One thing I’ve promised to do in the spirit of moving forward, honoring legacies, and simply, trying to do better — was to honor Daddy’s legacy on this Father’s Day.
I’m doing that with two posts:
1) My $.02 | Preparing for the Inevitable – I’ve been asked a few times over to share anything I’ve learned, working through my family’s estate, over the past few months. I did my best here. I welcome feedback on it. And I hope it’s helpful.
I’m also always happy to discuss it if/when you find yourself going through it. I’m not an expert, just a guy with some experiences to share:
2) “WAIT, WHAT?” or HOW I GRIEVE – I’ve been asked a few times over to consolidate all the posts I’ve written about Daddy over the past few months; I’ve done that here in one blog post, that gives some additional context around the origin of the posts as well as links to all 16 I’ve written about my journey/experience.
#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for all the love, support, and strength our family’s been given. All we can do is say thank you and pay it forward. Here’s what probably amounts to some spare change, being paid forward.
Today was beautiful. Pure love across generations, with Anaiya and Jaan very squarely in the middle. From the moms who raised me even though I wasn’t blood (too many to list), To all my friends who are moms (forthcoming, first time, or on infinite repeat).
To Masi and Masis, Mamis, Fai, Bhuas, Kaki, Chachis, Nani, and Nani, who were here but weren’t “here”.
To Ba, who first taught me how unqualified love should be.
To my Sis, Anu Kiran, who’s a mom in sister’s clothing.
To my Mom, Satinder Chadha, who’s taken me in as a son from day one.
To my Mumma, Renu Bhatt, who’s at the center of all I am.
To my wife, Priya KC Bhatt, who’s at the center of all I want to be.
There’s nothing more profound than these moments. Today was beautiful.
Today was also profoundly different. 2018 and the first part of 2019 will have many of those, profound yet profoundly different moments. It’s nice to have love all around you as the universe insists on moving forward.
For all the rains, there are no dark clouds hanging over us. Just stars, moons, and a profoundly different POV on everything we have going on down here.
We know that. And academically, philosophically, hypothetically, we all know that they will always be there, doors, arms, hearts, wide open. But the past year has been anything but academic, philosophical, or hypothetical. We’ve invaded their house and their lives and they’ve gone above and beyond on a minute-by-minute basis to spoil us and their grandkids rotten.
Food and nourishment. Laundry. Pick ups and drop offs. Peace of mind. More than anything, peace of mind.
For all the transactional things that saved us time and energy, they bigger picture is peace of mind. All they did for us that can’t be recounted individually can be summed into peace of mind.
Filling every waking moment of our lives with love, support, and all the unsaid, unspoken words and deeds in a way only parents can.
Sure, during work travel and late nights, it was invaluable to have the 24/7 support they provided. But that pales in comparison to where we find ourselves today.
Never more has this support been on fuller display than the past 3 weeks, while I’ve been away. Just this morning, in what’s become routine, Dad is dropping Priya off at the train station only after taking the kids to school; and on the flip side of the day Mom will be there to pick the kids up and bring them home while Priya attends to a late work meeting.
What the hell would we do without them? I have no words. I’ve got nothing but immense gratitude.
12 days since my Daddy left the physical world. Hinduism is incredibly ritualistic. I’ll leave it at that. But in essence, our family is using the next few days as a way to help my father’s soul find peace as it rises to the universal soul, while also slowly bringing an end to the mourning period at which point the family is supposed to more formally transition back to normal life. Yeah. Thanks for the roadmap, Hinduism.
What I do love about the way we celebrate someone’s death is one key point: danam, which literally translates to gift or offering, but in the context of mourning and death rituals, it more spiritually means charity.
Our family will travel to a local school for children facing physical and mental difficulties, and bring them a fun, healthy and indulgent lunch. 200 kids. My father spent his life serving people (family, friends, the community at large). For all the pujas, prayers, moments of silence, and fantastically colorful and sense overwhelming procedures, this is the single greatest thing we are doing to honor Daddy’s legacy and soul.
This is the single greatest thing we can do to help him achieve universality (though he’s done more, with plenty leftover, to cover his journey and credit a world with what he has left over).
That’s the 12.T
That’s my wife.
She turns 40 today.
You’ve heard me write, over and over again, that Daddy said out loud and often, that Priya is the single greatest thing to happen to me and to our family. He knew his sh*t.
Today’s her birthday. A big milestone birthday. On the day that the celebration of my Daddy’s life moves from the inauspicious (mourning) toward the more auspicious (celebratory), I don’t find it to be any coincidence that we’re sharing this day with Priya’s 40th.
She’s spent the past two weeks dealing with two kids, bouts of the flu, kids with nightmares, kids with 4am fevers, all while facing an incredibly demanding stretch at work, all while mourning and grieving for her Daddy too. And she’s done it with grace, dignity, huge smiles, and without missing a beat.
She spoke at an impromptu religious ceremony held by our community in South Jersey (what an amazing extended family, those friends we’ve known for 50 years in South Jersey) and carried the full thoughts and weight of our family on her shoulders, and delivered the kind of thank you that my Daddy would have raved about for years.
She made him proud. As she always did. This is the woman whose vows to me during our legal ceremony 7+ years ago anchored in her promise that we will always be there for our family (collective). We didn’t know how soon or how often. But she’s never wavered.
The way she has handled the past 12 days is evidence and validation of Daddy’s earliest words to me about her: she’s the best thing.12 days.40 years.12|40.
Priya, you and Daddy are bonded together in eternity, in service and in the most celebratory and auspicious of ways. I smile wide today for that reason.Hey, best thing. Happy Birthday. You make all life and love possible.
Dogged is a word I don’t use nearly enough. To describe me. To describe the people I’m with or around. To describe anyone. I haven’t formally reserved the word for very committed uses but I think the nature of the word itself makes it so.
I can say that I’ve been socialized to say something like “dogged pursuit”, treating the word dogged more as the kickoff to a compound word. What and where have I seen dogged? Embodied? No place better than this.
Maybe one better place. Maybe one more powerful place. Maybe one place I need to tell you about now, and will take so much time to tell you about in the future. You are dogged. In your pursuit of everything. And I love it. It’s inspiring. And it’s a reminder.
Your great grandmother, your Ba, was similar. A week ago we celebrated what would have been her 100th birthday (albeit a little early, but that’s not the point.) You have a connection to your Ba. In so many ways it’s uncanny. In my head I still think you have a third middle name — Bhanu, or “Ba + Nu” or, “of Ba.” It’s my own play on words.
You see, your Ba was an extraordinary spirit. She lived a fuller life through age 40 than most live ever. So when she, tragically, lost her ability to walk in the latter quarter of her life, she embraced her challenge and role in life with grace. At least that’s what I saw, as a grandson. And I allow myself a little bit of time to reflect on her experience as an adult but stop myself at the risk of going down a near infinite number of rabbit holes that would call so many things into question.
What I remember, with strength and conviction, is how she lived for most of the time I knew her. How she fought her way to subsist. When people watch this video, they’ll be hopeful and optimistic and even congratulatory about what your future holds. When you’re able to move your hands in front of you. When you’re able to get traction and crawl. When your push ups lead you to stand up, and not just to a standstill. Just about everyone who looks at this video is going to smile wide at your effort. That’s the benefit of youth, my love.
When I look at this video, know that my mind will live in two very different places. I’ll always find happiness in your every effort. Every effort. I promise you. But there’s a strong part of me that will watch this video and think of your Ba. And how she faced similar challenges often without hope. A more painful way to live. On the other side of the bell curve. Where knowledge isn’t about seeking what is next and pushing your body forward, but where knowledge is a painful reflection of what was and what could have been.
And where, like your Ba, with all of that history, pain, and legacy hung around your shoulders, having broken your legs and shattered your ability to even walk — you still fight, and crawl, and scramble, and make do.
Today, my love, you were dogged. In you, I saw a reflection of your Ba. There are few greater compliments you will receive.
Today my love for you is dogged. In honor and appreciation.