Samira Al-Hadad of San Luis Obispo, California, succumbed to COVID-19 on the morning of January 23, 2021. Her storied life ended, and she joined her father (Spiridon), mother (Salima), and three sisters (Jeanette, Sarah, and Mary) at what is surely a lively table full of hugs and heavenly laughter. Samira spent her later years under the outstanding care of her physician Dr. Hilty and the dedicated staff at the Post Acute Transitional Care Center, with daily visits and ministrations by her children, large extended family, and dear friends. It was a team and community that ensured a rewarding existence. Her husband Sabah regaled Samira with fanciful stories on his daily visits, often ending with a cliff-hanger so she would anticipate the next chapter. Samira's own life was full of stories that could arguably eclipse any that Sabah could spin. She was born in Haifa, Palestine, in 1937. When Samira was a youngster, it became clear that her family's future- and that of Palestine- was unsafe and uncertain, so her family left permanently to their land in Lebanon. Her primary education was in a Lebanese Catholic boarding school with her younger sister Mary, after which she was sponsored to immigrate to the United States. Samira proudly earned her United States citizenship and worked as a nurse in Texas, where she met her husband Sabah. They moved to San Luis Obispo in 1963 when Sabah became a professor at Cal Poly SLO. She continued her work as a nurse well into motherhood. Samira was renown within the family for her open arms, open home, and open heart, always there to lend an ear, a cup of coffee, and a room. A regular fixture at the Saturday Farmers' Market, Samira arrived early to purchase flowers each week. She delighted in creating fresh sprays for her home and designing and delivering arrangements to family and friends. Samira was a font of floral knowledge. She knew how to grow houseplants from cuttings, avocado trees from seeds, and how to care for African Violets properly. She exemplified stopping to smell the roses, and everyone took pleasure, as she did, in the intoxicating scent of the varieties she grew, which certainly reminded her of her childhood in Lebanon. Samira was an amazing chef with a willingness to share and teach regional family recipes, and a woman with a productive green thumb who could nimbly climb trees at harvest time. She nurtured all manner of fruits and vegetables, and her huge garden thrived. She delighted in the "surprise" crops that grew, often results of what she composted. As she did with her heart and home, she shared the garden bounty with her family and neighbors. She is also remembered as having a soft spot for her darling puppies, each of whom had a distinct personality that Samira was willing to indulge as only a true dog-lover could. From "puppy-soccer" to "bury-the-sock," Samira, her family, and all visitors to their home couldn't help but smile when playing with Bosa, Jolie, Gigi, and Lady. Samira was a mother who reveled in her children's talents and aspirations and encouraged them to find within themselves strong footing, independent thought, and meaningful pursuits. She was known by her siblings as the fiercely protective sister, a role she took seriously and fulfilled masterfully. Her role was so cherished that it was sought after by her siblings' offspring, who contacted their wise Auntie for everything from mundane topics to serious advice about assimilating into American culture and the eligibility of marriage partners. Her wisdom was dispensed openly and with blunt honesty, usually beginning with a knowing tilt of the head and a, "You know, honey," - words that each of us wish we could hear one more time. Samira is survived by her husband of 61 years, Sabah; her devoted daughter Jenann (married to Bill McLennan); her beloved son Sig; and two sources of joy and pride- her granddaughters Catie and Maddie. She also leaves behind three adored brothers and their loving wives: John Atiya (Diane), Tony Atieh (Claire), and Melad Atiya (Zeina). They will be counted on by Samira's 21 nieces and nephews, their spouses, and their children to assume the protective and advice role vacated by Samira. In keeping with current health guidelines, Samira will have a private memorial service and will be buried at the Old Mission cemetery in San Luis Obispo, California.
Published by New Times San Luis Opisbo from Mar. 25 to Mar. 31, 2021.