A Tribute to a Life Well Lived
Below I am sharing my eulogy for my dear father-in-law, Shangara Singh, who passed away on July 3rd, 2018. .
My name is Sheila. I am Captain’s wife, and Shangara Singh’s daughter-in-law.
I held Dad very close to my heart, and in talking to friends in his community, I have come to know that many of you equally held Dad with great love, respect and admiration. It has been awe-inspiring to hear the stories of Dad’s commitment and devotion to the welfare of his community. Those who experienced his generosity know what I am speaking about. He was often available to help friends and family when they were in need, and he never asked for much in return apart from sincerity and honesty. He was not one who needed acknowledgement or praise. The act of seva and generosity itself was enough.
As you might imagine, along with community, Dad was wholly devoted to his family. While as an engineer, he had a precise and sharp mind, as a father figure, he held us all with a warm and loving heart. With his children, he had the ability to become a child again. It was one of his many gifts. I saw it in the way he related to his granddaughters, Sophia and Sonia. He way playful, loving and doted on them. In fact, he would affectionately address them as Sonia-ji and Sophia-ji. He was always willing to listen to the many things pre-teen girls are interested in talking about… and available to go to the playground for soccer, to make late night trips to the grocery store for snacks, or to attend the many school functions the girls had. In fact, I don’t remember him ever saying no to the girls for anything. This was the sweetness of his love as a grandfather.
As a father, he offered guidance, but not too much, nor too little. Captain and I felt genuinely cared for, but Dad rarely imposed his opinions on us. He gifted us the freedom to explore and learn, and offered his unconditional support. Often it was his quiet and gentle presence that made me feel so at ease around him.
The past several years, Mom and Dad were spending summers with us in Austin. I cannot tell you the numerous ways in which Dad helped us. This past summer he spent countless hours attending to things in our home that needed to be repaired. I saw the amount of time he was devoting, yet he rarely talked about all that he was doing, nor did he ask for recognition or thanks. During the summer, I would often have a week or two where I would work full days and need help with the girls. He always offered support saying, “Sheila, don’t worry. Just tell me how I can help with the girls and I will be there.” This was the kindness of his love as a father.
Still, some of my fondest memories of Dad are the hikes that we would take together on our summer travels. He was always the one who was eager to go on when everyone else was tired. He and I would continue hiking; easy conversation weaved together with peaceful silence. Usually, I was the one who would have to urge Dad that we should turn around and return, in case the others began to worry. The spirit of adventure and love for the outdoors was very much alive in him.
Last though not least, I appreciated Dad’s simplicity and humility. To me it was a sign of how evolved he was as a human being. He had high ideals when it came to truthfulness and integrity, yet he did not have a strong ego. He remained humble despite his many life achievements, and he remembered that the simple things in life were in fact the most important. He did not seem to be caught in the waves of constantly striving and seeking for more. He had the capacity to slow down and enjoy the moment. I think because of this he carried a profound peacefulness about him, and this peacefulness was often transmitted to those around him. I know that I experienced this.
While I have attempted to describe Dad’s legacy as I have come to know it, words cannot fully describe how much he will be missed. It has been a great honor and privilege for me to have called Shangara Singh my Dad. Though he is no longer with us in physical form, his love, energy and wisdom remains with us eternally.