One of my goals for my visit to my family this past summer was to just be around them. Not to see fancy sites or attend weddings, but to sit among them, be with them, and get some fresh perspective. To that end, I was blessed to spend the day with my grandmothers today. I was able to pray Fajr (pre-dawn prayer) on time for the first time in a while (ugh, jet lag!), which was a great start to the day. I know better than to miss Fajr, but praying on time depends little on setting an alarm and more on the state of your heart. I need to remember to make my intention to get up for Fajr on time every night before bed.
When I joined the morning gathering of my grandmothers, grandma Watfa immediately said I looked glowing and that nur was shining from my face. I am certain it was her perception as a believer more than anything.
Grandma Watfa is simply an amazing person. I want to just follow her around and learn her habits so I can be more like her. Some things I picked up from her these past few days:
- She doesn’t know exactly how old she is, but she’s over 95 and probably the oldest person of all the neighboring villages.
- She says she learned everything she knows by being around the elderly and more experienced women.
- Her husband, my grandfather, was born in Palestine in ~1908 according to his ID card that she saved since 1967. He made her and each of her daughters a knit kohl holder (pictured). She has saved it until today. She also still makes kohl by hand for her granddaughters.
- She doesn’t dabble in idle talk. Rather, she attends Islamic lessons with the shaykha and tries to share her education with others. Sometimes that means asking a younger attendee to take down notes for her, saving it on a little paper that she folds and stores away in her wallet for later.
- She taught me the story about Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad (S), when she was tired, her father advised to say subhanallah, alhamdullilah 33 times each, and allahu akhbar 34 times. That enables her to wake up energized.
In my grandmother’s stories about her past, I am astonished to learn how much of their lives revolved around seeking sustenance. She would grow fruits and vegetables to feed her children, or sell to be able to buy meat. Her life is not as harsh today, but she continues in the service of others. She visits the sick, selflessly abstains from eating her children’s favorite foods, carries candies for kids who pass her by on the street, prays for the dead and the living…including each one of her children, grandchildren, great, and great, great grandchildren, and more.
Ya Allah preserve and protect her, and teach us her example, and let my inspiration from her live on.
Dalal is a chemist and mother of two from NJ. Her passions lie in healthy cooking, connecting with like-minded moms, bargain-shopping, and obsessively keeping up with current events. She is blogging about her family’s travels, which includes this past entry.