A Colorful Story by NC Murthy
As a very active businessman in his late fifties, I can easily say that I’ve been through a great deal in my life. But when I think of it, none of the things I have been through have challenged me as much as writing this story- the story of my beloved wife, Canan. Even though I know that I cannot fit our life together in a few paragraphs, and most probably I won’t be satisfied by the language as I try to find the perfect words to describe her, I will do my best to introduce you to an amazing woman who continues to inspire me every single day.
I’ve met Canan in 1991 in Detroit at the company where we both worked. It took me only a few weeks to admire her independent, hardworking and honest nature. She came from a middle -income family, but never let limited financial means hold her back. As she believed education was the only way for her to move forward in life, she dedicated herself to her studies. She went to college at Middle Eastern Technical University, one of the best universities in Turkey, and came to the U.S. for the first time as an exchange student. She worked at three jobs to be able to afford her stay in the U.S. She completed her MBA at Butler University in Indiana. As a determined woman, she made her way up in the corporate world, where we met. As we worked together, we came to realize that we completed each other in many ways. We decided to become business partners, and started our own company together. In only five years, the IT staffing company we built together grew incredibly to $22 million in revenue at which point we sold it to a major public company. She was the source of our success.
Our relationship, which started as colleagues, quickly turned into a lifelong companionship. We got married in 1993, and in 1994 we welcomed our only child, Arjun. We were so happy in our own little world that we did not see what was coming. Our life took a U-turn when Canan was diagnosed with ALS, a deadly disease you’ve probably heard of mentioned before through the famous ice bucket challenge or Stephan Hawking. We were lucky that we had the means to consult to the best doctors in the world. We traveled everywhere looking for a solution and tried everything from natural treatments to innovative therapies and stem cell transplants. I even took Canan to her home country of Turkey to get her blessed by the holy figures, but nothing we did was enough to beat ALS. We had to accept this disease as part of our lives, and had focused on doing our best to improve Canan’s quality of life.
I’ve mentioned earlier how extraordinary my wife was. Well, here is another story to prove that. After the ALS diagnosis, Canan lost her ability to speak, walk, and move in a very short time, but she never lost her essence, her strength, and her will to live. We continued her treatment at home and got her a state-of-the-art computer, which enabled her to communicate with us by moving her eyes. That was all she needed to keep spreading love and joy around her. She continued to be a loving wife and a mother. She always helped Arjun with his classes, planned every meal for our family, and continued to work for our business regardless of her physical condition. She even hosted Turkish dinners for Arjun’s teachers at home because she couldn’t go to parent-teachers conferences at school. She held onto life and lived 16 years with ALS while our doctors expected her to live three years. Her dream was to be with Arjun at his high school graduation. I couldn’t be happier to tell you that she succeeded. She was very keen to see Arjun as a businessman, as Arjun himself wanted to be since he was seven years old. Arjun graduated from Babson College, the No. 1 school for Entrepreneurship in the world. I am sure she is happy and smiling down at us when we purchased a chemical company earlier this year so I can teach Arjun business.
Canan was a fascinating woman in many ways. She was incredibly hardworking, unconditionally caring, strong, and kind. She was one in a million. And not just to me. Everyone around us deeply respected and loved her. After losing her in 2012, Arjun and I wanted to do something in her name, to make her legacy live forever. As she was a strong believer in women’s empowerment, we built a kilim-weaving workshop in Van, Turkey in her name through TPF. There are no words to describe how we felt at the opening of the workshop when we saw her name on that building, which enables young women to have a brighter future. Now, Canan’s legacy lives on in each kilim these young women make.