When Sohors Tan’s mother was still holding her inside her belly, she had a vivid dream that a farmer came to visit her home, telling her, “I’m coming to stay with you for a short while – I’ll leave when I’m wealthy.” On Thursday, September 13th, 2012 Sohors made good on this promise when she passed away from an infection brought about by complications caused by pancreatic cancer. Her time with us was much too short, and her presence in our lives has made us all so much richer.
Sohors means Thursday in the Khmer language; she was named after the day she was born. It also turned out to be the day she left this earth after 43 years. In Theravada Buddhism, we believe that once a person reaches nirvana, they break free from the cycle of recurring birth, aging, illness, and death; we believe Sohors reached this level of wisdom early in her life, and so has transitioned from this life and become an angel.
She came to this enlightenment through periods of intense sorrow and sacrifice. As the oldest of five children, she had the clearest memories of the brutal Khmer Rouge rise to power. She survived violence, sadness, starvation and the harrowing escape to America as refugee. Despite all the adversity, she was positive and always thankful for her family, and how against all odds, they were still together. They relied on one another to make it through each day, holding on long enough to eventually find themselves in wintery upstate New York. In Utica, her parents worked multiple jobs and asked her to be an active caretaker for her younger siblings and cousins.
To honor this hardship, she committed herself to living life with generosity – vowing to treat all people she met as family, listening to their stories and in turn, sharing herself the same way. She earned a master’s degree so her four younger siblings, and eventually her children and their children, would understand the importance of education. She honored her parents every day, treating her very life as evidence of the sacrifices they made to raise their children right.
She fell in love exactly once, and stayed in love with the same man. In her husband Sokunroath, she found not just the love of a lifetime, not just a father to her children, but her perfect compliment. Their romance was found in their balance: she was ice when he was fire; he was energy when she was caution. They could stand back to back and face the world together. They could stand face to face and see nothing but each other.
They dedicated their days and nights to their four children, as they made their way to and through schools, supporting them together to grow into the best they can one day be. In them, her traits live on: her authenticity and honesty, sensitivity and caring, her ability to find joy each day.
When the family invested in The Elephant Trail in Avon, Sohors put her career in insurance behind her and became the public face of the business, and by extension, of her entire family. With Sohors in charge of the operation, the business expanded to a second location, The Blue Elephant Trail in West Hartford, guided by her belief that every customer walking through the door had a story to tell, and that she wanted to hear all of them.
Sohors was all things to all people: doting mother, devoted wife, dutiful daughter, supportive sister, caring boss, role model, business leader, cultural liaison, friend. And now angel.
There is an unwritten rule in cultures around the world not to speak ill of the departed; we should remember their best qualities and forgive them for the times they hurt or offended us. This rule is unnecessary for Sohors, because she took care never to hurt or offend anyone; she treated every person she encountered the same way: with love and an honest and open heart.
She is survived by her husband Sokunroath Tan, and four children Mongkul-aphiwatt Tyler Tan (12), Mealear Katiana Tan (10), Morodoc Preston Tan (8), and Monakateque Kameron Tan (5); her parents Chheang Srun Tek and Youeng Pak Tek; her parents-in-law Sichan Tan and Soth Peou; her sister Sochan Pho and her husband Chantheoun Pho; her brothers Sodeth Tek and Soden Tek; her sister Sopheak Tek and her husband Giles Li; her sister-in-law Sophina Alhasaan and her husband Vaheed Alhasaan; her sister-in-law Rasmey Singh and her husband Vikram Singh; her sister-in-law Ratha Tan and her husband Vashura Tan; her sister-in-law Sophear and her husband Peter Soontharothai; her brother-in-law Sovannarith Tan. She also leaves behind her uncle Hor San and his wife Sangam Ing, her uncle Thay-Seng Pak and his wife Satia Thach, and her aunt Youtheng Pak and her husband Savath Phai, as well as many loving cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends.
The wake will be held Friday, September 21st from 6pm-9pm at Ahern Funeral Home, 180 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT; the ceremony will take place at the same location on the following day, Saturday, September 22nd at 9am.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to a college fund established for the benefit of her children. Please make checks payable to Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) and in the memo line, write “Account #4690930, Tan Family.”