Bharat M. Bhatt
Imagine what your first love feels like. You feel that warm fuzzy feeling in your soul, the thought of this person brings you safety and comfort. That’s exactly how I would describe my love for my Dada.
The tenacity, drive, and power he carried exemplified who he was as the patriarch of our family. Bringing his whole family over from India to start a new life here in the United States was no small feat. I imagine the years it took to sponsor and settle his sisters and brother came with hardships and trials. Yet he continued to put his family first and work hard to give the gift of a better life in the USA.
He and his wife, Bharat’s Baa, raised two strong children, a son and a daughter. Living in a one bedroom apartment in Queens, New York is no easy task. The kids had to sleep in the living room and started working at very young ages. Bharat Dada always pushed his children to work hard and be grateful for what life can provide.
Later after his children both married and started having children of their own, he found himself settled in North Olmstead working as a Line Manager at Varbros. He was extremely successful and managed his team for 10 years. During that time he would have us grandchildren over to his and Baa’s apartment where we would have sleepovers and pizza parties. This man was as strong as an ox and he would show off his headstand trick to everyone! We often visited their apartment to go swimming as Dada was a master diver and would show off his fun swimming tricks!
He was not only caring towards his grandchildren, but towards the children of his apartment complex. He was affectionately deemed the “Candy Man” by the kids who would play around in the yard of the housing area because he would throw down candy to these children from his second story balcony.
Not only did Dada love everyone in his life, he made sure to love the most important being, Bhagwan (god). Dada woke early every morning and recited his pooja (prayer) and bathed his deities. He never forgot the true reason as to how he was able to accomplish everything in his life. Along with his morning prayers came a cup of chai with one packet of Equal from Baa and his favorite snack, ganthiya.
When anyone would come to the grandparents apartment, once you neared their floor, you could hear the Dada at the top of the stairs saying “Oh maro betu, oh maro deku” doing his jolly dance with excitement as his family came to see him.
As he aged, we noticed him forgetting simple things. His forgetfulness progressed rapidly and we were told by his physician that he was being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was a devastating blow to the family. Slowly he struggled at completing his everyday tasks and his children had to make the difficult decision to house him in a nursing home where he would have more help and support.
Even with the challenges he faced he never forgot about god. He had a small stuffed monkey in his nursing home room that he respectfully referred to as Hanuman Dada. He prayed to this figure every day, always remembering his roots.
As his days went by, our family saw a rapid decrease in his way of life and had to make the decision to move him to a Hospice center. On May 22, 2014, Bharat Dada passed away peacefully, surrounded by his entire family chanting “Hare Rama” as his soul left for its next journey.
Now imagine my thoughts, a 20-year-old girl losing the first love of her life. I was devastated, scared, and confused. But I always remembered the lessons my Dada taught me growing up and how to persevere through life’s challenges. To this day, as a 29-year-old woman, married, starting my own family, I cherish the values and beliefs that were instilled in me by him. I can only hope he has seen the woman I have become and is proud of my accomplishments thus far. I’ll always love you, Dada AKA Our Candy Man.