By Iman Sadri
Long before there was the retail store Bebe – there was my grandmother Bebe – Hadavi. Fatima Bebe Hadavi was born in 1924 and died peacefully on Saturday early morning in Tehran at the age of 95. Before she passed she was in an out of the hospital battling pneumonia. She also suffered several strokes recently and was in the process of recuperating.
She was given the nickname Bebe, which in her dialect of Shoushtari, means ‘Grand Woman.’ She was given the moniker when she became a grandmother, at the young age of 36.
Bebe Jazayeri Hadavi had 10 grandchildren and 15 Great Grandchildren. She was the matriarch of the Hadavi family – giving spawn to my mother Mahvash, her brother, my Uncle Mamad and my Aunt Mehri. She was traditional, religious and conservative. But she held virtuous values that she passed on to her kids and grandkids.
I will always remember her Neemroo Egg breakfast 🍳 – she always added extra butter and oil for more flavor in her eggs. Bebe also made excellent Addas Polo – Persian Lentil Stew. The smell of her Kutlet (Persian Beef Patty Cutlet) also emanated from the kitchen on many occasions.
I remember driving her to her favorite retail store, Loehmann’s, when she would visit us in Sacramento. When I started driving at the age of 16 and asked her for directions to the store she would simply give hand gestures. Flickering her wrist forward to go straight and to the side to go right or left. Those hand gestures have remained as a way for the passenger to give the driver directions.
Bebe was married to my grandfather Agha Joon Hadavi from 1940 until his death in 2016. My grandfather was into technology, music and history. Grandma Bebe had different, more conservative interests, yet their marriage lasted over 76 years.
Bebe was always very loving and protective. She always encouraged education – she produced three dentists and two physicians and many other professionals among her grandchildren.
One funny anecdote was how Bebe travelled. Six months out of the year she would come to the Bay Area, where Agha Joon had a place in Redwood City. She would travel to our home in Sacramento on many occasions and stay with our family. She would always bring two enormous suitcases every trip. It always seemed that one suitcase was reserved for industrial sized air-dryers – like from the movie Spaceballs.
From that point forward any time anyone Overpacks, it is referred to as Traveling Bebe Style. One thing is for certain now that Bebe has passed on. She will be arriving to Heaven’s gate’s a countless supply of love and suitcases.
Iman Sadri was Bebe’s youngest grandchild and is the founder of The Persian Observer