Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memory of Dr. Jagdish C. Dhawan

Last Wednesday evening, May 25, 2011, I received a text message from Roopa, one of my best friends:

My Dad died today. Suddenly.

It's all just been a blur since then. At the funeral service family and friends were invited to speak words of remembrance and to celebrate the life of Dr. Jagdish Dhawan. I wanted to speak, but was in no state to control my emotions long enough to get what I wanted to say out. Had I been stronger, this is what I would have liked to say to celebrate the life of my Uncle:

I first met Uncle in 1998 or 1999 and the first things that struck me were his infectious smile and his ability to make other people laugh. He and Auntie treated me like their daughter from day one, and their son Rinku has always treated me like like his younger sister. And Roopa and I have had a typical sister-like relationship, we laugh, we disagree, we agree, we cry together and then laugh again. The Dhawans are family. There are so many memories that I would like to share, but a few always come to the forefront of my mind when I think of Uncle.

Back around 1999 or 2000, I was over at Roopa's apartment and Uncle and Auntie were visiting. Uncle was baking salmon in the oven. I never knew he was such a great chef. He taught me how to prepare the fish and surround the fillet with onions and tomatoes. And rather than twiddling our thumbs while we waited for the fish to bake for almost forty five minutes, he kept us entertained by asking us about school and making us laugh. Together we would check on the fish periodically and when we finally sat down at the dinner table, I can say that was the best salmon I had ever eaten. About a year or two ago, I told Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) that I wanted to make salmon "Uncle Style." S.D. was game, so we gave it a go. It came out ok. Waiting out the bake time was almost torture, and I realized it was because we were missing Uncle's entertainment, and when we at the fish it was yummy but not as delectable as that day back in 2000. I think the cooking was missing the main ingredient: Uncle's love.

This past December Roopa and Rishi were married in Miami. Uncle, was beaming the entire weekend, the happiest Father of the Bride EVER. Two days before the wedding, Uncle took Roopa and her friends out to eat at this amazing Greek restaurant. Roopa had just had bridal mendhi applied to her hands, arms, feet and legs, so she wasn't able to touch anything for fear of smearing the mendhi. We all watched Uncle lovingly feed his daughter with his own hands. Then once our stomachs were full we (including Uncle and Auntie) started dancing on top of the tables, in between the tables, and we were throwing napkins in the air, screaming Ooopa!!  I found this video clip this morning. I don't even remember filming it, but I think it shows how much of a fun loving person Uncle was and how much he loved his wife:

Uncle, you left us before we were ready to let you go. I would have loved to see your smiling face at my own wedding or watch you bounce your first grandchild on your knee. But, I guess God needed you more.

Here is a link to the obituary. Dr. Dhawan was an esteemed professor at the University of South Alabama and a scholarship has been set up in his memory.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Dr. Jagdish C. Dhawan Memorial Endowed Book Award. Contributions to this fund should be directed to the USA Development Office; TRP III, Ste. 2150; Mobile, AL 36688.


  1. I love this entry. My mom and I watch the video a few times a day - what a great moment to cherish.

  2. Its nice to be able to hear Uncle laughing and see him smilimg. I'm glad you and Auntie like the video.