Tara. A Star Among the Stars

Hello everyone, I hope you are having a great weekend and a very happy Sunday to you all. We are having a beautiful weekend here in the Bay Area; very fall-like, pleasantly warm in the 70s in the daytime and in the chilly 50s at night. I’ve been appreciating our lovely weather in a more quiet pensive and contemplative mood this weekend, I couldn’t help it. I had just heard a few days earlier that my cousin Tara had passed away unexpectedly.  She was 37 years young.  As you can imagine, it came as a shock to all of us. Tara was the youngest of all our cousins, and I think everyone’s favorite.  What happened you are probably wondering? To be so young and leave so soon?  She was gardening in her backyard when it seems she fainted. When she came to she was able to dial 911 and call her mom-in-law.  Her husband is a fireman at CalFire and was on a training session 2 hours away.  By the time her husband, brother and father arrived at the hospital she had passed away.  She died of pulmonary embolism.  As I type this blog it seems unreal that Tara is gone.

Tara is the daughter of my Aunty Shashi who is my Mom’s youngest sister. Aunty Shashi lives in S. Carolina with her husband Roy Lee. My Mom and Aunty Shashi had a very special bond, so special that Shashi visited my Mom often in Texas and even after Mom moved to Louisiana Shashi continued to visit Mom sometimes with her little daughter Tara. Tara touched all our lives in wonderful ways, she had that effect on us that even after she moved away to live with her Dad in LA, everyone wanted to know how she was doing over the years as she grew from a little girl into a young woman.

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Tara with my sister in Houston
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Tara and her brother Mohan

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“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” 
― William James

What I remember most about Tara with great affection and admiration is this story that I would like to share. Tara came to visit me almost 20 years ago when my Mom passed away. Mom and Dad were on their way from Louisiana to spend the Christmas holidays with me in California and sadly Mom had a massive stroke on the flight over and was hospitalized the moment she landed. She passed away a week later.  Our relatives from all corners of America and our friends came to attend my Mom’s service including my Aunty Shashi.  Tara flew in from LA to attend the service as well.  Even as a young teenager barely eighteen years old Tara back then controlled the room. I remember on the day of Mom’s memorial service when all the adults wanted to attend we wanted to leave our kids at home as they were only 3 and 4 years old.  While we were debating which adult should stay back (even though everyone wanted to go and pay their respects) Tara took control of the situation and told us not to worry, that she would stay home and watch all the little kids. She spoke with such confidence that we agreed and left our children in her capable hands. To this day our family fondly talks of Tara as that young teenager who stepped up to help when we needed it the most.

Sometimes we think “What charity have I given to? What volunteer work have I done? What grand gesture can I make to be remembered by?”  To this my answer is ask yourself  “What have I done to make a difference?”  It’s the little gestures we make at that right moment when others need it – that is what matters, that is our contribution, to give our hand in love and comfort when others need it the most. Tara epitomizes this for me.

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Tara and her brother Mohan

Tara in Sanskrit means Star. Tara was a star when she walked among us and now she is a star among the stars. 

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“In Sanskrit, the name Tara means Star, but she was also called She Who Brings Forth Life, The Great Compassionate Mother, and The Embodiment of Wisdom, and the Great Protectress. Goddess Tara is probably the oldest goddess who is still worshipped extensively in modern times. Tara originated as a Hindu goddess, a Great Goddess — the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life. 

There are many embodiments of Tara, but the best known are the White Tara and the Green Tara.  The peaceful, compassionate White Tara gently protects and brings long life and peace. The more dynamic goddess, Green Tara is the “Mother Earth”, and a fierce goddess who overcomes obstacles, and saves us from physical and spiritual danger.

In the legends of Tibet where the worship of the Goddess Tara is still practiced  in the Buddhist tradition, it is told that the goddess Tara first appeared rising from a lotus blossom in the lake that had formed from Buddha’s tears of compassion, tears that fell when he first beheld the scope of suffering in the world. Because of her essential goodness, she was granted the right to assume her human form as a man.  But Tara elected instead to remain in her womanly form. The Goddess Tara Woved..

“Therefore may I, in a female body, 
work for the welfare of all beings, 
until such time as all humanity has found its fullness.”
from Goddessgift.com

I spoke to Tara a few months ago and we talked for one hour, despite having lost touch for a few years. She was so happy with her life. She talked about being happily married with two kids – a boy and a girl. She talked about her job, about how she loved it but it was a tough job, how she had saved money for years to buy her new home. She said she got in on a fire-sale, she told me it was a big home and now it needed furnishing and she didn’t think about that part of it. How she wanted a beautiful garden, she asked me for advice. She talked of visiting me with her kids. She was full of optimism. How does someone with such positive energy and with so much to look forward to pass away so suddenly? If there is one thing about her passing that brought a small ray of a smile to me is that her brother said she was gardening right before she was whisked to the hospital. When I heard that, all I could think is “Tara must have been planting a vegetable seedling, looking at a hummingbird or admiring a bloom. She must have been at peace.  She was with Mother Nature when Mother Nature called for Tara to join her.”

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Peach colored rose Heaven on Earth

I am so saddened to hear of Tara’s passing that somehow words don’t seem to be enough to express my feelings. Tara leaves behind a loving husband Ray, two children – a girl 6 years old and a boy 5 years old, her Mom, Dad and older brother. Our love and prayers go out to her dear family.

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Tara with her husband Ray and kids

Tara’s Memorial Service was on Friday, September 21st at 11am.  Here are a few pictures from the service.

My cousin Nando and I flew from San Jose to Fontana, California on the morning of Tara’s memorial service.  We picked up Nando’s brother Pradeep who flew in from Austin the night before and was staying at the WigWam Motel on Historic Route 66. This was the craziest motel we had ever seen! A smiling and happy way to start off our morning just as our cousin Tara would have wanted it.

A beautiful service for our beautiful cousin Tara.

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At Tara’s Memorial Service

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A very emotional and tearful moment.

A celebratory toast to Tara who loved a good glass of wine and always made a toast with “I love you.

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From left with Ray, Tara’s husband, Nando, Mohan, Shashi Aunty and Me

Tara’s curry plant given by her Mom Shashi Aunty from a seedling aunt salavaged from my Mom’s curry plant after Mom passed away over 19 years ago!

Tara. She was a special soul.

 

55 thoughts on “Tara. A Star Among the Stars”

  1. Dolly , The Karuveppalai plant flourishes and survives only in the Garden of a pure and noble hearted Soul as per my Temple Priest . Kasi Swamigal . I cannot believe that in One Year , the Karuveppalai plant that Shashi gifted to her daughter , Tara , has grown to such magnetic proportions and looks so healthy . A lovely image of Greenery and fertility .

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  2. Dear Dolly and Nando,
    I am writing this note to you both because I could not be there for Tara’s services.  Please pass on my heartfelt condolences to Raymond, the children, Shashi Athai and Murthy Athimber.  I am writing with a request on behalf of the kids.  I lost my dad when I was 11, even today unfortunately my most clear memories of my dad are of the day he died.  Sad but true.  Whenever I hear a story about him from Uma Athai or Jagannathan Athimber I crave it and file away every last detail about it in my memory.  My ask of you both is to request our relatives to share/write about their experiences with Tara – anything they can, however trivial, will fill the picture for the kids about their mom Tara.  I deeply want this for them.  I only met Tara once, at Pradeep’s wedding, so I don’t have much to share, but others can.  This request is the most meaningful way I can think of to help in some way.
    Thinking of Tara,
    Mahesh

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    1. So beautiful Mahesh! I showed your note to Shashi she was right with me and read your heartfelt note. She asked me for your contact info and I have shared it with her. I won’t lie Mahesh the service was very emotional I haven’t cried this much even when my Mom passed away. Your note means a lot to Ray, kids and Shashi.

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      1. Dolly, Thank you for sharing this with Shashi Athai.  I can only imagine what the service was like, with so much love for Tara and remembrances.  Love to you all our family there.

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    2. Beautiful note Mahesh! It is just surreal. Feel very lucky to have met Tara and her beautiful family last Nov and had an opportunity to hang out for a day. Very loving and friendly person

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    3. Mahesh, i love the way you refer to Ramu as Murthy Athimber. I am glad Ramu found his Place in this conversation as Tara’s appa . Mahesh , your dad’s strongest quality was he was never swayed by anyone’s opinion but rather interacted with people on his own terms , based on his own experiences . . Das Anna was non judgemental and respected his siblings and their spouses. I recall how he used to Visit us in Gulmohar Park , Delhi and he and my hubby used to enjoy each other’s company .

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  3. Hi Kalpana, so sorry to hear about your cousin. Thank you for sharing her beautiful spirit with us. Very honoring and filled with love. I’m sure the memorial service was beautiful. Our condolences. 🤗❤️🙏

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    1. Thank you Stella for your condolences. The service was very emotional it was very hard not to cry the whole rooms was flilled with tears. Tara was loved by many it showed at the service despite being so young she made a huge impact on everyone around her. God bless her family and may she be in peace in heaven.

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  4. I am so glad you wrote this- I am sure it touched everyone’s heart as it did mine bringing recollections of Tara’s beauty and the sweetness of her presence. Filled with sadness at the loss to her immediate family and with prayers for everlasting peace for her soul

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  5. Just when i was thinking about our most kindhearted Shantoo on his First Death Anniversary , this devastating news about our beloved Tara came . When i shared about Shantoo’s targic death with Tara , she was grief stricken . Tara appreciated the fact that Shantoo visited her on his business trip to California and spent sometime with her and family . Tara even postef a photo of Shantoo and Her from that trip . Two great souls so kind and generous . Indeed, how many of us make the Time for others even if we live in close proximity to one another .

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    1. Yes, even I had the same thoight – that at this time last year I was going to Houston to attend Shawn’s funeral, and now I am heading to LA for Tara’s memorial service. Life is a journey with its sadness and happy moments, this is by far one of the saddest for me.

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  6. Tara was a diligent Hardworking professional. Once , when Dhruv and i took her out to DC for an Outing when she had come for my daughter’s Wedding, we were sitting at an outdoor Cafe and having Coffee and Snacks. Just then a UPS driver pulled up and parked his Van in front of us and stepped out and went inside the Cafe. The driver had kept the Door open and left the Vehicle. Tara immediately jumped up and said ” This is a NO NO ; First , offence , the driver should not leave a vehicle unattended with packages inside and second offence with the Door Open . If i was on duty , i would have written the driver up for violation of company policy . ” So smart and conscientious at an incredibly young age , our beautiful and super intelligent Tara.

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  7. Dolly, excellently worded narrative of our sweet Tara’s sudden demise at a young age very befitting her memoable life! Your writeup was so moving that it brought me to tears! Tara’s love and warmth displyed at a young age when she visited us at San Jose in 1999 at the time of Raji’s death is fresh in our memory.
    “Atma (Soul) never perishes when the body falls!”
    We are happy about your plan to attnd the memorial service and to represent others, unable to, irrespective of any advice unsolicited or otherwise, thanks for the same, Dolly,we commend you for it.
    Our prayers for the Soul (Atma) to rest in peace! Our condolences to the family and friends and wishes for strength to bear the loss.

    OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTIH.

    OM TAT SAT

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  8. Dolly, really I tell you reading this brought tears, it was so well written and beautifully expressed, each time I read it I cried. God works in mysterious ways. Tara is in heaven now. Love and prayers to Shashi and Mohan and Tara’s husband and family.

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  9. Hi Kalpana. I just saw your blog and wanted to send our condolences. How terrible and at such a young age. Please know you and the family are in our prayers and thoughts. If there is anything we can do please don’t hesitate to ask. Thinking of you all. xoxo

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    1. Hi karen, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers, its been a rough few days up and down with tears and sadness. Yesterday I binged on pizza with a devil may care attitude, today I worked out for more than an hour because I do care. I did some gardening today to enjoy our gorgeous weather and bought flowers from the nursery to plant in memory of my cousin Tara. Thank you again for your kind words.

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      1. Take good care of yourself, hug your family a little tighter today and find peace in knowing she lived a good life and is now being taken care of in the heavens above. I feel horrible for those two little kids she left behind… how rough for them but hopefully in time they will adjust to this terrible tragedy and the sun will shine bright for them again. God bless.

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  10. Kalpana, what a wondderful tribute you have penned for Tara … I recall how Tara and Mohan attended my daughters Weddings and were the Life and soul of the Reception Party – dancing away. Tara did everything right from the word Go – graduated at the right age ; married a man she loved; held a job for 15 years and rose up to a Top level postion from the Ranks in a record time . Tara also balanced her Career and the job of mother/housewife admirably besides being a Great Support for her dad. Tara would normally call me on my Birthday but this time when she did not call , dhruv and i called her and she was too tired and was catching up on Sleep . That was the last we spoke to Tara on Aug 14th. Then , this devastating news on Sep 10th .

    There is many a Tara- Green Tara , White Tara, Red Tara and Blue Tara in Buddhism . But for me , Tara will always be a Nayana Tara ( A star of my Eyes) … My heart goes out to the two young kids Shashi and Rey and her hubby., Raymond .. Yes,Tara has taken a part of me with her …

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    1. My profile features Tara at 16 with me when she visited Deepika in Las Vegas with her dad and Mohan . Tara was a stunning beauty and when she walked in the Casino with me , many heads turned just to look at her majestic toweing figure . Tara’s internal beauty was matchless.

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  11. So sorry to hear this news. Even though I have not met Tara, I have seen Shashi aunty. Cannot even imagine what she and the family must be going through. Think about the kids – too young to have lost their mother. Shocking indeed. Beautiful description about the meaning of Tara. Sincere condolences to the family. RIP Tara!

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  12. Very nicely written. This news was very shocking to all of us. I feel for Ray and the children; can’t imagine what they are going through. May god give them the courage to get through this. Someday Tara’s children will read this note and it will bring back nice memories of the star in their lives.

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  13. Beautifully written memoir.. Just this past thanksgiving I got to meet her for the first time and spend the day with her family at Mohan’s place. Sadly that was the last time. RIP Tara!

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