Honoring a True Mompreneur
I still remember the very first time I met Lilly.
I’ve been working on a business project with her son Ashkan and he was visiting his mother, in the nursing home. Ashkan called me via the WhatsApp Video and said “Michele, I’d like to introduce you to my Mom, Lilly.” Ashkan had this big proud smile on his face that touched my heart. And when I saw Lilly for the first time it was like seeing an Angel, she had this glow around her face and this subtle smile. I got this warm feeling as I said “Hi” to Lilly. Even Though Lilly couldn’t talk much I knew she had a story to tell.
Although I did not have the honor to interview Lilly personally, I was able to learn her story about her from her devoted son Ashkan Tabibnia and this is what I learned about Lilly.
If society judged people by the beauty of their Neshama instead of the level of their social standing, Lilly would have been on the cover of Time Magazine.
If one documented Lilly’s life, they could write a master’s thesis on ‘human character’.
Leah Ahava Tabibnia was born in Mashad, Iran. Lilly was then raised in Tehran, but that never stopped Lilly’s soul from resonating the epitome of love for her nucleus family.
As Lilly developed into a beauty, she could have had her choice of suiters, however “like attracts like ” and Lilly was drawn to the inner beauty of a handsome blind man. When Lilly looked at Shamse, Lilly didn’t see a blind man. All Lilly was able to see was the blinding inner beauty, charm, and depth of Shams Tabibnia’s soul and character. And she didn’t care who would stare.
If strangers on the street took pity, Lilly felt bad for them because they would live their lives lacking all of the qualities…the heart, soul, and wisdom of Solomon that her husband possessed. It was common for Lilly to take food out of her mouth if someone else was hungry. However, the way Lilly cooked, there was never a shortage of food. Her cooking was manna from heaven every time. Even during the toughest of times, during the revolution when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard arrested Shamseunder false pretenses of being a Zionist spy, Lilly kept her family together.
When Sadam Hussian was bombing their town, all of Shams relatives were safe in Beverly Hills yet Lilly was left alone to protect her blind husband, his blind sister, and three young children, Lilly kept her family safe and together. When Lilly and her family became refugees in Vienna her entire family would be sitting on their suitcases as the snow came down. Yet, Lilly held strong with the bravery of Golda Mier and kept her family together. She raised her children to become good Iranian /American Jews and she instilled the imperative necessity to always live life with the epitome of character and to always radiate love to all no matter what.
All these qualities are the essence of a Sadik (Saint). Even when so many houseguests that she cooked for and entertained over the years lost her phone number when she suffered in a nursing home, Lilly Tabibnia would lead with love and go as far as to kiss the hand of her caretakers because although she didn’t speak much English (but that never discouraged her from trying and trying) the beauty of Lilly’s Neshama managed to resonate to all who were blessed to cross her path.
Lilly Tabibnia will always be remembered and her concern for her family made her wealthier than the Shah himself, who she loved …and met. In closing Lilly’s family and anyone that was ever graced by Lilly Tabibnia’s presence were shown the essence of how a Jew is supposed to carry themselves and do their very best to make everyone’s life that they come into contact with a loving, nurturing sanctuary. Pretty much everything that the ethics of our fathers teaches was instinctual to Lilly Tabibnia. Lilly Tabibnia always was and will always be an angel.