Though both my parents are not exactly ‘tech-savvy’ (in all fairness to my dad, he actually is in some aspects but mum TOTALLY isn’t….well, she did learn to sms/text and take photo’s on her cell, LOL) and they might not get to read this post unless one of us, siblings are there to go online and SHOW it to them. Nevertheless, it is an important day for the family so it definitely had to be blogged about.
Today marks their 28th anniversary. It’s going to sound utterly ‘mushy’ and all ‘sappy’ but give me a break! These are my parents guys! And I have wonderful parents who have raised us and taught us with love and truth, wisdom and patience. I remember my brother and I once had a conversation quite a few years back. We were talking about ‘Ma & Pa’ (that’s what they’ve eternally been called). We were both agreeing that we’ve got incredible parents and then my brother said something which has always stayed with me – he said that whatever is good in us as kids, it’s because of how Ma & Pa raised us and when he has children one day, he would like to raise them the same way. I don’t know since I’m not a parent yet but even as an older sister, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than that as an anniversary gift to our parents.
What my brother said is so true. Family is not always easy and we do have our shares of up’s and down’s but we owe so much to the level-headedness of our parents and their faith which has kept us together and going for so long. My mother is an extraordinary woman (as all mothers tend to be). I grew up wanting to be like her; full of grace and elegance, firm yet never rude or bossy and always, always trying hard to be better. Though she’s soft-spoken and gentle, for some reason no one seemed to push her around and you could never imagine she was one to be pushed around so easily. It’s that quiet confidence, that ‘air of no-nonsense’, of knowing who she is and her value and worth that has been something I’ve always wanted for myself as well. She is the more expressive one and so we’ve all grown up having had long, long chats with our mum. She’s always been there with a word of warning to straighten up and work hard, followed by words of encouragement and love. Lol. She’s always been affectionate and warm and I cannot remember a time when we were not hugging her, or holding on to her or just following her wherever she went.
Have you ever had that experience when ‘the Mum’ is down that all hell seems to break loose?! Well, we have definitely been through that. It would happen anytime she was sick and in bed (which happened rarely and most of the time she seemed to jump right back out of bed). My father would feel a little overwhelmed and worried for her and the family and though none of us kids wanted to say it (because we would all try to act tough and independent), we also felt equally, if not more, bewildered and lost than our dad. The funny, if not saddest part was that our dad was also ‘bluffing’ like us! Telling us with no apparent worry or concern on his face that Ma was fine and she’d be up in no time and yet, quietly going to her side and praying for her to get well FAST. LOL!
Speaking of following around, we spent a good amount of time with her in the kitchen (sadly, her culinary skills have not passed down to all of us…I feel my two younger sisters might have it, am still trying). She’s an excellent cook! Man, she could cook up a storm and that too over different continents as she whipped out dishes from around the world! My mum often says that being a housewife is the toughest job in the world and I have to so totally agree o_0 (I cannot even begin to imagine doing even a tenth of what she does). She has said that she’s a master chef, a cleaner, a dhobi (clothes washer), a private chauffeur, a psychologist and psychiatrist, a seamstress, a gardener, a ‘social butterfly’, an interior designer, a grocer, an economist all rolled into one! I added economist because it’s usually the mothers and wives who have to handle the daily household expenditure and learn the most basic economics to keep the family going (something I learnt from my English teacher, Ms. Noreen Dunne). I also wanted to add UN peacekeeper and diplomat because we all know how important a mother’s role is in the family in maintaining peace which includes her role as a daughter-in-law and wife. When I look at it like that, our mum is right up there with the best of them! Lol.
She is our center of gravity and without her we would all be weak and floundering somewhere. But I and my siblings, would like her to know that it’s not just because of all the excellent things she does but because of who she is – her personality, her heart and her nature – that we, as her children, are profoundly blessed and grateful to have her as our mother. We want to thank God everyday for our mother and to tell her as often as we can that we love her immensely!
But our family isn’t complete without our father and we have quite a father to match our mum! Lol. My dad is a force of life and energy, even my mum says he’s charming and friendly and because of that people have always gravitated towards him. I can believe that. I’ve grown up noticing how people respond to our dad. I’ll admit, sometimes I would not get his jokes, his mannerisms or the ‘audacity’ he had to ask and do certain things. But as I get older, I realize it’s his fearlessness and his drive to succeed and make a better life for himself and his family that people recognize and respect. As a worker, he was hardworking, determined and persistent. As a boss, he was demanding of professionalism and perfection but always led by example and never forgot to remain ‘human’. He led by example. Two memories of his work ethics stand out. The first one was when I was quite young, maybe Class/Grade 5 or 6 and I had gone to his office after being picked up from school so that we could head home together. I happen to get there right when he was in the middle of scolding/shouting at one of his staff. I was a little miss-know-it-all and righteousness-be-thine-guide type of kid so naturally, I argued with my dad in front of his staff. *loud gasp* Shock, Horror! Yes, yes, I was that audacious too. Lol. We exchanged words, the staff member left the office and everything was quiet. Long silence. Till my dad decided to speak first (and this is one of his greatest, greatest traits). He calmly explained that the man he had scolded had not done the work assigned to him for well over a week and was slacking off despite having been given so many breaks. It was because of sheer laziness that the work was not getting done and that was unacceptable in my dad’s eyes, especially since he didn’t hound him for the work. I felt sheepish and stupid and apologized to my dad and we went home after that. The second memory was just something he told me about huge projects or work that needed to be done in the office. He had a work ethic that went something like, if the staff need to put in an all-nighter to get the work done, then no arguments everyone would do so. Including my father who would stay till the last man left for home. That was something pretty big for me to hear and I felt immense pride swelling up from that place where immense pride swells up from. Lol. I love my father very much but it was from those two incidents that I learnt to respect and value what he had to say and yes, even his ‘audacious’ requests.
My father is also the generous one in the family and pretty understanding when it comes to crushes etc. My mum isn’t. She swings more to the conservative side :p The best example was when a girl liked my brother when they were in Class/Grade 5 or 6 and she stood outside our house gate with her friends, calling him out. LOL!!! That was one gutsy girl and I have to say that I admired her confidence. It was such a simple thing but it led to a mini-argument between my parents because of how they wanted to handle it. It went something like this:
Mum: How can they just come to a person’s gate like that? Don’t they feel even a little embarrassed and what about us as parents?! Didn’t they bother about how we would feel? Tell them to go home right now! Otherwise, I’ll go out there and give them a piece of my mind.
Dad: Who is this girl? we kids explaining that she’s the one with a crush on our brother… Oh! Really? She likes him? Here’s some money, quick! Take her down to the mall, buy her some flowers or chocolates or BOTH and have a good time!
LOL! Yah, Pa is pretty cool that way :p
He’s also the most understanding and forgiving. I remember when I was not allowed to board my flight because of overweight luggage. I had offered to pay half in Delhi and half at the counter when I got home. I offered my luggage as collateral and anything else on me but no dice. I was almost in tears from sheer anger at the airline staff and from guilt at how I was going to break this to my parents. Sure enough, they could not understand how in the world I could have underestimated the weight of my luggage and basically it was about how negligent I had been. I felt so bad and I knew I was at fault but I had a hard time swallowing my pride. As I sat in the auto, feeling miserable and alone my dad called me back and all he said was this – don’t worry about the money, don’t worry about missing your flight, life has it’s up’s and down’s and we have to learn the hard way….you’re like me, you’ll have your up’s and down’s and you’ll learn the hard way but don’t worry about it. I couldn’t believe it. Just like that, I was forgiven and more than that, my dad understood.
This wasn’t the first time he demonstrated so much compassion and understanding. When I was in college, I had been in an accident due to my stupidity and I still have the scar to remind me. It happened the day before his 60th birthday and I have never missed any of my family member’s birthdays so, naturally my father was expecting my call. But sadly, I was all bandaged up and completely passed out from painkillers, lying in some small, dark clinic regretting everything that had happened and being completely helpless to do anything about it. When my friends finally managed to get me my cellphone, I was faced with a really tough decision: to come clean and tell my parents what happened or just keep it hidden and tell them some other time. I came clean and told them. Naturally, it didn’t go down well and I got a lot of shocked disbelief and disappointment from them. My dad called up again after the first call didn’t go down so well. All he said was this – don’t worry, by God’s grace and His grace alone you’ve been saved and my daughter that could have died has lived. When we finally hung up, that’s when I cried…strangely, I hadn’t cried at all during the whole time I was in hospital (injections, stitches, cleaning, accusatory gazes, gossipy tongues). But when my father spoke to me like that, that’s when I broke down and sobbed quietly under my blanket. I asked God why I had lived as the guilt overwhelmed me and in that sobbing I kind of got my answer. First off, it seems it just wasn’t my time and secondly, I was spared because of my family. My father and mother saved me because they’ve always covered their children in prayer and I guess, God decided that He wasn’t quite done with me yet.
If our mother is our center of gravity then our father is our rock and head. Our center of gravity is so important to us for our balance and our rock keeps us firmly anchored down when all the ‘s*** hits the fan’ (pardon my French). But that’s the best way to describe it and describe them. I am coming to a newer and deeper understanding and appreciation for our Ma & Pa. It’s now that time of their lives when the children they so lovingly raised are starting to play a more active role in taking care of THEM. God bless you, Ma & Pa with so many more wonderful years ahead. May He see that your hearts truly love Him and belong to Him and may His blessings pour down on you. Thank you so much for being our parents and I hope as your children we make you happy and proud. Lots of love!!!!
It struck me just a few days back how even at this wonderfully ripe age of 20-something, when you’re talking to your parents and hear them sounding so ‘human’, that that is still enough to shake you to your core. Human here means discussing their worries or concerns, including you in the family financial assessment, future of the family, future of your siblings, doubts, fears, concerns etc. etc. It’s only then that you realize how much you’ve taken your parents for granted all these years. How long have they hid their real fears and concerns from you? How, in their own ways, have they tried to keep their problems as secondary in priority to the family’s well-being?
This reminds me of that other major ‘revelation’ you get early in life. That ‘light bulb’ moment when as a kid you realize your parents are not always right. OMG!!! That they really don’t know everything and are not perfect but are actually just ordinary human beings trying to do extraordinary things. Let’s face it, do any of us really have what it takes, at this stage of our lives, to become parents and raise a family? And yet our parents get a lot of flak from us even when honestly, I doubt we could do any better. Lol.
Then after the second revelation, where your parents actually show their own fears, share their doubts and concerns, there comes a difficult decision…retreat or advance? You can ignore what their saying completely and just retreat back to ‘a happy place’ where all things are good, keep doing whatever you like, tell yourself that your parents just don’t get you and they’re being (despite all their good intentions) unreasonable. Or…you can stand firm, hear them out and accept that very heavy mantle of responsibility that is being passed on to you. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. So, what do you do? Will you ever be ready?