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Married

Married.

I am married. I am a wife. I have a husband. Oh, and I am in Australia. Australia?!  Never in a million years would I have imagined these turn of events in my life.

But alhumdulillah. He is the best of planners.

2014, indeed, proved to be the worst of times and the best of times.

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (30:21)

On a side note: Most people move from house to house. I apparently move from country to country. From Pakistan to Canada to the USA to now Australia. 

Please keep Faisal and me in your prayers/duas.

Thank you

Alhumdulillah what an amazing fun-filled extended weekend full of family and friends.

 

First and foremost, I couldn’t start this off without thanking everyone, far and near, that partook in the “pre-wedding celebration” on Sunday and all of the weekend’s celebrations. From the wonderful surprise bridal shower on Friday, the dholki/dinner event Javed Chachoo, Chotti Anna and Imran hosted on Saturday for me, and the absolutely amazing “Pre-Wedding Celebration” Sunday night to start off the festivities… it was the most amazing weekend full of so many memories. I appreciate it, more than I could ever articulate. Anyone and everyone who knows me know how much I cherish family time. And what a basket-case of emotions I am.

I have always said how much I absolutely love how close-knit our family is, alhumdulillah, but this year especially you all have made me feel loved and cared for in immeasurable ways. Your concern and duas got me through the toughest of the days. But your heartfelt joy in celebrating the good days with me have been just as strong.

I can’t believe in such a short time, alhumdulillah, I’ll be married [inshAllah].



To Abu and Ami: Thank you.

For always pushing me to do my best.
For letting me do things at my pace.
For giving me the space I need.
For always believing in me.
For never expecting anything less than my best.
For teaching us good morals from day one and the difference between what is right and wrong. And of course: what is right vs. what is easy.
For always asking why we got that one question wrong on a test in school. It might have driven me crazy over the years why a 98% wasn’t good enough, but it pushed me to always try that much harder.


For all the moments that count and matter, I never doubted that you were proud of us.
Thank you for being wonderful role models — as individuals, as a married couple, and as parents.


Ayaz and Faraz:
From the endless ridiculous quarrels to the countless memories: I am not sure how the time flew by so fast and the first of us three is [already] getting married soon. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago Faraz and I were building forts with chairs, cushions and blankets and using my toy cutlery set for picnics underneath the forts.

It seems like it was just yesterday Ayaz was shaking his head at something Faraz or I had said or done. Wait, scratch that, odds are that probably was just yesterday. [just kidding Ayaz… but we all know he is shaking his head reading this!]

You both have been my biggest bully but my biggest supporter all in one. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I couldn’t end this before addressing the young ones–

To my younger cousins:
I have loved being your built-in editor, proof-reader, and problem solver. I have loved that you have always trusted me enough to come to me for advice or ask me for my opinion. I have loved the fact that you knew your secrets were safe with me. I have loved [and will always love] being your older sister. For years growing up, I used to always say to myself that I wished I had a younger sibling. I didn’t realize until much later Allah SWT gave me many younger siblings in all of you crazies.

While Australia may be [literally] on the other end of the world, always know this: I am still never going to be more than just a phone call, text message, email, what’s app message, Facebook message, [etc.] away. You get the picture. Some things change, but others never have to.

Milestone Anniversaries

This past Saturday, we celebrated my aunt and uncle’s silver jubilee [about a month early]. Their anniversary falls in the middle of Ramadan this year, so their kids decided to throw them an early surprise party.

My aunt and uncle in Canada will, inshAllah, mark their 25th milestone next month.

My parents just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, mashAllah, this past March.

My aunt and uncle in Norway celebrated their 40th anniversary this past January.

And my great aunt and her husband, mashAllah, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past November.

I pray Allah SWT bestows this kind of happiness on all of us.

All of these aforementioned couples have such distinct and different personalities. But they balance each other out. Like any couple should do.

I am not sure how many of you have heard the saying that “they were born in a time when if something was broken they would fix it, not throw it away.” There is just something about the previous generation that just makes it work. They won’t budge. They compromise.

Not just tolerate each other, but thrive with one another.

It’s probably one of the most valuable lessons they can teach our generation, yet at the same time– it’s not something you can be taught. Rather, it’s something you emulate. You can tell someone that marriage is full of compromises a hundred times over, but unless they witnessed that themselves from their role models… it means nothing.

In this day and age, where divorce and separation is as common as a new wardrobe, it’s something to think about. It’s something I have always thought about a lot… and even more so now with the big day being less than seven months away for me, inshAllah.

Anniversaries, and other such joyous events deserve to be celebrated. Whether it’s one year, nineteen years, or 60 years together: it’s momentous. It’s something to be proud of. And most importantly, I think, it’s a good reminder of what you have faced together. Not to mention what you have overcome together. The good times and the bad not so good times.

I pray Allah SWT showers everyone with His infinite blessings. I pray our generation not only emulates from the good examples from the previous generation(s) but also LEARNS from the troubled ones. And are a good example for the future generation(s).

Handmade

A couple of weeks ago, I found Ami trying to find my baby pictures, and it was so nice to go through some of our old pictures from our childhood. It had been a while since I had gone through them. Many of my newborn photos, including the first photo taken of me mere moments after my birth, have me wearing this reddish/orange blanket with a green border.

This blanket? It’s something I have treasured for as long as I can remember. It’s held a permanent residence under my bed in a container of things I’ve saved over the years. It’s priceless and you can’t even tell it’s over 30 years old. My mat9ernal grandmother sewed it personally.

It’s, unfortunately, one of the only [tangible] connections I have with my grandmother considering both of my grandmothers passed away way before I was born. Sadly, my paternal grandmother passed away a mere six days before her first grandchild, my oldest brother, Ayaz was born.

My dad’s aunt also sewed a yellow sweater for my oldest brother. That sweater? My dolls wore it over the course of the years.

Lately, I have very often found myself reminiscing and reflecting and things of that sorts.

If there’s one thing anyone knows about me, it’s that I am a) VERY emotional/sensitive [anything and everything makes me cry: whether I’m happy, sad, upset, angry… it just doesn’t matter] and b) a sentimental person. I don’t tend to save many tangible things, but I do keep the important stuff. The ones of value.  I can probably find any card given to me over the years… they, too, are housed in this aforementioned container.

I’ve said it a million times, I know I am overly emotional, but: I’d rather be very empathetic over apathetic any day.

Hajj Friends

Saturday night, several of the local NJ families from our hajj group finally got together. I say finally because we have been trying to make it happen since we got back from hajj six months ago but life kept getting in the way. Alhumdulillah for a huge and close-knit family, but sometimes that makes it nearly impossible to meet with other social circles. Not to mention, my life has been nothing but chaos this first quarter of the year.

Over the course of the past six months, I can’t tell you how many people have told me how nice it is how we have stayed in contact with people in our hajj group– that they don’t even remember most of who were in theirs, etc.

I have stayed in contact with several people over the phone, texting and of course Facebook… but to see them after so long? Joyous. Alhumdulillah, we picked up right where we left off. Reflecting, reminiscing… and recounting the many funny stories of course.

The friendship/bond I have with a select few of them is indescribable. It’s like we have known each other our whole lives, except for the fact that they were mere strangers six months ago who have become like family since then. No formality, no fuss: just plainly and simply a fun time with down to earth people.

I don’t know if our paths would have ever crossed, even though so many of us are from New Jersey, had we not been in the same hajj group. What I do know is this: they were [and are] a huge part of the “hajj experience” for me. I am thankful for their friendship and I am thankful we shared the experience(s) of hajj together. I hope no matter what the distance between us may be, that our friendship surpasses that.

We met and became friends in one of the greatest ways possible. Not to mention in the greatest place possible. The stories, memories and experiences we share are like no other.

And for that, they will always hold a special place in my heart. May our friendship grow even stronger over the years.

InshAllah, I can’t wait  to have the group gather again soon [and hopefully it won’t take another six months this time around]… you know, before I leave for the other end of the world… 🙂

Verily with Hardship comes Ease

2014, in essence, thus far has proved to be the worst of times and the best of times.

It started off as [relatively] horrible as it possibly could, with the c-word scare and surgery soon thereafter [and the not so fun recovery]. It started off with the many “what if’s”, “how could this be” and “why” questions. Not to mention the most stressful months of my life.

I often had to remind myself that this, too, shall pass.

And in the midst of all this chaos… in the way both spectrums intertwined at the same time… there is truly no other way to explain it in my mind other than: He, above, once again proved: Verily with Hardship comes Ease – [94:5-6]

Most of my family and friends, by now, know that  I am engaged as of early March.

In the days after, someone jokingly said to me that I apparently don’t do anything the normal/typical way. But that is my life. So why would this be any different? For the first time since leaving Pakistan 19.5 years ago, I will travel back to Pakistan mid December. And not just to visit, mind you; to get married there. Why not, right?!

Never in a million years would I have imagined traveling back to Pakistan, let alone to go back for the first time after so many years to get married AND move to Australia immediately afterwards.

 

But alhumdulillah. He is the best of planners.

 

Last year at the this time, it was all about planning/preparing for hajj. This year? Wedding/Pakistan Trip.

Coping with Dementia [Alzheimer’s]

I am no expert by any means, but I have very quickly picked up on some dos and don’ts for when dealing with those with a form of dementia and their families from recent encounters from my experience with PapaThese are my thoughts and thoughts alone! Not one of medical professionals, not my family members, just mine. Mine and mine alone.

One. Don’t judge and say something ridiculous like: “I just talked to [your loved one] for a few minutes over the phone and it didn’t seem like there was anything wrong with him/her”. Thanks, I’m glad you came to that conclusion in the two minutes you spoke to him/her. How about being grateful, that alhumdulillah, there are still normal moments around.

Just think for a second [or ask a direct relative if just pondering over it won’t be enough] what it feels like for an immediate family when [the loved one] cannot recognize them, or know where they are at the very least.

We cherish those moments where everything seems right with the world, and those are the moments that get us through the difficult ones.

So far in our case, alhumdulillah, most “days” run smoothly for the most part. It’s the evenings and nights that pose the challenge in more ways than one.

Two. Yes, I understand what [your loved one] is saying doesn’t make sense sometimes. Deal with it, and let it go. Don’t remind him/her that s/he is wrong or correct them. Play along. Say nothing if you must, but please for the love of God don’t make [your loved one] think harder.

Three. Don’t judge the family for what they say to [your loved one] to ease their mind. Chances are, no scratch that– I’M ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE there is a reason behind it and they know better.

Four. If  you are having a conversation with [your loved one], keep it simple. Enough said.

They don’t need to know a whole life story that will probably confuse them later. And they certainly don’t need to be put through a [political/personal debate/argument]. Not necessary. Chances are some parts [or bits and pieces of many different conversations] will stick in their mind and come back later out of context. Not to mention that it’s not good for them to be over thinking either. 

Simple is good.

Again: these are my thoughts, and thoughts alone about my experience. And they definitely don’t apply broadly to every person with dementia/Alzheimers/Sundowning Syndrome.

Everyone copes differently. What works for me? Writing my thoughts and sharing experiences with my family who get it simply because they are experiencing it tooIt’s not something that is easy to explain. Chances are you have heard of someone with Alzheimer’s, but until you experience it first-handed… it’s unimaginable.

I don’t know if it makes sense or not, but my love/admiration for Papa has grown even more. I’m blessed immeasurably to have so many fond memories of/with him that I cling to on difficult days. I just came back on the 17th from Virginia after spending a week with him and unfortunately had several reminders to cherish the moment. That dementia/Alzheimer’s is ugly. I hate dementia with all my heart and soul, but love Papa with every ounce of me.

P.S. Twelve days until my parents and I leave for a trip of a lifetime, inshallah… for hajj! More on that later.

Papa and Me Time

Family is family and there is nothing like family. One of the hardest things I have had to do in a very long time [if not ever] was to say goodbye and head back home hours away this past Tuesday night after spending a wonderful week by Papa’s side.

 
There is no one better to take care of [your loved one] than a caring and loving family member. One who knows what they like and dislike, one who gets them, one who can comfort them and reason with them.
Of course, it’s not easy. And everyone’s circumstances are different and you have to do what you have to do. But a stranger can never replace the level of care a family member can provide: because most of all, [your loved one] just wants some good old company. Someone to sit by their side and talk. Or do absolutely nothing. They need to be shown how much they mean to us, that they are loved, taken care of, and an important part of our life!

I am blessed beyond words to have Papa in my life, and I loved every minute of the almost six days I had with him- the “Papa and me” time will always hold a special place in my heart. The last few days of my trip involved a lot of tears from my end, because I couldn’t imagine leaving him- what I wouldn’t do to be able to stay there longer by his side. My six days revolved completely around Papa, from the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, so you can imagine who weird it felt to be back home and only speak to him via the phone.

Dementia

“… among you is he who is returned to the most decrepit [old] age so that he knows, after [once having] knowledge, nothing.” [22.5].

Dementia. I don’t know whether it’s nice to hate something, but I do. I hate dementia. With every ounce of me.

It’s taken away my maternal grandfather mentally from us, and that is something that breaks my heart. The signs were there for so long, but I can’t begin to explain to you the rapid changes in just one month’s time. You just had to see it to believe it. I don’t think I would have believed it if I wasn’t experiencing it in front of my very own eyes about someone so near and dear to my heart. For someone with so much worldly knowledge and experience, to now suddenly succumb to something like this and so rapidly… I can’t put into words how much I detest it.

I don’t say this because our family can’t handle it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Each person in the immediate family has stepped up their game and done more than their share. And done it because they want to.

Even when in your heart you already know [and we knew], when it was finally confirmed by medical professionals: it was so hard to digest and believe. Or even fathom. How could this be?

This too is a test from Him above, and together we will conquer it. It hasn’t been easy, and I know it won’t. But for someone that I have looked up to from day one? I would do anything I possibly can for him.

In some ways, it truly is like having a newborn/toddler around. You learn to have patience, and sooth their mind. You can’t leave them alone at all, and your senses need to be at the top of their game 24 hours a day. Yes, even at night when sleeping. You do things for them, and help them with other stuff. They lose their independence and they become dependent on you. Worse, they feel like a burden. How in the world do you explain to, no scratch that… not just explain, BUT show them they are anything but? We would go to the moon and back without a second thought.

And just like when a child’s toy is broken and they bring it to you to fix, you wish you could fix this for him just as easily. But you can’t. It’s broken and we can’t do anything about it. We can, only, help him physically, but that will never seem to be enough.

Amongst the family we have been talking about how so often we remember in our prayers our physical abilities, but how often do we pray to retain our mental abilities? Each part of the human body, plays such an intricate role and together makes the human body whole. Even with one deficiency, it’s as if the whole person is effected.

I’ve thought a lot about dementia lately, and every time I see Papa react a certain way, I wonder if he feels it. If he feels confused or senses something isn’t right. We, obviously, know things aren’t right. That he is confused to say the least. But we can deal with it. But I hope to God that to Papa, inside, he doesn’t sense that.

I pray to Allah SWT to make it easy on Papa. To give his mind peace. To give us strength to take care of him in the hardest of days. And that we continue to do it whole-heartedly.

Locked Out

So you know what I did this weekend?

I locked the keys in the car. In the trunk. In a rental. In another state. Ugh.

Oh and I managed to do this the night of my cousin’s, Naairah, graduation party.

On the positive side, I guess it was a good thing that we were already at the hall, and we didn’t realize the mishap until near the end of the party.

It was an innocent mistake, but I felt terrible. Paraphrasing my brother’s words: Niagara falls of tears were shed [by me]. I’m a crier. A big one. Happy moments, sad moments, mad moments. I guess add stupid moments too.

My cousin, the graduate, needed to borrow blush. It was in my luggage in our rental, so I borrowed the keys from Faraz and we headed to car. Opened the trunk, took out bags covering my luggage, somehow managed to set the keys in the trunk in between, opened my luggage and dug out the blush. She used it, we put everything back in it’s place, shut the trunk with all my might [it was heavy!] and headed back in.

No keys. Little did I know though at this time.

It wasn’t until much later, near the end of the party, when Faraz asked my for the keys. My response? I don’t have the keys. His? Yes you do, you took them from me.

Panic mode as I check my belongings and head back to the car. My thinking [or hope]? The trunk wouldn’t have locked with the keys in it. I immediately knew it was in the trunk because I remembered not coming back in with it. Especially because I used both hands to shut the trunk door.

Nonetheless, we searched the hall, I retraced my steps, checked the bathroom, told the hotel workers [in case it showed up], etc. Finally, called Triple A who came to the rescue. A couple of hours later.

It doesn’t end there though. When they get there, they tell my brother and dad that they don’t think the keys are locked in the car because if that was the case the car wouldn’t have locked [BMW 2013 model]. Yeah, well, that’s what I thought too.

Oh, and the car alarm starts going off as soon as they unlocked the car through the back window. So my brother climbs in, and heads to the trunk, emptying our trunk… until finally: the key is found!

And so all of this. And all because of blush.

This will be a weekend to remember. Not just because my cousin graduated, or how great the keynote speakers were at her graduation (the best I’ve ever heard), or pretty much the whole family got together, or the crazy weather that first day… or anything like that: but because of the car. and blush.