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Badrolmolouk Mozoun Fanian.Courtesy of family

Badrolmolouk Mozoun Fanian: Teacher. Great-grandmother. Immigrant. Canadian. Born in 1919, in Hamedan, Iran; died April 18, 2021, in Toronto, of complications following COVID-19; aged 102.

It’s traditional at the passing of a loved one to talk about when and where she was born, who her family was and what she did, tracing her life on a line, connecting the dots on a family tree. Badrolmolouk Mozoun Fanian was not a traditional woman. And so, I will talk about who she was – who she continues to be, in our memories and in our lives.

Above all, she was a teacher.

Being a teacher was more than a job; it was the core of her being. She started early, right after she graduated at 17 from the American School in the Western Iranian city of Hamedan. She went from one success to another. Her last formal teaching position in Iran was at one of the most prestigious girls’ schools in Iran. I remember going there with her one summer when I was six or seven; the love and respect of her students was evident to my child’s eye.

She was a teacher; she was a role model.

Badrolmolouk had not lived a life of ease and comfort. Her patience – her serenity – came out of a life marked by deep sadness and cataclysmic change and a lifetime of turmoil. Her grandfather, an Iranian poet, was hunted, imprisoned, flogged and bastinadoed for his faith; her father, beaten and pursued for his faith. And yet, this same father, when his oldest daughter was killed because of a doctor’s mistake, forgave the doctor and protected her from retribution. Badrolmolouk, at the foot of this father, in the gentle shadow of a broken grandfather, learned and taught peace and fortitude and the serenity of spirit that poets speak of but one rarely sees.

She was a teacher, a role model, a woman of faith.

Her family name connected her to her faith: Mozoun was a title bestowed upon her grandfather by the prophet Baha’ullah, for his belief, for his poetry, for his sacrifices. But for a Baha’i, true faith is about striving to be a better person. I cannot recall, even once, hearing her gossip; I know of no instance of malice or ill-will. No one recalls a lie she might have told; there is no memory of her being a religious scold. In her kindness, she was the very exemplar of faith itself.

She was a teacher, a role model, a woman of faith, a mother.

Having lost her own parents at a young age and having lived through war and persecution, she understood her role as a mother was to serve first as a beacon and then as an anchor. She emigrated to Canada in her 60s; she found work at that age as a substitute teacher to sponsor her family; and she told them, “If you want to see me again, come to Canada; I will not go back to Iran.” And so all her five children emigrated to Canada.

Her family is here, in peace, in security, in health because of her vision and her determination.

Badrolmolouk lived to get a letter from the Queen for celebrating her 100th birthday; she survived pneumonia; she even survived COVID-19 but died from complications of the disease.

The Greek philosopher Solon warned, “Count no one happy until they are dead,” for the Fates spare no one from the Furies. By that measure, Maman Joon, my grandmother, would have been the happiest person when her soul parted for the heavens.

Rambod Behboodi is Badrolmolouk’s oldest grandson.

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