Bearing the loss of loved ones is difficult for all of us. It probably is even tougher for a toddler who cannot express himself completely with words. My “brave” son, in his toddler years, lost two of his great grandmothers, in a span of little over a year, and he was extremely close to both of them. I am writing a few lines on these two women, who were years ahead of their generation and played a pivotal role in our lives. This piece will be incomplete without a description of these two great souls.
First I will talk about his maternal great grandmother, i.e. my grandmother fondly called Sheila mummy. Having lived with her for many years under the same roof, I was at the receiving end of her immense love and concern. In spite of losing her husband early, she was a strong pillar of support and used to actively drive our household decisions. In disagreements, she was always willing to hear us out and one could actually have intellectual conversations with her. In spite of being a female hailing from a generation that did not actively support women’s rights, she was educated, rational and progressive. She engendered the right values in her children and her grandchildren. She was and will always remain the glue that holds our entire family together.
Soon after my son was born, her health started deteriorating and she became frail and weak with a fading memory. However, her eyes used to still light up on seeing him and she never forgot to give him a hug. He will always be reminded of being given his first bath and first bite by her. He still has her name in his sub-conscious mind by referring to her room in my parents’ house, as “Sheila mummy’s room”. When he realised that he would not see her anymore he asked me where she had gone. I replied that she had become a star, looking down upon us always and remaining in our heart forever.
The second loss was that of my son’s paternal great grandmother, my husband’s grandmother, whom my son in his Hindi-Tamil mixed language, referred to as “badi pati” (big grandmother).
She led a fulfilled life playing all her roles so beautifully. I particularly saw her as an affectionate mother, loving mother-in-law, doting grandmother and extremely proud great grandmother. She was full of life, enjoying every little moment. While the duration of time I spent with her is limited, I have many special memories with her. Right from the way she greeted me with her “Good morning, Sairam” to how she always made the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. Consistent and perfect every time. The last movie we watched together will always be special for the child-like manner in which she ate the popcorn. Janaki pati, the lady with a golden heart who touched so many lives, will continue to touch my heart and remain in my memories forever.
My son is lucky to have spent some time with this wonderful person and will hopefully grow up with the same values and teachings that she believed in. As he now believes, badi pati will always be with us in the form of a star. She will continue blessing and showering love onto us.
When a child enters our lives, it’s a time to learn and not teach. While our kids cannot express the loss, we should ensure we talk to them about it and explain that the loved ones are gone. Every parent has a different viewpoint. For us, it worked explaining that they have become stars and will stay with us forever. Also, while it may not be possible every day, mention the loved ones in conversations and references, it may be one way to keep them alive forever. Lastly, when you feel your child is ready, help him to move on by subtly explaining that this is the reality of life and the show must go on.
In explaining this to him, I realize that the feelings in our heart, the memories we made will remind me of the great times my son and I had with these two people. If that stays, then in some strange way the person is still with you. Unlike before, when we waited for them to be physically present to talk, now we can talk to them anytime we want. My son and I go out to the terrace often and stare at the night sky to spot our departed loved ones in the stars. They are brightly shining down.
This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids).