My father in law (mama) passed away on the 28th November 2016. We were getting him prepared for a Cataract Operation and leaves us with a heart attack. Well, he was old, he was slowing down, but he was still managing his own things. He could shower by himself etc. So obviously this came from no where. Well, saying that, we only recently came to know of his weak heart.
With all three kids out of Sri Lanka, his well fare and what do we next had been a major worry for us lately. Just about two years ago just after his 80th he contracted an infection on his leg, then last year he broke his thigh bone and had to undergo an hip replacement surgery. Since then we saw a slight decline of his health and his morale. I also think passing of his mate PM was another reason.
So Jana hopped into his room on the 28th morning, full of beans. He was surprised to see her as she wasn’t meant to be there till the 30th. India was having a “hartal”, I have been informed it is a kind of strike action where all the shops and businesses are closed. So Jan changed her plans and got to Sri Lanka by the 27th night. She gave dad a big hug and said, “ok, dad we have things to do today” ( I don’t know if thats what she said word to word, but I imagine knowing her personality it would have been something along those lines), made him a cup of coffee, and explained the reason for her early visit. She needed to change some local currency and she had decided to do some shopping for her dad as well, she asked him to be ready to go and see the doctors regarding the eye surgery. Mama reluctantly said “ok then”.
She was on her merry way and suddenly she stopped before she reached the gate. Went back and said “I didn’t give you a kiss”, gave him that kiss and left. Mama had managed to shave and then gone to have a shower. He had an aide who stayed with him during the day. He was making him porridge and heard mama calling out “Rajan, Rajan” he found him collapsing. Jana returned home when the chaos was unfolding. They rang for the ambulance and she rang me while waiting for the ambulance.
I was asking her “is he conscious”. Jana was not answering my questions, I guess we were both trying to talk at the same time. The phone line was rather bad as well. Anyway she hung up quickly as soon as the ambulance got there. That was just a 2 second phone call.
I was thunderstruck, sat there for awhile trying to gather my thoughts and words. Now I had the task of calling hubby and his other sister who lived in Sydney. I did it. Hubby was going to come home so we could ring again ask what’s going on. His sister said she was going to call another relative who was also a Cardiologist, who knew all the medical history of mama.
I was seated, staring at the phone to ring. 20 minutes later the phone rings, maybe 15, I don’t really know, She was sobbing “appa (dad) is gone”, “What do you mean?!!!” “appa is gone“. I had no words to say other than “Ennamma” (kind of like saying why hun”) , we both sobbed. I wish I was there to hug her, hug her tight. She was there for me. But I have never been there for her.
I thought what poor luck does this girl have. First her mum, then she was the only one at home when the 1983 riots broke and her house was set on fire, then her hubby and now her dad. The other two have always escaped doing the hard things. But probably I have to look at it in a different light. She was the lucky one to have had the opportunity to make him that last coffee, to have remembered to give him that kiss. She wasn’t even going to be there till the 30th, even a twisted fate helped her to be there.
Everything else after that is a haze. I somehow got the nerve to call hubby and sister. They left the next day to Sri Lanka.
There is no point talking about his passing or the funeral anymore. He is gone and that’s that. What ever we wanted to tell him but didn’t was a missed opportunity, What ever we managed to tell him or do for him was a blessing.
There are many life lessons to learn from this man. Good, bad and the ugly. But they are all lessons nevertheless. He sure leaves an amazing legacy. Proud to have been his daughter in law. I am not sure if he ever regarded me as his daughter in law. I was always a little girl who was his daughter’s friend. Ah no I did become his daughter in law when ever he didn’t see eye to eye with his son. Not that I didn’t have moments of exasperation thinking “why me” have to deal with these two bull heads. But he was no ordinary father in law. He was in fact an extra ordinary man. He was a bit warped at times. But aren’t we all.
I will gather my thoughts in the next couple of days and do justice to his memory.