In loving memory of our father...
Surendrabhai Kalidas Patel
Sept 9, 1928 – Oct 15, 2012
Parents: Kalidas and Valiben (Vankaner)
Siblings: Chhaganbhai and Maniben
Survived by: Kamlaben (wife), Ajay (Son) and Anjana, Mamta (Daughter) and Dilip
Grandchildren: Anand, Tamanna, Anisha and Akshay
The above family tree does not do justice to him. He has touched numerous lives. In reality, he was a true son to not only his parents, but his three mamas (Rambhai, Ranchoddbhai and Kanjibhai), and his masi (Mithiben). Though not the oldest among the cousins, he commanded the respect of his mamas and the community and was viewed as the natural head of his maternal family. Even though he lost his sister in 1971, he still counted eight sisters. He was the one who worked tirelessly for others, putting the interest of his extended family first and before his own. Everybody called him mama regardless of their age. He was a father figure to numerous people (Dayanandbhai, Yoginiben, Punitaben, Pankajbhai, Vijaybhai, Umeshbhai, Kalubhabhi, Sarojbhabhi, Charubhabhi, Amitaben, Nanumama, Diwan to name some) and a close friend to so many others.
He loved life and loved to not only eat but to feed others as well. He loved to travel in big groups and organized numerous trips to bring people of all ages together. He was a very social and practical person and had the charismatic personality and magnetism to connect with people of any age or status. He was a pillar of strength and wisdom and showed genuine care for everyone he touched. He had no ego and his consideration for others went beyond his family: taking no kanyadaan as his employees attending the wedding would have to financially stretch themselves to give gifts considering his status or making sure the planning of group trips included travel arrangements that would not financially burden anyone.
He was diagnosed with cancer in 1970 which reoccurred multiple times. Most individuals would have buckled knowing they may have little time left because of this dreadful disease. It is only due to his strong will-power that he has been able to live such a long and fulfilling life. His motto was 'live to eat' instead of 'eat to live' and even though he could not drink water in the last three years, he never complained or made us feel guilty. Instead, he spent so much time making sure those of us who could eat were eating well. And even while being physically weak, to the very last day his mind was very agile and his attention to details and care was stunning. He was constantly reminding Diwan to take his medicine, he once made us call the rental car driver to remind him to take a sweater, and he even charged the cell phone before we left home and gave Akshay a flashlight in case of an outage.
As a father, he encouraged us to live life to our fullest potential. He never lectured or put restrictions but taught us to be humble, respectful and responsible through his actions and deeds. Even though we will miss him, he would hate to see us cry or grieve over him; instead, he would want us to embrace and celebrate his life. And what more fitting tribute to him that his Guruji Pramukh Swami,while ill and frail, personally called to bless his soul when he heard the news.
Mamta, Ajay, Dilip and Anjana