I dedicate this post to my brother, Mukund and his wife Latha, my mother’s siblings -Dr. Mohan, Viji, Chandra and Naga and their families- my cohorts on the journey where we witnessed a beautiful legacy unfold.
The past few years have been difficult for my family as we’ve watched my mother battle a series of illnesses. She has undergone a double angioplasty, fought pneumonia, been under the knife twice-first for a mastectomy and the second time for the removal of a goiter and very recently had been hospitalized for a stroke. Terrifying for any person to face such grave situations in a short span of time yet remarkable as she is, she has emerged each time stronger in spirit, greater faith in the Almighty. As a helpless bystander I have often questioned Him “Why her?” Why test the spirit of a person so lovely, so dear time and time again? He has only replied by bestowing His grace upon our family. Even though her path has been thorny and fiery, it’s almost as if He has enveloped her and us in His wings to shield us from the thorns and fire.
Each time the onset has been sudden, diagnosis serious, prognosis grim yet the outcome miraculous. One day she complained of a little breathlessness while walking my daughter to school and by the next day she was in the ER undergoing an angioplasty with 99% blockage in her arteries. It happened so fast that the whole thing is a blur in my mind. I do remember though that the team of doctors who attended to her was fantastic and that has been the case every time. A true blessing. With the cancer, a very tiny bump on the skin that she intuitively got checked out resulted in a biopsy a day later which revealed a very aggressive kind of cancer that could ravage her body in a matter of days. Within a week of her discovery of the bump she had undergone a mastectomy. Each time she was wheeled into the OR the doctors have told us to be prepared for the worst yet each time the doctor or surgeon who attended to her has remarked on how smooth the surgeries have been and how lucky she has been to have been brought in at the right moment. Last week she was at a function and suddenly collapsed. Luckily there was a doctor present at the function who immediately advised dad and my brother to rush her to the ER and since she was treated within the golden hour of the stroke, the damage was reversible. A few years ago Mom was travelling when she had the pneumonia but she was fortunate to have her dear sister and a wonderful niece, a doctor, by her side who worked tirelessly to nurse her back to health. Somewhere in the midst of all this she had to undergo an unnerving four-hour surgery to remove a goiter and in another instance be hospitalized when painkillers administered to her after a freak fall, wreaked havoc on her body.
So much for a person to go through- I tire just thinking about it yet I can safely say this feisty woman’s joyful spirit has only blossomed. Her recovery has always been speedy and to the amazement of everyone around she has easily bounced back to her cheerful self. It is true that her unwavering faith in the Supreme has helped her tide through the turbulences. At every step He too has reciprocated by having sent his angels who have worked their miracles through the hands of the surgeon and all her near ones have sensed this grace that has made sure that the tornado at the doorstep safely alters course.
Yet my brother and I know, it is not just Faith that has bestowed the fighting spirit in her. A big part of her healing has been the love my Dad and she share as also the strong bond that exists between her and her siblings. My aunts and uncle have been our pillars of strength. Like the iron beams that hold up the structure of a house, they have helped us hold our positivity throughout.
Dad’s quiet, stoic presence beside my mom has been the balm that soothes her pain. He has accompanied her on every twist, every turn, every sudden jerk and every loop of the scary ride by gently holding her hand and not letting go. Soft spoken and always a man of few words my dad has never really showered my mom or us with bountiful displays of affection. He never brought home flowers or bought her diamonds. We just knew he loved her deeply. After all love is just a vibration that all our hearts sense. No grandiose exaggerated display of affection will touch your heart if it isn’t authentic. In Dad’s case, just his gentle presence was enough because his genuine love gave us the moral support we all so much need. Dad never tires when he has to help or take care of others. As far as I can remember I know his only prayer to the Lord has been the St. Francis hymn “Make me a channel of your peace” and that being his purpose he does cherish every opportunity to be of service to people.
Growing up, my brother and I did give my parents countless sleepless nights like all children do but Daddy never yelled or never used power the way most parents do by saying “Because I am your father and because I said so.” He won me over with his loving kindness. Daddy earned my everlasting respect by not demanding it.
They say when we are still souls in heaven, we choose our parents and our closest family to teach us valuable life lessons when we incarnate on this planet as earthly beings. Looking back, I cannot help but wonder what a wise choice I made. Because my mother and my father, my uncles and aunts-my angels on earth, have by living the lives the way they have, taught me the profound truth that Grace abounds where there is Faith and Love, that love has the power to make ordinary lives extraordinary. This is the legacy they have given us and one that I want to pass on to my cubs. For if I haven’t taught my cubs to live in love and faith then I haven’t taught them at all. After all no inheritance of material value can outweigh the lessons on how to live life to the fullest.