When our three-year old son Karthik, witnessed the passing away of his dear grandfather last week, he had several questions like any toddler would have. He knew that Jonathan thatha (his paternal grandfather) was no more and that he has gone forever. For a child to understand “gone forever” is both beautiful and important. Important because he would not live with the expectation of seeing his thatha tomorrow and beautiful because he hides wonderful memories in his little heart and he remembers the lessons that thatha had taught him in his sharp mind.
When Karthik saw his thatha lying peacefully in a cold freezer box, he asked us how thatha could go to God if we put him in a box. He was upset that we did not open the box to let him go. His question may be innocent but it helped me reflect on a very important issue in life. Sometimes, we find it hard to let go of our anger and hatred and we let our hearts turn icy and cold but we try to convince ourselves that we are free souls. But, how can we be liberated if we do not let go of feelings that hold us back from being peaceful? I am grateful that my son taught me this very important lesson on one of the saddest days of my life.
Later, when the wooden coffin arrived, he said, “Look, the boat has come to take thatha to God“. To me, this is one of the most beautiful imagery about passing on. We sail across the mysterious ocean of life and we move on to the ocean of eternal life. We don’t know if the winds are going to be rough or smooth but what we know is that we all travel through the waters of life and love.
Memories are sometimes the closest relationship we have ever had! They can bring smiles and warm our hearts and at the same time tear us apart. Past relationships swell up in the form of memories, some of which are hard to let go. Sometimes, it is the worst memories that grow on us and the pleasant ones slip away like fine sand through our fingers. A relation may end in good or bad terms but the memories linger on. Some of us try to paddle away from memories that hold us back from moving on but the harder we try, the faster they float back. And some other times, some good memories are like wine…maturing into something more crimson and bitter-sweet.
There are are many things that rekindle our memories: an anecdote, a nostalgic perfume, a torn picture, a movie, the lake front you shared a couple of beers with a friend, a hearty laughter that reminds you of your grandfather, a warm hug on a cold day from a distant friend, the song of your first dance and conversations that never ended. Friends and dear ones that leave us, never leave completely. They leave behind a piece of themselves and a piece of us. It is not possible to get over relationships or memories, because they were real at some point. But, it is important to let go of memories that hold us back from being ourselves and treasure the memories that make us smile.
Here is to memories…good and bad…memories that hold us together with friends from the past…memories that bring a smile to our heart!
Grandfathers are beautiful. They have unconditional love for their grandchildren that is hard to explain. Some love them for what they are and some try to mould their grandchildren into how they’d like them to be. My grandfather Mr. Paul Vincent was of the first kind. He was proud of my achievements (yes, he thought I was awesome), my personality (he admired my confidence, my heart, my friendship), my taste in clothes and above all he loved me for what I was.
April 11 was a very hard day to go through. First, I denied the fact the my grandfather could not be in my life anymore. Then, as it slowly crept in, it started hurting. Then hurt led to a feeling of emptiness that goes past all human understanding. Time will heal the pain but will not take away this void he has left behind. Walking alone, reminiscing the great times we have had with him brings tears of sadness and joy. Sad, because we have not lost a grandfather but a friend. Joy, for all the vibrant memories. We were fortunate to have spent quality time with him through the years and he has been a true friend. An open-minded, honest, happy, straightforward, witty, punctual, well-informed, affectionate, caring grandfather was he!
Life is difficult to understand and the thought that he suffers no more brings comfort to a healing heart. And, there are plenty of reasons that make me smile as I think of the most happiest person I have known!
Grateful to his life, our memories and to everyone’s love and prayers!
May he rest in peace 🙂