It has been a few months since my aunty’s 90th. A subject that keeps popping up lately but talking to a friend of mine today, who’s mum has now been diagnosed with Dementia the hardships she going through emotionally and physically made me ponder about this subject again. Years ago my son was involved in a play called the “Also a Mirror” by Sean Riley was based on residents from a Nursing Home primarily suffering from Dementia. When you come to know these residents, the recipients of this debilitating decease, you understand that each one of them have their own story. Each one of them a special character. Time to time that individual spunk pops out, refusing to give into the haze of confusion. But for the family and loved ones who have seen them as larger than life and now to see them belittled by such a blow is a hard pill to swallow.
My aunt had seven kids and she managed the whole show. My uncle was mostly at sea, he was in the merchant marine, a Chief Engineer. While he was away, she single handedly managed the house, the kids and the million guests who arrived daily from all parts of the country for short stays. She was a tough woman with a soft heart. Thanks to the power of nagging and care all her seven kids are now successful individuals. Who have now followed in the footsteps of my Grand Father and have gone forth and multiplied. I maybe corrected with my numbers, but I believe my aunt now has Twenty something Great Grand kids and counting.
My dad was the youngest of eight kids and the first to depart. My aunt loved him very much and missed him very much. This grand woman turned 90 in December and my cousin and his wife held a big party. Almost the entire clan was here from all nooks of the world.
I was out of ideas for a gift for a woman who had everything and didn’t need anything. Finally, I decided to write something for her. Sharing it today for my friend and anyone else who have to go through this with one of their favourites.
Mami – Baby Mami (mami is aunty) – that’s what I have always called you. I am your brother Rasam’s daughter Uma.
You look into my eyes and wonder who I am. It pains you not to remember.
You want to remember me but memories fail you. Don’t feel bad mami. You have lived a life – a whole life – filled with many faces and many hearts. So, it’s not easy to remember them all.
Memories have a habit of giving up on us time to time. When I was fifteen, I didn’t remember what I did when I was two. But you reminded me that my dad called me “Nari and nangal” (made pet names by my dad), you reminded me the drama he caused trying to name me. You reminded me that he loved me very much. And, you reminded me that you loved your brother and missed your brother just the way I did.
Even though you have retold the stories of my two year old days many a times, it is still buried memories for me. But I loved hearing those stories and for that I thank you.
Now that you are ninety, it’s my turn to jog your memories. I understand those memories aren’t going to rush back. It’s okay, for each of us, it is a tale that we enjoyed telling the other. We just needed each other to share and reminisce, that story. It’s not important that the other remembers that story or not.
So let me introduce myself –
I am your youngest brother – one of the twins – Rasam’s daughter – only daughter. My mum is Pathini. My dad passed away at the age of 53. He left a massive hole in all our hearts. You loved him very much and missed him very much. The only thing you could do was to love me and that you did. You did the same for my mum too. Thank you mami, for being there for us at our time of need.
You gave birth to seven beautiful children, and they loved us and supported us too. You brought them up well mami. You can be, one proud mother.
Now, I am married and have two boys. I married Customs Nada’s son Ganesh. He too has many memories of you and your family. Once again it’s another face that you may not remember but nonetheless another heart that you have touched.
So mami it’s not necessary for you to remember us all.
Just remember that you have loved many.
And you are loved by all.