Most of my childhood memories are monopolized by my father; I was very close to him. My mother’s silent love and care were dwarfed by my father’s strong presence, overt expression of love, storytelling (he was an awesome storyteller) and countless other things. As a child, I thought of my mother like a shadow, whose presence I always felt; but a presence that never sought attention; a love that I took for granted.
I realized her power, her strength, and her unfailing yet undemanding love much later. As I reflect back, over the years, she taught lessons without uttering a single word; she allowed her actions for me to learn. While I have always raved about my father ( I even opened this post with him), I have never publicly expressed my love and how much I value her presence in my life. More importantly, I have never acknowledged the role-model she has been for me! What better day to do it than on the eve of Mother’s Day!
Three key things that I have learned from her are:
1. Be objective and practical, especially in difficult circumstances – I caught the first glimpse of it when I decided to marry someone from another state and caste. My father was furious, he wouldn’t simply agree to the marriage. But, my mother was objective. Despite being orthodox, she went beyond the obvious man-made differences and decided to give more importance to my boy friend’s character and our love. She was a pillar of support me through the period.
I again witnessed this strength when my father was diagnosed with terminal stage of cancer. He was still in his 50’s and our world suddenly came upside down. The prognosis was not more than few months. I expected my mother to completely break down, leaving my father’s care and other responsibilities to me and my husband. To my surprise, she stayed calm, took practical decisions – small and big, asked for help, took care of her own health in order to take care of her husband’s health – she practically became a pillar of strength and support to all of us. She was grieving, we would catch her silently wiping off her tears (when she thought she is unobserved), but she did not allow her grief to make her impractical and unnecessarily emotional. Her being practical made a world of difference, to herself and all of us around her.
2. Be adaptable, without losing your essence – Here again, I can relate countless incidents. The one I believe stands out is her tolerance to non-vegetarian food. A few decades back, she would not partake a meal at someone’s house if they were non-vegetarians. She would eat only if she was absolutely sure that the meal was cooked in separate kitchen. Today, chicken is cooked in her kitchen – albeit in different utensils. She found her ways to adapt to the new reality, without losing her essence. She still does not even eat eggs. It might seem very simple to rest of the world, but my South Indian Brahmin friends would understand the difficulty and adaptation it demands!
3. Be happy and contended with what you have – this really stands out for my mother. I have rarely seen her crib about things that she doesn’t have. She has seen several ups and downs in life, very difficult phases, including tough financial circumstances. However, she has always been contended and happy with what she has. Not that she does not aspire to have more, I am sure she does. But, she is grateful for what she has – which is why she probably gets more to be grateful for.
Happy Mother’s Day amma! May God bless you with pink of health and a long happy life. May we be blessed with your presence for years and years to come!