Family, Gratitude, Life, Loss, People, Uncategorized

End of an era

My paternal patti, Andu patti as we called her, passed away yesterday afternoon. This week she would have turned 88 years old.

Some memories are more vivid than others. The early part of my childhood is rich with memories of my thatha and patti. As an infant, I grew up under their care in Bombay, which I don’t have a recollection of. My earliest memories of them are from when we were in Madras during my childhood years. I remember tagging along with patti wherever she went – visiting extended families, going on hospital visits, sleeping overnight in kalyana chathram, going to Bombay to visit my chithappa, and staying in my athai’s house. I remember the identical pedal pushers (I think that’s what it was called, a cross between capris and jumpsuit) she stitched for my cousin and me. I remember building parks and zoos while setting up golus. I remember her fascination for gymnastics and dance.

My grandparents went to the US for sometime to stay with my chithappa and family. I remember looking forward to letters from thatha and patti. I also remember the stories patti would narrate after her trip – the clean roads and the speed limits. She would write stories from I Love Lucy show in a notebook so she could narrate it to us. She learnt to make French braids from the shows she watched in the US and would practice it on me.

The year before I got married, Sathya and I stayed in my chithappa’s house with my grandparents, chithappa, chithi and cousins. My patti’s sari for my wedding matched with mine. I remember how deftly she would wash and dry her 9 yards sari. I remember the joy she would take in making and distributing bakshanam. She sewed her own blouse for the longest time. Making herself useful to others was very important to her. She was the eldest daughter in her family and the eldest daughter-in-law in the family she married into. She was the matriarch in our very patriarchal family. She has touched so many lives, in small ways and big.

The last few years of her life was very rough on her. She was resilient, bouncing back from hip surgery and several falls. If physically taking care of her was hard, seeing her deteriorate physically and mentally was several times more painful. She did her best to stretch her time here.

A shout out to my parents for taking care of my patti with dignity and to the best of their abilities. Their lives have revolved around patti for the past few years and for the past several months they cared for her like an infant, anticipating her needs and tending to her. Her life came to a full circle, right in front of our eyes.

Patti, we miss you. I feel fortunate to have had all that time with you and thatha. For all the love you showered on us. We love you in loads and will keep you in our hearts forever. Rest in peace.

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Loss, Wishes

Reflections and Wishes

“Breathe in. Breathe out,” I tell myself.  I feel heavy hearted as I recall the events from this year. I scroll back to the entries since the beginning of the year by way of reassuring myself that this year too has had its share of joyful events. And I am not disappointed. There is plenty to rejoice about. Life is kind that way, it tosses bouquets even when it throws brickbats.

My mil’s health setbacks and her subsequent passing away this year has undoubtedly dented our lives. And just like that this year marked the end of an era for the family. We miss amma at random times for random reasons. Sometimes we talk about it and at other times, we just sit tight, keeping a low profile, waiting for the feeling to pass.

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande is the book that has had an immense influence on me this year. Human body is a complex and sophisticated machine and like any other machine, it is bound to wear and tear with time.  The book made me think a lot about aging and mortality and humbled me.  We can’t live life fearing the worst. Nor should we live life as though we have unlimited time on earth. We should strive to live our fullest in the moments given to us, with the people around us.  

This year has been a milestone year in so many ways. Da and I celebrated our 15 years of togetherness. Hari started middle school and Ram began kindergarten.  We became US citizens and voted for the first time.

I took up a lot of volunteering projects this year – at school, at the local library, and in Sunday school, and realized that there is always so much to do. The more activities I engage in outside home, the more motivated I feel to come back to my home, to my people. I experimented with cooking quite a bit this year, and loved practicing eating right and eating clean. I jogged consistently for the first half of the year, shed some pounds and felt like I took responsibility for my health, I tried my hands on meditation and was awed by the power that mind has over the body. 

My heartfelt wishes to you and your family in the brand new year.  I wish you clarity amidst chaos, faith and hope in the face of panic, strength and belief to fight setbacks, focus when distractions rule, interests and passions that fill you, family and friends to love and cherish, a healthy body, a peaceful mind and a sound intellect. Lightness, cheer and merriment. Happy 2017.

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Experiences, Life, Loss, Uncategorized

This too shall pass

Today, a friend who had lost her husband this summer shared some of their pictures on Facebook by way of celebrating his birthday. The pictures and the words were achingly beautiful. 

I can’t imagine the weight of sorrow that the friend is carrying in her heart. I can’t imagine the loneliness that must engulf her as the story weaved in these pictures comes to a sudden halt.  I can’t imagine how non-negotiable the journey ahead is for her.

I know her enough to leave a message on the post but not enough to drop by her place to give a hug or be of comfort. But I believe in the healing power of intentions, wishes and prayers and I am sending lots of them her way today in the hope that they will make her day a tad lighter. I am thinking of her fondly, wishing her love, strength and peace to plod through life. I hope and pray that the pain that feels so raw today becomes bearable someday. I wish that on difficult days, there is something around the corner to lift her up. I want to remind her that the most remarkable thing about the human spirit is its resiliency. 

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Loss, Uncategorized, Us

Lunar love (Gratitude Journal – Day 13)

Did you take a glimpse of the moon tonight? Majestic, pure, simple, stunning, and tranquil. I could have sat there gazing at it all night tonight. My love for the moon is a cultivated one, not the instant kind. It all started when Da and I went on long walks at night during the first year of our married life. Da would comment on the beauty of the moon as we walked hand in hand. I remember being amused. Meaning I knew there was the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars but watching the night sky was not my thing. But several such walks later, Da’s liking for the moon rubbed on me as well. The awe makes sense to me now. There is a certain connectedness you share when you stare at a cosmic object at the same time. It’s humbling. It’s magical. It’s peaceful. 

Much thanks to Da for opening my eyes to the beauty of the full moon. It has brought many rich moments in my life. Not only do I revel in it,  but also drag the kids out to soak in its beauty. There is something comforting about that shared silence even if it lasts for only a few brief seconds.

This year we are learning about lunar calendar in Sunday school. We have been observing the waxing and waning of the moon in our moon journal.  We talked about the super moon today. As I went to leave things for trash pick up tomorrow, I looked at the gorgeous moon knowing that there will be few other fourth graders who may have made note of it as well. That thought brought a smile on my face.

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Experiences, Introspection, Life, Loss, Uncategorized

Resilience

The mind has been wandering in different directions for the past few days processing the passing away of someone we have known. Life for this family has changed overnight. The elder of the two children is Hari’s age. All was well, they had returned from a family vacation only a couple of weeks back, with no inkling of what was to come. One night they were catching up with their favorite TV show and the next morning there was no life left in him.

What a terrible reminder that not all human bodies are created equal, that human life is so fragile and brittle, that you never know. And yet, why is it that we find it so hard to keep our negative emotions in check? Why is it so hard to choose kindness at all times? Why do the details of our life consume us to the extent that we lose sight of the big picture ?

I visited my friend today. She is picking up the pieces, one day at a time. She managed to do a little something for her first born who turned a year older two days after his dad passed away. She is taking care of the practical aspects, the paper work, the business of living, prioritizing, getting help, figuring it out. It is a long road to healing but they have taken the first steps.

The human spirit may be flawed in so many ways, but gotta be in awe of its resilience!

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Loss, Uncategorized

Tribute

Today, life gave a knock on my head and sternly reminded me to not take it for granted. 

The culture co-ordinator of my sunday school emailed a bunch of us informing the passing away of a former teacher. A life gone too soon. Three years back she was a living, breathing, smiling, teaching, mentoring, parenting, working individual. She was a second grade teacher in Sunday school, who hand held me on several occasions. She was intelligent, knowledgeable, good natured, and was someone who cared a whole lot for what she did. She taught me a lesson or two on classroom management, and her values have inspired my teaching style immensely. I liked her a lot as a person and respected her even more.

Miss you very much Madhvi ji, my heart goes out to your very young kids. Thank you for mentoring, guiding and being there for me during the initial years.  You made me want to be a better teacher. May your soul rest in peace and may your family find peace.

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