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Saba Shawel




For those who don't know me, I'm Saba Shawel. I'm one of my Emayes' older grandchildren, however I've probably known her the shortest amount of time. From the first time I was reintroduced to her, which was well into my adulthood, she treated me as if she'd been around me my entire life. And although there was a language barrier between us, we connected and bonded spiritually. She made sure to express her love to me in nonverbal ways and I never felt a shortage of love from her.


While her demeanor was quiet and soft, her faith was loud and strong. She made me want to walk taller and stronger in my faith. I truly wish I had more time to spend with her and share the incredible blessings taking place in my life in the near future, but I'm content in knowing that she knew I loved and respected her very much. May she rest in peace.




Selam Berhane


Almazeye, you loved when I called you that. I never dreamt of the day when I would stop hearing your voice. You called me " Ye Chuchu  kalkale lidj" (የቹቹ ቀልቃላ ልጅ). You came and stayed with us when my brother was born. Your rosary, bible and perfumes were staples in all of your children’s houses.  I helped you with your English class, you tried to teach me how to bake your bread which I still am trying to recreate, and opened the world of baking to me when my mom wouldn't allow me in the kitchen. Your daughters share your sensitivity to smells and every time I spray perfume all over clean blankets and sheets I think of you. I miss your smile that genuinely beamed everytime you saw us, your perfect teeth and beautiful lips that radiated positivity with charming conversation . I miss your sense of humor and I miss the disgusted looks you make when hearing something you don't like, or when we don't try hard enough.


You showed me what it means to have a limitless capacity to give from your heart. You gave me things when no one was looking. You weren't afraid to stand in your truth. You rooted for the underdog. You were the voice of the voiceless. You went out of your way to defend the defenseless.  I miss your hugs and will always remember the comfort and warmth of your embrace. We will always carry your legacy with us. I love you and I'm grateful to have been loved by you.



Isabel Shawel


One day I was with my grandmother and she was staring at some flowers that my cousins, Tabia and Hermela, had sent her. She said,

“እናንተ ያመጣችኃቸው አበቦች አይጠወልጉም፣ አይረግፉም፥”

“The flowers they gave don’t ever wither or fade”

I answered,

“እማዬ፤ ለዚህ መሆን ዋና ምልክቱ ፍቅር ስለሆነ ነው።”

“Emaye, it’s because of love.”

My Emaye always made me laugh with her humor

Especially with her comebacks with you Uncle Mesfin, like when you talked her ear off thinking she couldn’t hear you, and then she begged all of us to please get the chatterbox man to be quiet

I remember her saluting you when you walked in the room; she always reserved the best of her wit for you

Just like I saw Emaye trace your face in her last days, she has imprinted her soul onto yours

Continue to unite the family with your charm and laughter

My Emaye lives on in you.

My Emaye loved to adorn herself like a queen, and we adored her dresses and expensive perfumes

Auntie Mimi, I remember one of her last beaming smiles was when you asked to put on her makeup and her favorite lotion for her

Emaye once told me that I couldn’t care for others unless I cared for myself first, and that the meaning of life was to live in truth

Auntie Mimi, she trusted that you cared for her beauty like you cared for your own

Continue to stay true to your name, beautiful on the inside and out

My Emaye lives on in you.

My Emaye always lavished us kids with love and kept us close

She would love to just look at us, caress our hands, and would say that we gave her long life

Uncle Geli, you’ve always been the one to kiss and tickle us with endless love

And I see this same infectious love between you and your daughter

When Emaye reached out to touch you for the last time, she was giving you her heart

Know that this love that’s inside of you came from her and will never leave

My Emaye lives on in you.

My Emaye’s light had a way of crowding out any darkness in her vicinity

Auntie Ochi, I know when she looked in your face by her bedside, she felt the same way about you

She called you her Emebate when you weren’t around and she trusted in you to care for all her needs

You have a special grace that heals the family and a gentleness that calms our souls

Know that Emaye’s prayers to God were answered, and she remains

My Emaye lives on in you.

My Emaye felt genuine joy in gathering us around food and love

Her hands were blessed with fruitfulness and abundance in everything she touched

Auntie Bethu, it was your hands that fed Emaye during her last days, and you continue to feed her as you gather us and keep her hope of our family unity alive

She could never eat or be without you for long, and she never will have to

My Emaye lives on in you.

My Emaye had an amazing memory, and I would love to listen to stories of her childhood and her own mother.

Auntie Chuchu, you remind me of her when you bring us back to the good old days when we were young

You were there till the end; her chosen one, her friend

Continue to bless us with your forever young spirit

My Emaye lives on in you.

I loved to sleep with my Emaye, and peek at her early in the morning reading from her prayer book

My grandma was full of wisdom and so close to God that she would ask Him how His day was,

Daddy, I was amazed at how Emaye would walk extra laps and get a surge of energy whenever you were around

She looked up to you and listened to everything her doctor son and wise confidante said

Now when I’m home and I wake up early in the morning, I see you with Emaye’s same prayer book, receiving your wisdom from the same source

My Emaye lives on in you.

Know that the best in us is what we’ve received from Emaye, because she’s received from God.

She practiced her faith, and we’ve all been touched by her love.

Let’s follow her example, and allow her love to live on in us.

 እማዬ፤  እናንተ ያመጣችኃቸው አበቦች አይጠወልጉም፣ አይረግፉም፥ ብለሽ አልሽ።

ለዚህ መሆን ዋና ምልክቱ ፍቅር ስለሆነ ነው።

“The flowers they gave don’t ever wither or fade,” you said.

“Emaye, it’s because of love.”




Tabia Shawel


Yene konjo, Yene Emebet, Yene Enat, Yene Hode, Yene Hewet...this is how my Grandma greeted me and all she came into contact with. Many, if not all of you can attest to this. It is only pure love that can recognize the beauty in all things. Ena Emaye ye ewnet fikir nat.


My Grandmother was a highly favored woman, most notably among her children. The late 80s and early 90s was what I call the baby boom in my family so of course my Grandmother was highly sought after. She would go from house to house, moving from Canada, to LA to Orange County, just to shower her grandchildren with her precious love. One day she professed, "ዕረ እናንተ ልጆች ካንዱ ቤት አንዱ ቤት ስታመላልሱኝ እረሳና ጅብ እንዳይበላኝ ትልነበር." She was indeed a unique and beautiful being. Among the many things I'll miss is her warm embrace, her soothing words, and her healing hands.  Just ask anyone who's ever had a headache and gotten a head rub from her. One touch releases any tension, stress, fear, doubt, and worry. After all, ye Emaye egj medaneet no.



My gratitude is limitless. Thank you for praying for me when I forgot to pray for myself. Thank you for believing in me when I wasn't so confident. Thank you for exemplifying what the power and love of God can yield in life.There is a saying that reads,


"Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy."

Well my beloved, your star will shine on for eternity. And whenever I'm in need of guidance, I will look to the heavens and be guided by your light. My love for you is immeasurable. You may no longer be physically present, but your spirit will live forever. Today, and forever more, we celebrate your life. And so it is, Amen.



Johnathan Shawel


Emaye was many things.  She was strong, loving, happy.  She was a fighter.  A protector.  But most of all, Emaye was a giver.  She gave and gave and gave.  Whether it be through gifts, through her love, or through her prayers.  She was always thinking of others.


Before she passed, she left me with one more gift.  To give some context, you must know that I bite my fingernails.  It is not by choice but rather, an unflattering bad habit.  A burden that has bothered me for some time.  Because of this, my hands are very distinct.  I remember sitting by her bedside, when she held my hand, looked at it and said “I know these hands.  These hands belong to Shawel, my husband.”  It turns out that I wasn’t the only one who had a habit of biting their fingernails and in fact I shared that quality with my grandfather.


In that moment, I looked up and saw her face.  A face that I will never forget.  She had a smile, but she wasn’t in the room.  She was somewhere far far away.  Almost like a dream.  And now, every time I look at my hands, I won’t see the burden that they used to be.  Instead I will see her face.  I will see happiness.  I will see love.  I will see everything she stood for.  And any good I do with these hands, will be done by her.  You see, Emaye was a giver.  Even though she is not here with us in the flesh, she still continues to give. 



Robel Kevorkian


There was never a time in my life that I can remember that you weren't down the hall from me. You were always there and if you weren't you would call me about 2 or 3 times a day and ask me the same questions,"Did you eat? Do you have money? Do you need anything?”  

My Grandma cared about me more than I cared about myself. By nature you were just a selfless, giving, kind hearted person. I am who I am today because of you. You weren't just my Grandma you were my friend. I would talk to you about everything, things I was afraid or embarrassed to talk about with other people, and you never ever judged me.


I remember one time when me and my brother were fighting and we hadn't talked to each other for over a week - this drove Emaye crazy because she hated seeing any of us fighting. So one day she called me and my brother into her room and made me kiss his feet, his knees, hug him and beg him for forgiveness. I was furious! I just kept thinking to myself, “Why would she make me apologize when I didn't do anything wrong?” About 20 minutes later, Emaye walked in my room sat down beside me and said, “Ene endaltesasatk awkalehu. Geen hulgeze yikirtan teyaki endetehon efelegalehu. Egziabher yemiwedew yehenen new,” kissed me and went back to her room.


 I'm going to miss your lessons, your advice, your hugs, your kisses and you telling me everything's going to be Ok. I wish there was more I could've done to make you proud. I'm going to miss you so much. I love you so much. Thank you for fighting for us so we could have you for that much longer. You're the strongest person I've ever met. Emamye hulgeze belibe wist nesh. EWEDESHALEHU.



Betty Ayele


My Love


Life alone is not a gift

It needs someone like Emaye to give it a lift

She was kind and she was brave

For our joy and love is what she saved

I shall not weep, I shall not cry

For now her soul is free to fly

She was as graceful as a dove

But now she soars truly up above

Yet this poem shows only a portion of my love.




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