Mr. Ahmed was a fine gentleman, one of the old school who held open doors for 5 year old girls and kissed the hands of old ladies in greeting. He was also my friend’s father and a person whom I had known for the past 38 years.
Since January this year, he had some serious health issues and after he recovered, my friend Zoya, who lives and works abroad, decided to take both her parents back with her so that they could enjoy the change. She also thought that she’d be able to look after them better.
Zoya is the only child of her parents and even though she lived abroad, maintained a close relationship with them through daily phone calls, four home visits every year and their own annual holiday which lasted the whole summer at her home in Europe. Last week, her father passed away in what she described to me as the perfect way. He got up in the morning, said his prayers, had his breakfast and bath and then lay down for a mid-morning nap. When her mother went to wake him up for lunch, she found that he had had a stroke. Unfortunately, he never recovered from it. He breathed his last with the evening church bells, his soul released with the blessings of the Lord.
Being somewhat prepared for such an eventuality, Zoya was remarkably strong and with the help of her friends and neighbours, organized a beautiful ceremony at the local cemetery, one which was marked with love and dignity. As her last labour of love she prepared her father for his final journey and as they lowered him into the coffin, felt he was smiling mischievously at her. Returning home after the burial, Zoya felt a strange sense of peace and contentment that she had done right: she had let her father go with the grace and dignity, he had lived with all his life and that she had reciprocated the care and love with which he had showered her in equal measure.
Zoya is among the many children who look after their parents not merely out of sense of duty but also out of love. Alas! There are also many who do not. The minute the children leave the nest, they leave behind their “past” and completely lose themselves in their new lives. In city parks, old people’s homes or even family gatherings, there are those lost parents who wait longingly for their children’s calls, pine for their often grudging annual visits are told that love flows downwards and that while children are busy settling down in life, it is up to us, as parents to forgive them their lapses and wait patiently for them to turn their focus on us.
“Be grateful your child is happy,” the others console us,
“Be happy he is independent!”
When kids dismiss our care and anxiety
As paranoia and interference,
They ridicule our fears, our advices
“Just chill!” they always tell us.
“You must forgive them,” the others admonish us
“For love flows only downwards.”
But, I ask all those children who are too busy to think of their parents, does the love flow only downwards?
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood