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Mohinder Chadha.

Mohinder Chadha: Mother. Wife. Talented cook. Skilled seamstress. Born May 5, 1947, in Kamoki, India; died Aug. 12, 2017, in Brampton, Ont., of sepsis and cardiac failure; aged 70.

Mohinder Chadha (née Dilawari) was proud of the fact that she was born in 1947, the auspicious year of India's independence from Britain's colonial rule. Second born (Mohinder had three sisters and two brothers), she was a sweet-natured, shy child. Mohinder's biological family lived in Amritsar, the Sikh cultural heartland of India, but she was adopted and raised by her childless Hindu aunt and uncle 500 kilometres away in Delhi. Mohinder was literally adopted into her own family – her biological and adopted mothers were sisters and her biological and adopted fathers were brothers.

Growing up in the cosmopolitan capital, Mohinder attended teacher's college in Delhi. Then, one day, she undertook the strenuous uphill pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi temple, a famous shrine dedicated to the Hindu Mother Goddess. On the hike, she met a woman who was struck by her kindness, devotion and beauty, and she promptly sought Mohinder's hand in matrimony for her bachelor son, Rajinder.

At 19, she married into the boisterous Chadha clan and emigrated with Rajinder to Canada in 1969. The move quickly changed Mohinder from mild to mighty. She spoke her mind and stood up for her beliefs. Mohinder's bountiful, curry-scented kitchen was a legendary pit stop for newcomers to Canada, who Raj and Mohinder attentively shepherded into Canadian life.

Moving from Toronto to Brampton in the early 1970s, Mohinder worked a variety of jobs, including bookkeeper, ESL tutor and hospital clerk. Mohinder was a skilled seamstress and sewed an attractive assortment of outfits for her daughters, her granddaughter and innumerable nieces and grandnieces. Many of her self-designed, colourful cotton sundresses and silk-embroidered Punjabi suits have passed down through the generations. Mohinder knit slippers for the elderly even when her hands were frail, and was still working on a sweater for her beloved granddaughter, Vidya, when she died.

Mohinder bravely underwent five cardiac surgeries for mitral valve replacements (unheard of, noted one of her surgeons, Dr. Tirone David). She never complained. Even gravely ill, Mohinder smiled and encouraged others.

Her life journey was marked by many symbolic sign-posts and juxtapositions: adopted child to new adopted Canadian homeland; courageous open-heart patient and the spiritual heart of an extended multiethnic and multifaith family; chosen daughter-in-law on the mountainous steps of the Mother Goddess temple to a founding citizen of an Indo-Canadian community in Brampton and so on.

She was caring, loyal, supportive and cheerful. Her daughters, Ena and Meena, and granddaughter, Vidya, each liked to claim she was Mohinder's favourite best friend. However, that honour was bestowed on Raj. Mohinder loved Raj by her side and she was his "rock" and soulmate. She clung to Raj in her last conscious moments as her defibrillator repeatedly fired, sending shocks to her heart, reverberating through her body into Raj's chest as he held her in his arms.

Ena Chadha is Mohinder's eldest daughter.

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