If I had to choose one word to highlight this year, it would be Gratitude. I had chosen to write about gratitude as the centerpiece of my year-end note to all my friends before we left for India to visit my mom who is dealing with Alzheimer’s.
Experiencing India only catapulted my choice to celebrate the word “gratitude” to a whole another level. I was on my way back to my mother-in-law’s house a couple of days ago after going out to print an email, when I began to feel an immense sense of gratitude for unusual things such as sanitation, trash collection and drinking water. While such amenities are taken for granted in the US, many people in countries like India lack them.
Spending time with my mother and watching her deal with Alzheimer’s made me realize once again as to how lucky most of us are in terms of merely having our mental faculties intact. I am sure, it is as frustrating for them to continually forget as it is for those around them. The amount of time she spends searching for stuff combined with fears of all the items that were stolen from her, was just agonizing even to watch. We had moved her to an active adult community earlier this year and she is still struggling to make new friends and feels very lonely.
We are grateful to my aunt Premila, my mom’s sister who has lovingly provided the necessary familial support to my mom. Her strength and drive are commendable. She was also instrumental in finding a great companion for my mom in Kripa, a lovely young lady who patiently takes care of the day-to-day functions for my mom. We are grateful to my uncle, General Radhakrishna, who graciously supports his wife in caring for my mom. His jokes and antics seem to provide the much-needed entertainment during times of stress.
We also had the privilege of visiting the Devnar School for the Blind on Saturday. I was touched by the energy level, optimism and zest displayed by the kids at this school. Given our family’s support and interest in helping the blind, we were given a tour of the school. We were truly blessed when we were introduced to Sashirekha, a young instructor at the school who taught in the computer lab. She gave us an energetic demonstration of the software and other applications.
Not until I pointed to our daughter did she share with us that she could not see. I was in shock and tears filled my eyes. I was in awe of this person, who was operating the computer and showing us how to use Word better than most people with sight. She was totally blind. She had lost her vision about 10 years ago due to some retinal disease.
My state of being in awe got extended when the teacher taking us on the tour came to her and said, “I can’t open the lock to the printer room, which key should I use?” Sashi promptly replied, “Use the longer key.” The teacher responded, “I tried that.” So Sashi walked over calmly and took the keys from the teacher and in two attempts opened the lock. I was only hoping that it would work out this way—to watch a blind person walk with confidence, take the keys from someone who had full range of vision but could not open a lock and open it even without being able to see.
I was so impressed with her ability and enthusiasm that I shared my dear departed hero Hal’s miraculous recovery from blindness using his belief in Neuroplasticity. She thanked me for providing her with inspiration and I truly believe that Sashi will give it her all. I wished her well and told her, “I hope you will regain your sight by the time I visit you next.” She was all smiles.
On our drive home, we spent some time being grateful for all the things that we take for granted every day. Being in India, our list grew so long that this note should be re-titled as “My Gratitude for the Week.”
I would like to end by saying that I am grateful for being alive, living a life of relative ease in the United States, being healthy—both physically and emotionally, for having the gift of sight and communication, having friends and relatives who care and a world of people who show me that my life is worth living.
Have a great 2013!
For harmony in your life and our world,