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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
When you think about your parents
Have you ever thought about your parents as individuals, beyond their role as your parents? Are you somewhat embarrassed by them? Have you ever asked your mother about her hopes, dreams, joys, sorrows, successes, failures? Do you know what your father’s favorite color is?
A few years ago, my father suffered two strokes within a few weeks of each other, the second leaving him paralyzed neck down, and unable to speak or communicate in any manner. In the two years he lived after that, he was physically well taken care of, mentally stimulated, and emotionally nurtured.
My mother created a positive normalized environment where he was as happy as he could possibly be, given the situation.
My emotional roller coaster
I was on an emotional roller coaster – grief and anxiety that I could not fully express, anguish, worry, helplessness, the pressure to stay strong and happy. I struggled with finding the right balance between worrying about my father’s situation and continuing to live my “normal” life.
During this period, regret was a large component of my thought process – regret for everything I had not done, regret at not knowing my father better as a person.
Finding answers to questions that niggle
Are you still mad at things that happened in the past that still bother you? Do you think they don’t “get” you?
There was a constant feeling of guilt, amplified due to me not being there all the time for my parents when they needed me the most. I often wondered what was going through my father’s mind, how he was calmly dealing with this monumental crisis. I tried to immerse myself in his stream of consciousness – and started writing a “diary” on his behalf. My father’s death, even though we had two years to “prepare”, created a giant vacuum in my life.
And I continued writing his diary.
My book, His Voice is a first-person narrative, my interpretation of my father’s unspoken thoughts, emotions, and key life experiences during the two years he lived after the stroke, paralyzed neck down and unable to speak. It is a memoir of sorts. Thoughtful, calm, funny – just like him. It is not just my father’s voice, but the voice of many.
Rethinking your relationship with your parents
Have you ever thought of spending a day with your parents – hmmm, could that actually be fun? Most importantly, do you talk to them regularly, answer their calls and messages?
I asked myself many questions when the crisis hit – but it was too late. I pray that most of you do not have to deal with major crises. I am sharing my father’s story to encourage you to pause and reflect on your relationships, behaviors, and attitudes – in the context of your own family, friends, and communities.
Are you really too busy, or do you just have other priorities which push them way to the bottom of the list?
Please call your parents. Don’t take them for granted, don’t wait, don’t hesitate, don’t postpone, don’t judge, just call. Call them today – and listen. And be there when they need you, and sometimes even when they don’t.
Click here to get a copy of His Voice.
This article was written as part of a series – the Desi Golden Years Project – on aging in the South Asian Community, made possible with funding from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF). The views expressed on this website and other materials produced by India Currents do not necessarily reflect the official policies of SVCF.
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