Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Sorry for the silence over the last month. When I quit my job earlier this year, I made a promise to visit my mom more often. Suddenly, I realized the year was almost coming to an end and I was yet to make the trip. So, I made the choice to jump on a plane and go to India and spend some time with her. She is nearing her 82nd birthday and dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.
My brother visited her in October and she claimed that he never came to see her, just a day after he left. This led me to believe that her memory was failing fast and that she may not recognize me when I reached there. In fact, she had forgotten my family members when we visited her last December, while she did remember me. Being prepared for it was smart, as I was not devastated when she did not recognize me. It was sad to see her neighbor and companion introduce me to her as her son. She would not believe them. In fact, she told me, “These people are trying to trick me and tell me that you are my son.”
I am sharing this to provide some context for you to appreciate the reality that surrounds Alzheimer’s disease and choices that I made which has not only provided me with joy, but also the continued peace that it will generate in my life.
My previous two trips to visit her had ended poorly, so I made a conscious commitment that this trip would not turn out that way. We had a wonderful visit!!! And this was the first time it has ever worked. If I recall accurately, I remember Eckhart Tolle saying something like, “If you think you are awakened or enlightened, try visiting your mother.” I had repeatedly failed this Litmus test and I really wanted to see if it was remotely possible for me to be at peace with her. And, I now know that it is possible.
When someone asks you the same question over and over, it can get irritating. While attributing this to Alzheimer’s disease can help, it gets exacerbated when the same individual can be present in the moment and argue extremely coherently. In that instance, you tend to forget their condition and treat them as usual and engage in the argument. The sad part is that they will forget and move on, while you stay stuck in the argument and the resentment that follows.
This time around, I chose to stay very present and was able to calmly answer the same question, in some instances, over 15 times without any frustration. I must say that I was impressed.
I was also advised by a wise healer before my recent trip to hold my mom’s hand. She was very particular that I held it on this trip. My mom and I had not been very close since I spent my first five years with my grandma as my mom had developed hepatitis when I was born and then I left home at fifteen to go to boarding school, college and the United States. So this was a difficult exercise, but I wanted to do it. While I was able to stay calm and interact well with her, I was unable to sit peacefully with her and hold her hand.
Then, on the last day, about 15 minutes before I left her place to head back home, it just happened magically. It was beautiful and this picture will help me cherish it for the rest of my life.
Be thankful for the little things that happen in your life and stop chasing the big things your mind tricks you into believing will bring you the promise of joy and fulfillment.
P.S. As I was leaving her, my mom held me and said, “Please take good care of yourself, you have been the reckless one in the family.” Hearing this from her hurt me as it confirmed a hunch of mine about my branding in my family. It took me over a decade to grow out from under that branding with my wife in our marriage, even though two great friends (not relatives) of mine told her the day before we got married, “Krishna takes risks, but he is not reckless.” My young niece, who I adore and witnessed this exchange told me as we were heading to the car, “Uncle, they think of you as reckless because you did not follow the rules.”
My final two cents, “Follow your heart, not just the rules of society as long as it does not hurt anyone else.”