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Shanti Devi Pandey
In the echo of laughter, liveliness, lyrical linguistics, limitless learning, leadership and love, we lament the loss of our mother, sister, aunt, friend, matchmaker, grandmother, and great-grandmother Shanti Devi Pandey (mother of Dr. Madhuri Singh). In the early hours of December 7th, 2012 Grandma Shanti took her last breath and peaceful, willing and ready departed this realm and entered the next. With her husband Ramdutt, son Ajay, son-in-law Dr. Gaya Singh, parents, siblings and friends waiting, Shanti entered the afterlife as popular and as welcomed as she was on Earth. In her smile, her speech, her simplicity, her stubbornness, her reason, her warmth, her dedication, her wisdom, her example, her passion, her silence and in her eyes, there was an omniscience that only develops in the presence of time, and the root of which can only be found within her story. From humble beginnings, Shanti was born September 10th, 1921 in Amhara, Bihar, India where among 13 brothers and sisters her caring, giving, and self sacrificing attributes developed. Now one could say she married her sweetheart, Ramdutt (which she did), and raised 4 beautiful children (which she also did), but it does not suffice for how much more she meant to not just her children and grandchildren, but to all of those she touched and to the community of Saskatoon. First and foremost, she was a mother- not once, not twice but 3 times over, in her motherland and in her new motherland, Canada. In the fall of 1977, Shanti stepped foot onto Canadian soil as an immigrant, coming to care for her grandchildren while their mother returned to England to fulfill her residency requirements. In a land so different than what she had known, she adapted to the culture, the language, and even the weather, and grew to love this nation. After the death of her husband in 1991, Shanti returned to Canada her home and came into a role she knew only too well; motherhood. Her Canadian great-grandchildren became the apple of her eye, and a great source of pride. Equally so, to them Grandma Shanti was a majestic woman. The old lady in her sari, who could get her fingers so close to the stove and never burn them, the same lady who could curry anything, and yet make a pizza and spaghetti. We remember her grey hair, always tucked neatly into a bun, only coming out at night; the young ones would giggle, "Grandma's hair is so long!" Then there was her smile reaching ear to ear, with the apples of her cheeks searching for the sky. Her positivity radiated from within, and infused any soul in the room. When she received compliments, she would brush them off with a singular statement: "I'm just an old woman from India"- though she couldn't have fooled you to believe it, her command of the English language could rival a graduate of the subject, and as a wordsmith in birthday cards a many, Hallmark would be lucky to have her. She spoke an eloquent English, she followed current events, and she knew more about Canada than anyone I know. From no running water and electricity in India, to Montgomery Place Saskatoon, a fridge full of food, and biracial grandchildren; she was a living example of perseverance and sacrifice. My grandmother was not "just an immigrant", she was a Canadian citizen; she was the neighborhood babysitter to Indian, Ukrainian, English, German children- she brought an element of her homeland, and in them, paid it forward. She raised 4 children to value honesty and a true belief in what they do- she ended up with an Air Marshall of the Indian Air Force, a Brigadier General and UN Diplomat, a radiologist and Saskatoon's very own Dr. Madhuri Singh, all of them living their lives in service, just as their mother taught them. To fondly remember her, she leaves her sons Bijoy and children, Priya, Bhavna; Uday and his daughters, Soni and Suji; Abhay and his sons Ashish and Ananth; her only daughter Dr. Madhuri Singh and children Ranjana (Bob), Rajiva (Gwen), and Sanjeev (Theresa). Among many nieces and nephews, she also leaves her great-grandchildren, Dominique, Lauren, Christian, Naresh, Kiran, Madeline, Anjali and Nisha. Grandma Shanti was everyone's Grandma and as such she lived a full and purposeful life. Crossing cultural barriers, making samosas and smelling of Oscar de la Renta, she truly was one of a kind. We say goodbye to our Grandma Shanti, who finally fulfills her namesake and rests in peace. A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday December 15, 2012 at 10:00 am at Saskatoon Funeral Home (338 4 Avenue North). In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. Arrangements in care of Saskatoon Funeral Home (244-5577).

Published in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix on Dec. 12, 2012
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