Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grace for my Uncle

Saturday morning started off with sad news. My only surviving Maternal Uncle had passed away. It was the day after the Festival of Lights - and it brought back memories of a day 35 years ago. That too was the day after the Festival of Lights and about the same time that my father had passed away.

My uncle was a fun loving young at heart man all his life. All of us loved him dearly. Our children loved him just as much. He made every one he met feel special. He was genuinely interested in what each of us was doing, in our interests, in our family, in our city, in our relationships and in everything that made us feel important. I am not sure how he did it but he made everyone feel that their life was an amazing one. He never seemed old in his dealings with us even if he could not quite remember our birthday or when we last met. He invariably remembered what we had been passionate about the last time we had spent time together. Even in his eighties he put many of us to shame about everything and everyone he was in touch with.

Loving Chhoto Mama was easy. He was there if and when we needed and wanted him without ever interfering in our life. He was there to encourage us even when we were doubtful about things. He never hesitated to voice his opinions about things but he loved us even if we disagreed with him. He just made his displeasure clear and moved right on loving you. How can you not love someone like that? He was a good sport. If you wanted to party he was right there partying with you. Dinner, drinks, dance, games, jokes, stories - he participated in everything. We needed his advice on something and he would listen and put things in perspective - we came out clear headed and feeling like we had made a decision on our own. How can you not feel good being around someone like that?

It definitely helped that his life partner my dearest Aunt is such a warm and loving soul herself. She made it possible for him to continue being who he was. She was there by his side always - taking care of him, being his better half and loving us just as much. I hope we can be there for her as much as she has been there for all of us. She was a pillar of strength for me when my father passed away. Having her in the house and seeing her confident, smiling, caring, warm person there was my soft spot at eighteen. She has always had a very special spot in my heart and I smile everytime I think of her. I know she is there for me no matter what. I love her dearly.

As for my sisters - they mean the world to me. Both of them are chips of the same block. Loving, caring, warm and beautiful. I reach my hand out and there they are. I feel blessed to have them as sisters. I wish Mami, Bubu and Bonu the very best and know that Mama is looking down at us all with pride and joy no matter where we all are. He personified unconditional love and his soul will always be amongst us. Death must come for each of us - but it is a small moment and so I want to put death aside and truly celebrate Mama's life. I want to feel his soul, his love, his warmth and his magnanimity and I want to keep smiling. God graced us with this wonderful soul and I thank God for blessing us so.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

35 long years

Thirty five years ago today my father left his body and seemed to leave us behind. It was a very sad day for me. I was 18 and I had lost my guide, hero and best friend. It took me a while to acknowledge that because the first thought was not about my loss - it was more about relief. I write it right. I was relieved that I would no longer have to worry about my dearest father dying. His dying had been my worst nightmare for many years before the actual event. I am not sure now what I was really afraid of - if it was what the future would hold without him or if it was the moment of his passing. I still cannot put my finger on it but it did not take long for the fear to be overpowered by the grief. Thankfully though, the grief did not last too long as it was soon replaced by all the wonderful memories of some great little moments that I had the good fortune of having with my dearest Dad for the last ten years of his time with us.

Today I recognize that Dad left his body but has been with us all through these years and will continue to be with us for as long as we are and then some. The mark he left on my life has carried me through just as much as the mark left by my mother, my late sister, my brother, my spiritual teacher, my husband, my children, the rest of my family, friends and those who I have had the privilege of ever associating with. Each soul has touched mine and made an impact that has either taught me something, given me something, or added to my growth. The first person who I must acknowledge for all I do is definitely my dearest father. He was a simple man with a lot of depth. He did whatever he undertook with so much love and care that the result just had to be appreciated no matter what it appeared to be. I remember Dad making a large pot of guava jelly once and I am not quite sure what happened but instead of the clear jelly that should have been the final product it turned out to be murky. I felt so sad. He had put so much effort and care into the entire process. I refused to eat anything over my toast till that jelly was done a few weeks later! I do not remember the taste but I do remember Dad beaming every time he saw me eating the jelly. That was all that mattered to me.

Dad taught me that it was okay to be indifferent but never to be unkind. He had had a challenging childhood with a wicked step mother but never once did I hear him curse or be rude to or about her. He simply refused to talk about her with us. Clearly it was a very painful subject for him. Instead he talked to me about the love he was showered with by the rest of his extended family and his beloved cousins became family. They loved him just as much as he loved them and to this date I am so glad that they made up for all the pain that he had ever suffered.

My father was by no means a perfect man but he expressed his perfect soul through his kindness, love, assertiveness, disciplined life style, morality, honesty and integrity. He is my hero and will always be that. He is my best friend and nothing can ever change that. He is my guide and even today I judge a lot of what I do based on how Dad would have judged my actions. He has never ever let me down and am certain he is proud of his little girl.

I love you Baba and always will. The beautiful memories you have made for me keep me smiling. Thank you for being you and for being my wonderful Baba.