My father’s ageing has made me tender hearted to the elderly. This is good because I’ll be in that age group soon.
I remember him saying one evening this March, “Zarina (ammi), I’ve become alone. I’m alone.” Just being frail, bedridden, and mentally wandering makes it harder for him to join the party. Everyone goes to work, parties, shop, chat, while he’s too weak to come along.
This March, after a ten-day stay, I had to move from my parents’ home to a conference hotel in Lahore. But to simplify it for abbu’s mind, I told him we were leaving for the airport and flying out. As we prepared to load into cars and leave for PC Hotel 30 minutes away, abbu limped over and got his sneakers. He put them on, painstakingly slow with the shoelaces. And with a heartbreakingly eager smile and a pitifully determined mien, he said he was going with us.
“To the airport?” I asked, unsure if he was planning on flying to the US with us, or if he’d figured out our stupid little ruse. “Yes, of course!” he smiled bravely, “Zarina, let’s go. You’ll go with me,” as if he knew well enough that he’d encounter resistance. As if he knew someone would say, “No, stay. You’re too weak to go. There’s no room in the car. Everyone *else* has to go.”
So he smiled, showing how game he was for anything. And even as I wondered how we’d handle this situation – that we’d LIED ourselves into – my heart shattered to see this powerful man reduced to smiling as if he’s pleading, and trying so hard to become part of the party, to say goodbye to his youngest child for who knows how long.
I had a heartbreaking dream about an ageing mentor being depressed and alone. Today I had to call to check on them.
Don’t forget your ageing loved ones. Isolation increases anyway. Try to assuage it.
This is abbu kissing my hand tenderly at my daughter’s birthday party in Lahore.