Satish C. Bhatnagar : During my long three-month trip to India, I was so much on the move to far-flung places and often amidst different people that even some impactful experiences were ‘buried alive’ before I could memorialize them in my reflections. Yes, this metaphor is not inept. Moreover, whatever maybe one’s notion of reincarnation, at least, by the Newton’s Third Law of Motion, anything ‘buried alive’ would eventually ‘surface up’ on the mantle of consciousness.
Well, these thoughts converged upon my mind as I was sipping my afternoon black coffee with my favorite candy bar outside my office while sitting on a concrete bench under a tree. During my transits through Delhi, I stayed with close family friends for four days. The family is a retired couple and their 90-year old mother/mother-in-law – known to me for nearly thirty years. Staying with them is always delightful for their hospitality and uplifting for their home environment. It is truly uplifting when you see an aged parent living in home with full dignity, respect and engagement – a rare sight in today’s fast and furious, and Me-Me lifestyles.
This morning, I got a call that BG (address for a respectable lady), as I addressed her, had died. Naturally, my mind re-winded the mental tape of my sporadic association with her. If there is one word to describe BG’s personality, then it is her sense of humor. One has to have a good memory for keeping a sense of humor. What BG did was to use her sense of humor to keep her memory functional- reverse of the traditional thinking!
The phrase ‘the old person is losing his/her mind’ is nowhere more evident than in places where the elderlies are confined in a place in the name of memory care or assisted living. Both body and mind start atrophying when there is no emotional interaction every day. Thus, unemotional care is inimical to the overall well being of an old person. However, it is a paradox of materialistic lifestyles.
This couple, now in their 60s, is unique too. They did not have their own biological children, but raised and supported the kids of their kith and kins. This generosity is a part of the values that each one of them inherited from their respective elders, whom I knew partly. In today’s society whether in the US or in metro India, caring of the elders is a growing societal problem – financial, emotional, social, and political.
In societies, where lifestyle is active, the last phase of dependency is very short. On a personal note, both of my parents, and only one grandparent that I knew died ‘walking’ – meaning no dependence on others. The sedentary lifestyles prolong the red zone of life. Consequently, various kinds of assisted living are called into play. It is simply- you reap what you sow; or at the end, you have it what you run after.
On my departure day from Delhi on June 11, 2018, I had a couple of pictures taken with her. I had a premonition that this was going to be our Last Meeting. BG is Gone, but her blessings on all those who came into her contact will continue to bring joy in their lives. She always had a dignified smile on her face. Thanks for the memories, BG!!