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Kumari Gurujal

ALS Angel

Kumari means daughter of the sun. In other words, you should have a bright, joyous personality, you should exude warmth, people should want to surround you and lastly, your aura will never dim or extinguish - like a star that will burn bright for eternity.

That was my mom. Her smile radiated, her laugh was infectious. My mom found joy in everything and she brought joy to everything.

Kumari Gurujal was born on July 2nd, 1942.  Her upbringing was special as she was loved by her father.  He encouraged her education, a rarity for Indian women. He encouraged her to outdo her brothers, in anything and everything. He took her on business trips, again, unheard of in those times. As a father, he was no different than any other man with his daughter. What made him unique was the times and the environment. When I asked Kumari, was she afraid to die, she said no, I’m looking forward to seeing my father again. I want to thank him for the life he gave me.

Kumari married Purshothamdas Gurujal at the age of 18. It was an arranged marriage to a man from another part of the country. There were language barriers and a ten year age difference. Neither one knew anything about love or companionship. Their union was a test of endurance. Their marriage lasted 53 years til Dr. Das passed away. When he passed in her arms, she shed a tear, kissed him, thanked him and said she loved him.

Dr. Das and Kumari had two children and they were the light of their lives, particularly hers. The two brothers were different in every way imaginable but each was made to feel as if they were her favorite.

In February of 2019, after experiencing several dramatic falls, Kumari was taken to the Mayo Clinic where she was diagnosed with ALS. Her doctor told her that she needed to get her affairs in order and he gave her a 2-5 year life expectancy, each moment of which would be worse than the one before. Kumari only asked, where can one get the best steak in Rochester? And that is what she did. She went out and got the best steak in Rochester. And she enjoyed every bite.

I think of that story often because that moment defined her. Kumari could only see the good in everything and everyone. What should have been the saddest moment of her life, became an event to cherish. Kumari relished the steak, savored every bite and took her time to eat it. That is how she lived - relish the moment, savor the details, large and small and take your time. You only have that one moment, make it count.

Kumari’s last year of life was a testament to all that is possible. When she could barely stand, she found a way to start the ALS Walk and she ended it on her own two feet. When she couldn’t travel, she found a way to go to China and stand on top of the Great Wall, her arms held high in defiance. She traveled to India and showed her grandson the treasures she could. During her travels through China and India, she praised God in temples, in churches, in mosques and at the foothills of the Himalayian mountains.  Her faith grew but her gift to others was to strengthen their faith in God.

ALS put her on tv and her story in magazines. ALS strengthened her will to be independent. While beating ALS wasn’t an option, deciding how to live-and die-was. Kumari made every moment count until her last minute in her body. She laughed with ease and joy. She smiled through the pain and the loss of dignity. Her radiance never dimmed so on her terms, she beat ALS. She never stopped being Kumari, daughter of the sun.

Kumari Gurujal
Kumari Gurujal
Kumari Gurujal
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