Wednesday, May 18, 2005

God's Gallipoli



When the phone rang at 5:30 this morning I knew it couldn't be good news. It was J letting me know that my uncle, dad's oldest brother, had passed away. My parents are in Florida for the week. My mom is at a conference and my dad tagged along. My father retired late last year and has spent most of this new phase of his life in India. In India he passes the time attending to all the details of the new house. In India he has relatives to see and friends to catch up with. In India, my dad doesn't have enough hours in the day. In America, my dad doesn't know what to do with himself. My mom works 4 days a week and during those days my dad busies himself with innate chores. He cooks as if armies are going to be visiting their house. He pulls the weeds in the front yard as soon as they appear. He sends my sister J on a million errands spread over the course of the day. "J Mol can you go and get me an onion and 2 grapes?" 2 hours later it will be "J Mol can you take the car to get the oil changes, and by the way I need 4 carrots and 2 bananas". According to J, the errands are both random and erratic. Poor dad. He just wants to feel useful.

Speaking of erratic, my uncle who passed away had been acting strange for the past year. His wife, who was the emotional leader of the family, had a stroke about 18 months ago leaving her with partial paralysis. My uncle suddenly became very demanding and almost mean. (Lord forgive me for speaking ill of the dead). The emotional toll of my aunt's stroke was almost too much for him to bare. He became angry when people weren't around. I think he was scared and probably a bit lonely. His behavior caused an invisible rift between he and my dad. Two days before my dad was due to fly back to America, my uncle was hospitalized with chest pains and tests showed he suffered a minor heart attack. He would have to watch what he ate but was more or less fine. My dad went to go see him in the hospital and uncle was angry that my dad was still planning on leaving. My cousin (his oldest daughter) was due to visit Chicago on the way to see her husband who works in South America. She canceled the trip knowing that my uncle would never forgive her for leaving him "alone". I can imagine that my dad feels guilt for leaving on less than ideal terms. Ever since my mom's battle with cancer, I have perfected the art of "learn to let go". My mom's illness was hard. I quickly had to become an expert on saline sacks, early detections, chemo cycles, etc. The chemo which was supposed to save her life nearly killed her. I'll never forget the call from my dad t telling me that my mom's blood pressure had dropped to 60/50 in the emergency room. I camped out in her hospital room for the next 3 days, ignoring my dad's protests because I was 3 months pregnant. J was away at school and my older sister (M) refused to come to the hospital because she and mom had an argument the week before and she was holding a grudge. In my head, I forgave M for not being there although a part of me will never forget having to go through those 3 days alone being the primary, emotional provider for both my mom and dad.

Anyway, the last thing I'll remember of my uncle will be how he balled his eyes out when I left India in 1991. He pinched my cheeks really hard as if I were 6 years old again and told me in Malyalam that he'll see see me later. Good-bye Appachan.

6 Comments:

Blogger KM says...

Oh. I'm sorry.

Wed May 18, 12:31:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Vishnupriya says...

youre really lucky to have learnt to let go. it saves you from so much trauma. even now i overreact when small things happen to people i know because theres a constant fear that this will be the last time, and ill regret not being there this one time, even if its the only time.

Wed May 18, 05:38:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Mandar says...

hi! have been visiting your blog very regularly. u write well.
i think its very very important that we learn how to "let go". and, let's face it, no matter who dies and what terrible thing happens, life just moves on and so does the world. i don't wanna sound like a heartless brute. but, i guess thats the truth.

Thu May 19, 03:18:00 AM CDT  
Blogger vAgue says...

sorry, mint...

Sun May 22, 11:48:00 AM CDT  
Blogger anumita says...

I am sorry.
That's a whole lot of emotions spread out here and aren't you glad you have experienced them all and gone through them all. Life is all about that...

Mon May 23, 03:22:00 AM CDT  
Blogger GettingThere says...

I am sorry, Mint. May you stay as strong - always. Haven't been blogging for quite some time now and missed a few posts of yours. Read this one just today...

Wed May 25, 07:51:00 AM CDT  

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