Thursday, May 07, 2009

Growing up, growing old and things in between

A few weeks ago C, my 9 year-old, wrote in his weekend journal that his grandfather was not his usual self, not being able to go on long walks with him or talk to him for hours on end. "It's all right," he wrote. "He is growing old after all."

For a couple of months before we were able to go to India to visit with my parents, C had known that my father was not keeping well. So when we finally got there C was prepared to see him in bed, tired. For two people who revelled in each other's voices and words, whose days were planned around myriad activities undertaken together, the comfort came this time by just being in each other's presence, some times in the same room, at other times being in the same house was comfort enough.

I fully expected C's adjustment to his grandfather's newly muted abilities to be less smooth and less understanding than it actually was. I know I had a difficult time processing my father's weakness and his passage from a strong, active man to an exhausted soul. Test after test, hospital visit after hospital visit had taken their toll on him physically and emotionally. My father had always been strong. The only time I remember him crying as long as I lived with him was when his oldest brother passed away when I was about five or six and when I had to be hospitalized for some minor illness when I was about thirteen. He was always a no-nonsense person, never shrinking from having to face anything, although in recent years, he has been quicker to show his emotions.

So there I was, worried about what C would be feeling, prepared to hold him up, to tell him that his grandfather would bounce back, to tell him not to worry, that he would be back to his old self in short order, and not at all prepared to have to cajole and berate my father into agreeing to just that one more test and one more doctor's visit and to that one more morsel of food or to just smile a little bit more. I did not have to do any of the former and had to do all of the latter.

C's birthday was coming up a few days after we were to leave India to come back home, but "let's not have a birthday party this year," he said. It has been three weeks since we got back and whenever C's been around when I talk to my husband about my father or talk to my brother or mother about how my dad is doing (with the inevitable tearing up), C quietly sidles in, listens and is there to give me a hug and say, "I love you, Mom" at the end.

I am a mother and a daughter. But the roles, at least with respect to this one aspect in our lives at this time, seem to have undergone a subtle shift.

P.S. Thank you for your comments and your e-mails. My father is doing much better now and the doctors have given him a good prognosis.

21 comments:

DotThoughts said...

So sorry to hear about your father's health. Gald he is doing better now!

Pete said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sylvia K said...

This is such a beautiful post and so touching! It is amazing how there are times when we trade places with our children. I'm so glad your father is doing better and will continue to hold good thoughts for you all.

ugich konitari said...

Sujatha,

I hope and pray that your father gets well very soon. My late m-in-law used to say that grandchildren are the best "tonic" .

The tonic has just been to see his grandpa, and so I am sure he will fine ....

Those little arms have so much strength.... and these chaps, 9 going on 15 suddenly assume responsibility.

(Maybe its a characteristic of children, in particular, first borns, who have had active interaction with grandparents .....sometimes I find these type of kids are extremely comfortable with people their grandparents' ages, and even converse like mature people. (My son used to do that )....)

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Beautiful...and foreshadows the shift in your relationship many years from now! Your son is a wonderful young man! You obviously are an extraordinary mom! Have a great weekend! ~Janine XO

Kavi said...

Wonderful post that clearly brings out the wonders of the relationship between generations !

And so touching too.

Children usually bring the greatest joy to ageing. And many a time, the impact thats left behind of children lasts more than a life time !

Sumana said...

Wonderful post Sujatha. I had tears in my eyes when i read, and can understand each bit and part of your post. Kids i tell you can be more mature then we adults.

Sujatha said...

I'm glad to hear that your father is doing better and hope that the improvement continues rapidly.

sujata said...

This is a great post. Your emotions can be felt in each word. Thank God for great parents and Thank God for such lovely kids!! I am happy to learn that your Dad is doing well now.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear your father isn't well - and glad that the prognosis is good! C sounds like an amazingly empathetic boy.

M

Frankie Anon said...

Sujatha, I'm glad to hear your father is better. It's clear that you have such a loving family and that you are passing this on to your children. You are truly blessed.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful read, Sujatha! Its so great that your son shares this special bond with his grandpa and he is able to relate to your feelings so well.. I surely hope my boys feel the same way one day:)

-Mallika

Minal said...

Sujatha,
Will pray for your father's health to get better.
The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is special, it will always be! Bless little C:-)

mschillpill said...

This is such a touching post, Sujatha. Glad to hear your father is doing better now.

Debbie said...

You must be a wonderful mother to be raising such a caring, loving child.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Lovely post. I understand the difficulty all too well. My boys now struggle with Grandpa not being who they know so well. But they still love him so. I'm thankful they know him.

You, being so far away, must be even more difficult. I understand.

Jawahara said...

This one made me tear up. So beautiful. Hope your dad gets better soon. And that C, remains the same.

Nino's Mum said...

damn, Suj, I missed so much. C's sentivity to your pain is so touching. Hope your dad's gets better soon. big hug to you.

Sujatha said...

@ Dottie, thank you.

@ Sylvia, thank you. We need all the good vibes we can get. The part of us trading places with our children is so new to me. This is phase of life I'm so looking forward to.

@ Ugich, thank you for your wishes. I agree with you about first borns. I've noticed that about C.

@ Janine, I've noticed this about your relationship with your son as well - the shift has already occured in your family. It gives me hope! :)

@ Sumana and Kavi, thank you for your sweet words.

@ Sujatha and sujata (!), Frankie, Mallika and M, MsChillpill and Debbie, thank you too for your wishes and for your lovely comments.

@ Minal, thank you for your prayers.

@ Julie, thank you! Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. I'm so grateful for your experience.

@ Jawahara, thank you. I hope so too.

@ Nino's Mum, thank you.

Vandana Sarah said...

This is such a beautiful post. I stumbled upon your blog and have spent the last few hours reading your posts. Its amazing how C is so sensitive, my older one is the same way... Hope your father continues feeling better.

Sujatha said...

Vandana, welcome to my blog! Thank you for reading the posts and for this lovely comment and the wishes. :)

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