The joy that normally heralds the arrival of Spring for me rapidly diminished. The sunshiny promise of Saturday was robbed when Mom had an Angina attack. She was weak and collapsed in my arms, I prayed fervently when I noticed the change in her eyes. No hospital for her, I thought, not like my father wheeled aside to be left to die. If she died, I said, it would be in my arms.
Life though for me, has changed unalterably. The goalposts always shifted for me with the changing times, now there has been a shift in the very foundation of my life, nothing will ever be as before. As a daughter, I am now mother to my mother. Where my mother strode confidently ahead, her mind abuzz with plans for us, I am thinking ahead, planning the day from sunrise to sunset, from her chores, to her meals, even the little bouts exercise. Lunch is made and the timetables for medication to be adhered to religiously. The tables have turned, I turn back to watch her and see her, walking that much slower, that much quieter and I pray quietly that she is always there, spiritually foremost in my mind and very much there in all other ways. One fine morning whilst donning my professional face, I said something to her, once, then twice. The third time, it hit me… she did not hear me… Her hearing too, seemed impaired.
Touched by an Angel and blessed by God I am, to have Mom. Every weekday morning without fail, Mom arrives with a smile, ready to care for my two little ones. She waves them off to primary school, reminding them to mind the cars and hold hands. Back home they come, to hugs and home food, ice cream and cola on hot days. Afternoons are spent dissecting the day’s events, priority given to both as they discuss the merits of dance and preparation for the graduation, winks and nudges to my pre-school son who bashfully anticipates his first dance with a girl! My husband arrives home to content children, tempting curry and the best home made roti, made as only my Mom does. On a “bad” day, when all six cousins of similar ages are present, the presence of the unused mango tree “stick” on the table reveals a wealth of information. The threat of punishment rules! Yet Mom’s smile is still there in place, her inner strength unwavering, when I arrive home. The tea I brew for us both is much appreciated as she unwinds with Salem’s John, Marlena and the Days of Our Lives cast.
Come the weekend, Mom’s days off, my son awakens and calls out for his Granny, his first word for the day. There is no jealousy, no anger as his parents go to him instead. It is fitting indeed that Granny is sought after. After all, she has been there through trial and error, thick and thin. Bed times tales are stories of our lives re-played with humour to our little ones. There are raised eyebrows at the firm discipline meted out to us, unbelieving eyes about hand-me-downs, and one toy to share between three siblings. The long trek to school in scorching and blistering weather without Disney character protective outerwear or other name-brand garments is drawn out and digested, the basic Rama margarine/brown bread combo and tea grimaced at. Throughout those years though, irrespective of the trying circumstances, we were looked after as Mom was both Mom and Dad and Mom back home too. The luxury of being a home executive was denied and us siblings, left with firm, trusting dictates to behave ourselves. It is now my turn to work and Mom is Granny and Mom to my children as the working pattern is repeated. Blessed to have the best care for my children, I am happy to work, content in the knowledge that their safety and tender years, the foundation their lives are respectfully balanced with culture, religion and touched with love. After all, Mom knows best.
As a mother myself, the moments with my own children, my nieces and nephews are magnified in their importance. Every smile, every cut, scrape or bruise is kissed, the love is flowing and the hugs are plentiful. The children have sensed it too.
It is a boon to have the home graced with an elder, a relief too, someone to defer to, another more worthy opinion on hand. The extended family lifestyle has more benefits, a story teller of note, a comforting lap, an ever-ready babysitter and a genuine healing hand. Memories of long forgotten healing herb remedies re-surface, administered by gentle hands, later marvelled at its healing prowess, forgotten in this commercial age teeming with quick-fixes and immediate prescriptions.
Having an elder now in the house has taken on new depths of joy, love, respect and understanding. No matter my day, I dare not berate the children harshly, the discipline is gentler, firmer but definitely present. Everything though is underscored with love and the reprimand that I know will be forthcoming from my elder, children as God’s gifts to us – parents acting as Angels. God’s guardian for us.
Most importantly, the children have learned to live with and love the grandparents and the birth of a dying tradition has taken root. Often the gems of society, the fountains of knowledge, the epitome of love and goodness, are cast aside. Not so my mother.
Despite failing health, I want Mom to retain her respect and dignity through her life’s journey knowing that she will pass this way but once. It is not a burden. It is love, honour, sacrifice committed to us by her life’s dedication to her children. My Mom has come full circle. Her daughter too will ride the waves of life hoping to be nearly as good as her Mother was.
It is a boon to have the home graced with an elder, a relief too, someone to differ to, another more worthy opinion on hand. Touched by an Angel and blessed by God I am, to have Mom.