Dear father-in-law, you left us for your final abode in May 2021. I never imagined that I would ever miss you when you won’t be no more in our lives. Progressive degenerative infarcts in your brain have trapped all of us …me, my mother-in-law and my husband into a complex web of unexpected responsibilities. This was different from taking care of elders. All my hygiene and cleanliness standards were washed away by your unusual ways to clear yourself. And not for days or months…..for years. My life was like an emotional roller coaster ride these years. My moral responsibility to take care of you was diluted many times to live youthful days with freedom. Guilt and negativities covered me. But, Buddhist philosophy taught me about the Debt of gratitude to parents. From then onwards, I tried my best to take care of you. And finally, getting infected with covid was meant to end your pain and sickness.
You had been suffering from dementia for more than twelve years. You were not able to recognize your family members for a few months. I feel you could identify faces but were not able to name them. The only thing you remember was …… eating. But you couldn’t differentiate non-eatables from eatables. You will eat whatever you feel like. You would search out cupboards, the kitchen, and the dining table to grab things. A lock was put on the kitchen still you were able to steal those happy moments when we forgot to lock it.
For the last few years, you had no idea what place to be used as a washroom. Every family member struggled hard in setting the equation
with those horrible days. You seemed to be helpless and non-cooperative. We tried to hire a helping hand. But had very bitter experiences. Many times you became violent and abusive with the hired person. Ultimately, your wife and son (my husband), were doing everything …… cleaning, bathing, washing clothes, giving you medicines, and feeding. I used to assist them or personally do in their absence. That ever-stinky feeling was disgusting but I have to own that.
Your wife used to begrudge her life at your situation. She has not expected life to turn this way. Genuinely speaking, she used to curse you. Dear papa, I used to be clueless and disoriented by your situation. We were living like this for about ten years…… who was more miserable? You or your family members? I don’t know. What I knew was that we had found a niche in those hellish days also. Many times, l used to think that I will never miss you if you pass away like this. Deep inside, we always care for you. I tried to generate a feeling of daughterly love for you. But I failed to do so. I preferred to replace it by taking better care of you. I considered it as a duty imposed on me. I was not going to miss you. Never….
I was wrong. You know how badly I miss you… You are alive in my memories forever. There was not a single day when I didn’t think about you.
In the morning, When I used to be busy preparing tiffins, breakfast, and lunch for all…. You used to stare at me in the kitchen …… that means you wanted to eat something. Many times, I got irritated with that busy schedule. I miss that interference…… Now there is no one in the living area demanding that extra sandwich. I miss your lively presence around.
I used to make you write your name and address in a notebook. You used to write tables, and solve simple sums and small words. Then you were forced to write and chant holy names….. Hare Krishna Hare Rama….. Om Namo Shiavay by me.This was my innovation to make your brain active. I still have those notebooks. I miss that time which I deliberately keep safe for you. I miss that stubborn child who didn’t want to write.
You were very fond of eating bananas. For me, eating bananas is memorizing you. This year, we went to see Raavan Dahan on Dusshera without you. On one such occasion, my husband hold you high in his arms so that you could see Rama –Raavan fight clearly. I miss that old child accompanying us on every occasion.
I always had guilt that I couldn’t do enough for you. Many times I used to contemplate how I could help you in a better way. I wanted to see you more comfortable. My efforts were never sufficient still I tried and tried. I miss that incomplete trial…… my short temper with you.
Nowadays, I miss you in gratitude. Gratitude for the wonderful home where I live. This was purchased and lovingly built by you. This is in the Shivalik foothills near Maa Mansa Devi Shrine. Truly, it is the good fortune of lifetimes to live in this peaceful area. I was not capable of owning a home like this. Thank you so much for allowing me to live in this prosperous home.
I miss you all the time. You are alive in my memories forever.