The Princess’s Annual Christmas Address

Well, true to form, the year has had it’s share ups and downs.

The last year, ended off with the passing of my cousin Neeta, a very young and sweet soul. It’s hard to believe it’s now been a year since she’s been gone. You can view the memorial video here: Remembering Neeta

Things started picking up at Ryerson in January as my responsibilities increased and I got to actually run some classes. I really need to help and teach in my life. I knew that already, but this just confirmed it. I am thankful that I’ve had so many champions that have given me the opportunities to enjoy this part of my life.

Around the same time, I had an old…friend come back into my life. It may have been short, but we both needed each other. And though I wasn’t the one, I knew I could be for someone. I may not have found them yet, but at least now, I have hope.

The summer started off slowly and I tried once again to convince Ryerson that they need me full time and see sense. I threatened to leave, and leave I did…sort of. It’s wasnt’ until a month after I joined one of the top three mayoral campaigns in Toronto that I was asked to return. How could I refuse? So I looked after 1500 first year students while working full time on the campaign.

Ah, yes…the campaign. That was the biggest curve ball I caught this year. I certainly learned a lot and met some wonderful people, especially the candidate himself, Joe Pantalone (@jpantalone – if he decides to pick it up again). I had the pleasure of working beside him for 12-14 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week for weeks at a stretch. But all good things must come to an end and I finally had to return the keys to the smart car. I’m not sure what Joe is going to do next, but I know he’ll land on his feet.Me and the Smart Car

And if all this wasn’t enough, I moved at Thanksgiving into my own apartment, two weeks before the end of the campaign. I haven’t lived on my own in 10 years, but I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it. Will try to have you all over sometime. (Don’t forget the wine.)

Unfortunately, my last grandparent, Phyllis Mills went to join her husband Gordon in eternal rest around Remembrance Day. As I did 12 years ago when Gradad left this earth, I got up as the eldest grandchild and read the 23rd Psalm. She led a full and great life. We are sure that Grandad was waiting for her when she arrived and said to her <insert Corrie Street/Ozzy Osbourne sounding English accent here> “It’s about bloody time woman! Where’s me tea?” We will still be having Christmas in her home this year, but it won’t be the same without her. Her online memorial can be found here: In Memory of Phyllis Mills. I’m going to update it in the coming months as I scan more photos for archiving.

So dear friends, as always there are more of you now than there were at this time last year; something I am always thankful for, especially at this time of year. And though the ones we’ve lost can never be replaced, I believe that the void that remains can be filled with the love of those that surround us.

As for the coming year, it can only get better. <Insert your divinity of choice here>-willing, my gradings will start again next September. Here’s hoping that with the new year comes new employment and good health.

I want to thank each and everyone of you that has taken time out of your busy lives, especially at this time of year to read this. If you are, you have touched my life and I am truly grateful. May you and those around you know peace, health and happiness all of your days.

With all my love

-Shanta Claus

aka: The Princess


Neeta and Sarika

Neeta and Sarika

From my cousin Meera:

“Dear Friends and Family,
Neeta, my unstoppable little sister who tenaciously conquered every obstacle in her path, finally chose to rest at 3:30 this morning. She wanted to fight against this infection, and she did as hard as she could, but it was so very difficult for her. Her heart failed just minutes after we brought Sarika to her who sweetly waved goodbye. Neeta is now at peace. Of course, this news deeply saddens us, but we are relieved that she is liberated from her suffering.

Neeta had many challenges in her life, with the onset of kidney failure when she was a toddler, her kidney transplant as a teenager, numerous illnesses from rejections, and lastly, cancer, chemotherapy, and infection. Despite all that she had undergone, she never let her ailments erode her compassionate, courageous and spunky spirit, right up to Saturday when she was sedated. Nor did she allow her illnesses to limit her experiences of life and her ability to touch other people’s lives. She walked to the beat of her own drum.

Her life was full. She was student council president in junior high and high school, and valedictorian. She was a style fashionista like any other urbanite, but also loved the outdoors and the environment. In her twenties, she hiked, camped, and cross-country skied in the Rockies, and lived in a teepee in the small village of Argenta in the interior of British Columbia when she was a tree planter. Neeta had a forestry degree from Lakehead University and worked as a conservation officer in northern Ontario. Most recently she worked for an NGO that certified sustainable forestry practices, and was starting her own business as a currency trader, to give her the flexibility to work from home. Her most favourite pastime was being a masi (aunt) to her niece Sarika, whom she loved the very most in this world.

Though Tim and I were not able to respond to all your emails of love and prayers, we shared them all with her and it pleased her. She relied on all your energies and appreciated all your support. When she was just a toddler, I remember sitting with my mom in the reception of Sick Kids Hospital, asking if Neeta was going to die. Doctors had told us then that she had only 6 months to live. Somehow our family was blessed with 30 more years and we are so thankful for that.

Thank you for all your love and support. Please, don’t just be saddened by this news, but celebrate with us the rich life that she lived.


UPDATE: I decided to update this the day after her birthday, 2012. She’s been gone for almost 3 years and she’s still with us. Here’s the tribute video done by Meera. Happy birthday Neeta. We still miss you.