she liked.
My grandmother and mom’s younger brother always said that she was so obedient and never went out of line or rebelled. Although I turned out to be a little more rebellious, my mom never loved me any less for it.
People say I laugh a lot, and smile a lot. I tell them, you should meet my mom. Mom, with your selfless and loving spirit, look at the friends and family you cultivated for yourself, and for us. The support we’ve had has been amazing, and I am truly grateful. Once again, mom left everything in place without even knowing it. Just by being her.
In her final months, her voice softened with me more than ever. I can still feel her playing with my ponytail in the hospital, with my head in her lap just laying there and enjoying her presence. Trying to soak up a lifetime of mom in just a couple more weeks that we had with her. Trying to freeze time.
How could it be that I was the one taking care of you so soon? I saw the appreciation in your eyes, but really it was the least I could do… I learned from the best in how to take care of others, but I would do anything especially for you, the woman who not only gave me life, but raised me with an unbelievable amount of love, patience, trust and dedication. I, too, lived and breathed for my mom… the center of my universe.
Sometimes I question why her, although she never asked this question herself. She was the epitome of a health nut, as I remember watching “Dark Wing Duck” in the kids’ daycare at the gym while she went to her regular Aerobics class. I was the kid with the brown bread in preschool, and as I grew up my mom and I nerded out over reading Health & Prevention magazines. She cooked all the “right” foods for our family (garlic, onion, turmeric… and all the antioxidant-filled foods), and we used to go to the gym regularly together. No family history… yet cancer still happened. Life is just so crazy and I’m scared to live the rest of it without you, mom, quite honestly.
I still wonder why she was taken so soon from us all, since the world could use more exceptional people like her… but then I try to remember what I now realize: She was an angel here on earth, and we were blessed to have her with us and to know her for any amount of time that we did. Although I lost my mom in my 20’s, I had such a unique and special bond with her that is so hard to come by, no matter how long one lives. If quality over quantity is really the best thing, I consider myself fortunate. I am so incredibly lucky to call the woman whom we are all here for today my mom.
Although it breaks my heart that she will never be able to see my wedding, or see her grandchildren, all I can do to make sure that my kids know their incredible grandmother is to show them stories, pictures, videos… and just try my best to be the kind of mother she was to me. Although I am a work in progress, if I can be half the woman my mom was, that’s all I can hope for.
Every happy occasion in my life from now on will have a deep sadness to it… but I know she always wanted me to thrive, and to be as happy as I can be, whatever way that may be. Now I will try to do just that, not only for myself, but for the two of us. Some days, that is the only strength I have to go on. I love you Ma, and I hope I will always make you proud until the day we meet again, my best friend.
I ask that you all please keep the memories of my mom alive within you, by sharing your stories today and long after. And most importantly, remember to carry at least a few of the many lessons she taught us all during her time here:
– Smile often. Laugh often.
– Material things mean nothing. For her, as long as her family and friends were happy and healthy, she was content. She took pleasure in the small things, like her afternoon tea.
– Life really is short, so never stop telling those you love how much they mean to you… and you’ll never regret spending “too much” quality time with those who truly matter.
Now we’ll be taking a break from the speeches and songs with this slideshow… special thanks to Sumita for working so hard to help me put this together, and to my dad for taking so many photos all our lives. Even though Ma and I would often get frustrated on our many family trips around the country and world, thanks to you we have all these visual memories.
We hope that you continue to hold Prateeti Ghosh in your hearts and memories to continue to honor her spirit and keep her legacy alive.
Please stay tuned for photos and a short video recap of some parts of the ceremony.
Tanaya, Sid and Family