At first it’s a day, then a day before, then a week, and then a month, and then a year. I am still on the ‘days’ bit with my Dad who passed on. I’m still on the ‘last week this time’ mode, recollecting each memory, each word, conversations we had, the lunch we had together and also those moments when I was irked with him...
He never let on his worries to me but he knew; he knew enough to settle his affairs, pay salaries, pay maintenance for the home he cherished for many years after my mother’s death. He even wrote his book (it’s still to be edited and published )
A 91 year old ‘white bread’ eating young dude; he also loved his kheer, rabdi jalebi, kulfi and kaju katli. He ate everything, relished what ever he ate but in moderation. His years with me were when I realised what it means to parent one’s parent. We had our spaces and boundaries but he depended on me and I depended on his larger-than-life, silent presence in my home. His specific seat in the living room, his chair at the head of our dining table, his water glass filled to a level that wasn’t heavy for him to lift. The cashew jar placed near his reach…each nook and corner of my home carries his memory.
When I took him to the hospital for his 2-D echo and he collapsed there, this niggling inner voice said it was time for him. When he was in the emergency ward, he was emotional yet crystal clear about no intervention and definitely no ICU. I signed the forms against intervention, knowing my father needed that for himself - the dignity to take his own decisions rather than be dismissed as a discarded object on the hospital bed with no voice of his own.
When he was in the room he longed for home.
And when it was time for him to depart, he knew. He told me that he would not survive this and was insistent I sit near him so that he could speak. Now as I write this it feels so unreal. As I soothed his cold hands, he told me all that needed to be done and where he had kept all the relevant details for us to access once he departed. He was also insistent I go home and rest.
Till the very end, he refused to use a bed pan or a sponge. He walked to the washroom himself. He stopped eating gradually and even if he did, his body purged it out. He looked frail and tired but was alert throughout. No fear. No sadness. All he confessed to was feeling impatient and restless with it all, knowing the inevitable but unable to hurry it up. What can one say about such a passing away? A graceful acceptance of what is to be...I’m grateful he passed on the way he had led his life - peacefully and with tremendous inner strength.
Death didn’t take him by surprise. He was ready to go.
And now when I feel the grief of losing him in all its entirety, I know that there is a mark that grief leaves which cannot be rubbed off. I still walk down the passage to wish him goodnight as I did each night; I end up soaking almonds for him and tears flow when I see the biscuit jar which had his favourite tea cookies.
I know time is the healer, but for now I need to feel this fully for however long it takes.