I had a very eventful few days. Over this past Labor Day weekend I was in Houston, Texas. I know you are probably wondering why would I go there with all the flooding and damage and relief efforts going on from the devastation that Hurricane Harvey has caused. I wasn’t there on a fun excursion believe me, my dear cousin Shawn passed away, literally a couple days after the storm hit Houston.
I flew to Dallas where my brother lives as the Houston airport hadn’t opened yet for incoming flights. I flew out Friday night, and my brother and I drove Saturday morning from Dallas to Houston, a 3- hour drive to attend Shawn’s memorial service Saturday afternoon. The waters had receded on the roads we took to Houston and in the areas around where the service was held in Sugarland, Texas. However driving around the city we could see everywhere the debris left behind by Hurricane Harvey.
My cousin Shawn was 56 years young, a warm and kind-hearted man. I grew up with Shawn and his three brothers Nando, Prem and Pradeep in Houston, Texas. Our two homes were just a few miles from each other, we spent practically every weekend at each other’s homes. That’s the beauty of having family close by, it’s easy to build life-long bonds. We all grew up together during our formative teenage years that leave life-long impressions in all of us. My cousins and I and my sisters and brother spent the better part of over 10 years in Houston with our cousins right by us. We played together, gave each other rides to school and work, celebrated many Indian and American festivals together, and occassionally even went on road trips together. We built a bond with each other that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
When I got married and moved away from Texas, Shawn and I still saw each other over the years for special occasions such as birthdays and weddings, and sometimes when Shawn was in California on business trips he would stop by and say hello.
Speaking to Shawn’s brothers I found out that Shawn had been really sick for a few months now – suffering very badly as they explained. Shawn had severe diabetes and had been on dialysis for a few years but the disease was taking a toll on his body. He eventually passed away after several months of health related complications.
Shawn’s family including his wife and kids were by his side every step of the way, and his brothers Nando and Pradeep flew down to Houston many times to see Shawn throughout the past few months. During those tough last months, Shawn’s other brother Prem, who lives in Houston, saw Shawn multiple times a week, to give Shawn company, conversation and to offer what else – guess what? Homemade Food! Shawn was a foodie, he loved flavorful vegetarian food. Shawn was a life long vegetarian. Shawn told me once he tried to eat meat but it just wouldn’t go past his throat – he had a natural aversion to it. My aunty Thanga, Shawn’s Mom loved to cook and she made amazing vegetarian food. I can see how growing up with her food can spoil you for the rest of your life.
Shawn it seems was craving his Mom’s food during the last few months – the South Indian Tamil vegetarian dishes his Mom used to make when he was growing up. Talking to Prem when I called to convey my condolences he shared with me how Shawn would ask him to bring some of the Tamil dishes he grew up with, and Prem’s wife Supriya would cook them while Prem delivered them to Shawn as they sat and chatted together. I heard from Prem that Shawn’s favorite requests were for eggplant curry and drumstick sambhar (Tamil lentil and vegetable soup) 😋.
This past June when Prem’s wife left for India for a brief holiday Shawn asked Prem to bring rasam, a South Indian tomato and lentil soup. Prem said he got in a panic as his wife was not in town. He decided to look up a recipe for rasam and made it for Shawn. Shawn created that kind of loyalty in people. Prem told me very proudly that after tasting Prem’s rasam Shawn told him it tasted outstanding! Prem also told me jokingly, “You know Dolly, the downside to learning how to make rasam is that I’m the one who is stuck making it at home now, because Supriya knows I can cook it as good as she can.”
Shawn was always full of impish conversation, kind and generous to everyone, he never said a harsh word about a single person, never held a grudge, and was always in a jovial spirit. I would tell my husband that Shawn had a mischievous smile at all times that looked like he was always up to something, you never knew if he was joking or if he was really telling it as it is. He was a good soul.
Shawn loved his family immensely. Shawn’s family including his wife of 31 years Selvi, daughter Sarah 27, and two sons Stephen 26 and Scott 15 will all miss a kind and good-hearted husband and Father.
His brothers Nando, Prem, and Pradeep, with whom he was very close, lost a big brother that will surely leave a hole in their hearts, but with the love and support of their families I am confident they will find the spirit to celebrate the memories they built with their older brother Shawn.
There are so many fond memories I have of Shawn when we were growing up together that I would love to share them all with you, but I think I have already painted a vivid picture of the loving, kind, and generous person he was.
Shawn’s Memorial Service was as beautiful as the man himself. Filled with compassionate stories from his family and an outpouring of support from his friends, the community and his co-workers. It was obvious Shawn was a very special human being.
Our love and prayers go out to Shawn’s family, may they find the strength to continue on their life’s journey and fulfill all their dreams. Shawn is in a beautiful place at peace resting next to his Mom and Dad. We will miss you Shawn.
Before I headed back to California my brother and I grabbed lunch back in Dallas and made a toast to this amazing kind-hearted man we called our cousin – Shawn!
Rest in Peace Shawn. We Will Miss You!
39 thoughts on “Shawn. The Most Kind-Hearted Man We Called Our Cousin”
So sorry to hear about your loss. May his soul Rest In Peace and God gives you and your family strength to bear it.
Thank you Swati.
Dolly, very moving tribute. Thank you!
Prem, you are all special to me! Shawn was especially a good man. We will miss him!
Thank you Dolly for the beautiful tribute and pictures. Your writing really evokes the great person he was and the void he has left.
Thank you Supriya. You did a lot during Shawns last few months and I am sure both Shawn and Prem appreciate it.
Very sorry to hear the news. Very touch post.
Our condolences. May God give you all strength to bear the loss.
Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.
This is a wonderful, heartfelt tribute to Shawn and the whole family. You must miss him terribly but it is a blessing you can all share so many fond memories.
Thank you for your kind comment. I wanted to share what a gentle and kind person Shawn was, whether people knew him or not I hoped to paint a generous and good person that people could relate to.
So touching, Dolly. Lovely memories.
That is a very beautiful piece about Shawn. We really appreciate you coming in and supporting us during this difficult time. The burden of grief is lightened when there are people who help you carry it. My burden is great so I am grateful for all the gestures that lighten it. Thank you.
Thank you Pradeep. I am so glad I made it to Shawn’s memorial service. I wanted to be there for all of you and for Selvi, you are all part of my formative years growing up in Houston – you know, the teenage years and through college – the times that usually leave long-term impressions on our lives. You will always have a special place in my heart. I wouldn’t have missed celebrating Shawn’s life with all of you – hurricane Harvey or not. Love you all so much. dolly
Shawn was a great guy and gone way way too soon. Over the years, despite his illness, he was always full of humor – the best kind i.e. tongue in cheek. It was inevitable that you would end up smiling a lot when you spent time with him. And that is a rare gift. That and his relentlessly stubborn kind spirit. My memory of Shawn is frozen with this image and I am sure somewhere, he is continuing to make wise cracks about his family and friends.
Beautifully written Hitesh. Your words brought tears. This is exactly how I remember Shawn – just as you said – full of tongue and cheek humor and full of wise cracks, and always kind. Will truly miss him.
My condolences. I’m glad you were able to be psychically present at Shawn’s memorial to honor him and celebrate his life with the rest of the family.
Thank you Stella. I am so glad I went despite hurricane Harvey’s devestation in Houston. It meant a lot to Shawn’s wife and Shawn’s brothers that I attended the memorial service. My going was more for them and to share some fond stories of Shawn together. We will all really miss him.
That’s right – Attending a memorial is more to show our solidarity and suport for the Living persons left behind…. and Selvi sure appreciated it
A heart felt Tribute to my Wonderful Nephew from Dolly , my equally wonderful and loving Niece . It was indeed brave of You to weather the storm and be present for Shantoo’s Memorial Ceremony . This reflects your Support for Selvi and family at this difficult Time .
Shantoo suffered endlessly during his last days and i spoke to him a day before he passed away and he told me he is too tired even to speak. Shantoo was so conscientious that he even worked from the Hospital Bed … when i asked him Shantoo why are you straining yourself he responded “my workers have to be paid.”
More importantly, when he visited India in the recent past, he visited all his near and dear ones including Viji and Chary Uncle too. Because of Dialysis, Shantoo was not able to travel that much but that still did not prevent him for being loving and kind to people in his circle via FaceBook .
I am really proud of both Selvi and Shantoo for fostering Good Family Values in their Stephen , Sarah and Scott …. Can you believe Stephen danced with me at Kiran’s wedding out of Kindness because i had nobody to dance with? Sarah is bright and at this young age is already doing well in her Career Path and is willing to run Shantoo’s Company . Scot – my Pokeman Expert and a TV star …. so handsome just like his dad with those chubby cheeks and endearing smile …
Join me in wishing Scott a Happy Birthday ( sep 7th) Sep 21st is Shantu’s and Selvi’s 32nd wedding Anniversary … my heart aches . for Selvi …. so young ….
pl correct typo – staring should read ” straining” in the above post
btw , i love all the photos you have posted but the One of Deepika , Dhruva , Shantoo , You and Kiran and your mom is my favorite … My kids were very lucky to havre Raji and Athimber by their side when my hubby passed away … it is their Good Karma and Dharma that is sustaining their children . Ty Athimber
Thank you for saying a few works about Shawn Vinatha Mami. He really was a special person and will be missed by all.
OMG – DOLLY – WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO WRITE SO ELOQUENTLY AND THAT TOO FROM THE HEART … U R AMAZING … I NEVER KNEW U HAD THIS HIDDEN TALENT IN YOU … GIRL , WRITE A BOOK … I WILL SUPPORT U …
DEEPI ALSO WRITES V WELL DHARINI AND DEEPIKA TOO. DHRUV IS VERY ELOQUENT BUT HE DOES NOT WRITE.
Shantu and in fact all 4 brothers are v dear to me. Very well brought up by their parents with respect for elders. The 4 boys came to the wedding in spite of the fact that they had just then lost their dad. Shantu loved the south indian meal i cooked for him in dharini’s home when he visited me, and he loved it and he said to me i will come and taste your eggplant stuffed curry .. that never happened.
This is what I wrote in my timeline.
Shantha Kumar . Shanthoo , as i affectionately addressed him , was in his mid fifties and he leaves behind a beautiful Wife, Selvi and three Children . I prayed to Lord Buddha to Bless the family with Peace at this difficult Time . May Lord Buddha grant Selvi Strength and Courage to deal with this tragic loss of a Life Partner . Healing prayers to the entire family . Also my heartfelt condolences to my Nephews Prem, , Nando and Dr. Pradeep….. My brother-in -law Shri Ramamirtham was a pious man and in his infinite wisdom he named his Four Sons Shantha Kumar ( Harbinger of Peace) , Prem Kumar ( an Epitome of Love) , Nanda Kumar ( Full of Joy) and Pradeep Kumar ( Full of Light )… True to their names , all the Sons are a delightful bunch and i affectionately called them the Houston Brothers … my love to all the wonderful brothers who have been a source of great strength to Selvi and her family at this difficult time.
Wow, I didn’t know there was so much thought in the names tha were given to the four brothers. I can see how the meaning of their names is actually reflected in their personalities. Thank you for your prayers and condolences to Shawn’s family and his brothers.
Hi Kalpana. Just wanted to send my condolences to you and the family. So sorry to hear of the loss of your cousin at such young age.
He seemed like a wonderful man. I loved seeing old photo’s of the family.
Thank you Shalini for all your well wishes.
Are you doing ok?
Yes, doing fine. Just sad. I grew up with Shawn and Nando and his brothers, so it hurt.
My thoughts are with you. Shalini
How are you, Hitesh and your daughters. Very sorry to understand from Surreyfarms that your cousin passed away. My heart felt sympathies to you and the bereaved family.
We are both doing quite well and now the rains look like they would stop. We had good rains this year.
Convey my regards to Hitesh and luv to the children.
With kind regards and luv
So sorry for your loss, Kalpana.
I am so sorry for your loss Kalpana. And glad that you could be there to see his family.
Beautifully written tribute Kalpana Sheth. We will miss Shawn. Rip Shawn!
Very nice presentation of feelings of the loss of a kind member of our family circle. OM SHANTI SHANTl SHANTl !
I’m proud of the narration, keep up, we are all ONE!
Precious moments…and splendid pics…nice to know about Shawn…and u have wonderfully penned. My deep condolences to you and your family❣❣
Thank you for your kind words. It meant the world to me that you enjoyed reading this little tribute to my cousin Shawn. Truly appreciate it!!
Memories are so precious – so beautifully written. My condolences to you and your family.
Thank you so much for your well wishes. It means so much to know that you enjoyed my write up about my dear cousin Shawn. If we had more people like him in this world, we would all be at peace with each other. Truly appreciate your comments!!