Our last overseas holiday was one that we all were eagerly looking forward to. It was a holiday, a trip down memory lane and a trip aimed at a special reunion. I was eagerly looking forward to. It was special. My son and my grandfather would finally get the chance to meet. My seven year old was looking forward to this meeting with great excitement, and I guess my grandfather was too.
I had bought gifts for my grandfather, packed our bags and ready for travel when one single phone call shattered all that excitement which we built up since we got our hands on those airline tickets. Two days before our departure we received this call, the call that informed us of my grandfather's demise. I was devastated. “Two more days” I cried “why couldn't you wait for two more days?”.
Instead of a happy reunion we ended up going for a last good bye. My grandfather was a great man and he lived a blessed life without any complications and died in his sleep peacefully at the age of 104.
He was a not only a great man he was the best great grandfather one could have. He had a close relationship with all his grandchildren. Every single one of us thought we were his favorite. That's the kind of attention and love he showed us.
As kids we used to visit him once or even twice a week. When I entered university these weekly visits lessened and became once in two or three weeks.
After marriage my husband and I visited him as often as we could. When our family grew, our visits became few and far between. Then we moved countries.
Visiting grandpa became an annual event. When life became busier our visits stopped. Seven years went by with that occasional call to see how he was doing, with posting a card and a gift for his birthday and then always remembering to send grandfather a Christmas card only because he never failed to send you one.
The last time I spoke to my grandfather he said “Chuti ( the nickname he used to call me by) you are in my daily prayers” He had so many people to mention in his daily prayer, starting from his own five children, then their spouses and the battalion of grand children, then the equal number of great grand children. But still he always remembered to mention me, the one who was farthest away, the one who rarely visited him, the one who did not call that often!
For the past seven years I was busy with my life, I was immersed in my work and my family life, I travelled the world and day after day going to see my grandfather was postponed.
But during all those days, months and years that I failed to visit him, I never failed to mention him in my daily prayers. Did he know that? Did My grandfather know that he was never forgotten? Did he know that he remained a big part of my life even if I was all grown up and far away? Did he know that I often spoke to my children about their great grandfather?
Its been four months since my grandfather left us, there isn’t a day that goes by without him being mentioned at least once but I still wonder if he knew how truly special he was to me.
I know I had a great relationship with my grandfather the man who actually inspired me to be a writer but I wish I had done more, I wish I had called him at least once a week not once a month. I wish I had gone to see him once a year rather than travelling the word. I wish I had given more thought to making him feel special. I know he didn't think this way. He was happy he was blessed to witness all our achievements and also be able to hold great grandchildren in his arms.
Experts say feelings of guilt after a loved one’s death is a common manifestation in most people. Experts also say that it is quite normal. People tend to blame themselves for something they did or didn’t do while their loved one was still with them. ‘Ifs’ and ‘buts’ start creeping into our thoughts during the bereavement process. The truth of the matter is that there is little that we can do to correct this situation now, as our loved one is no longer with us. But we certainly can recognise, understand and be determined to make a change so that there wont be a repeat of the same.
We have to understand and accept that we should never be too busy for the people we love. We should never hesitate to take time to call the people we care about if they are far. We should regularly facebook message, e mail, twitter, photo chat with them if they are tech savvy. We should make time to drop in and say “hi” if they are reachable. We should never think twice to just send a card to let them know we are thinking of them.
Note to myself: Life is too short and a ‘I love you’ to a person you love is never wasted.