Ghodsi Joon sitting in the middle surrounded by
her four children. From left to right: Shirin, Simin, Pari Joon (Ghodsi Joon's sister),
Ghodsi Joon, Ali, and Shahin.
I will be telling your story for years to come
By Nahal Rose Lalefar
May 10, 2002
Simin moved to the United States in 1979 with her husband, six-year-old son and
unborn daughter. She believed that her stay in this country would only be temporary,
just until the chaos following Iran's Islamic revolution calmed down. Who knew things
would never again be the same?
Slowly, as the months and years flickered by and her children grew up, she came
to realize that the possibility of returning back to Iran was dimming. At first,
she was resistant to calling the U.S. her home.
Her entire life was back in Iran. Her culture, her house, her valued possessions,
and most importantly, her beloved mother, were all in Iran. But as she started to
see her children start school and make friends, joining sports teams and clubs, playing
music and volunteering, she came to believe that their aspirations and goals came
She gave up on the idea of moving back to Iran. With each passing day, she got a
little closer to being settled in the U.S. and a little farther away from Iran. The
idea of even visiting Iran took over ten years to be fulfilled. After all, when you
come to a country, not knowing the language, with very few belongings, and having
to start from scratch, it takes a long time to be able to go back to the place from
which you came.
For years, she was homesick for the streets of Tehran and Isfahan and the sweet
smells of naan in the morning and gormé sabzi in the evening.
Most of all, she missed and longed for her mother, Ghodsi Joon, who had for years,
for the sake of her children, sacrificed her own happiness at the hands of difficult
Now, years after Simin's fateful plane trip to the U.S., followed by her siblings,
her mother was alone in Iran. Worse yet, Ghodsi Joon had fallen ill with Parkinson's
disease. Troubled by her mother's situation, Simin spent the next four years traveling
back and forth between the U.S., Iran, Turkey and Dubai, trying to get a visa for
Ghodsi Joon so that she could come to the U.S. to be with her family.
The ordeal was long and painful. Imagine spending the entire morning and afternoon
standing in line in front of the U.S. Consulate in Ankara, Turkey, with your soft
spoken, 74-year-old mother, who has Parkinson's, only to have them cruelly deny her
a visa, forcing her to wait six months before she could even apply again.
Simin did everything to bring Ghodsi Joon to the
U.S., including becoming a citizen of the country she was reluctant to come to in
the first place. But it finally happened. The U.S. Consulate in Dubai gave Ghodsi
Joon a visa in 1996.
Four years later, Simin's sacrifice of returning to her true homeland had paid
off. She was finally content. Her mother was now living with her, her son had just
bought his own home, and her daughter was about to graduate from college. Yet, her
happiness was bittersweet, for although, she could not be more grateful for having
Ghodsi Joon live with her, Parkinson's disease was taking over.
Doctors, nurses, social workers, and even relatives, all told her that it would be
best to put Ghodsi Joon in a nursing home. But Simin adamantly stood by her mother
and said, She is my mother and I will be honored to take care of her myself. After
all, Ghodsi Joon had done so much for her as she was growing up. Now, it was her
turn to take care of her mother.
For the next several months, Simin and her sister, Shirin, did everything they
could for their mother. Ghodsi Joon was never once left alone. She was hugged and
kissed and loved nearly every second of every day.
In December of 2000, on a sunny afternoon of the first
Friday of Ramadan, surrounded by both her daughters, Ghodsi Joon passed away. There
were no regrets regarding her last days on Earth because Simin knew that they had
taken good care of their mother. She only wished she could have done more.
However, Ghodsi Joon's nurses and social workers were amazed by her daughter's
devotion. A few days after Ghodsi Joon's passing, a nurse told Simin, "Your
mother lived as long as she did because of you and your sister. I will be telling
your story for years to come."
A dutiful daughter and a devoting mother. Both make sacrifices for the happiness
of others, and both are loved. They are two parts of one single and amazing individual.
A person of such a character sets a high standard for the rest of us to follow. I
just hope that I can make my mother as proud as she has made me.