A Legacy of Caring
Early yesterday morning, as the world slept, my mum won her 18-month battle with cancer.
Yes, it took her life. But not once, not even for a nanosecond, was it a match for her beautiful and determined soul.
It tried, but wasn’t able to take even an ounce of her dignity.
It tried harder to make her feel down on life, but mum was unyielding in her positivity.
It forced a battery of drugs upon her. She didn’t flinch.
It tried to scar her life and ended up giving that painting much more character.
Yesterday, at her wake, I was witness to something amazing. Barely four hours after the news of her passing had reached the world, a steady stream of people came to pay her their last respects. They came from near, and some, as far as 150 miles away. They abandoned their weekday responsibilities and came in groups, large and small. I stopped counting after 300 people.
When did my mother earn the love, respect and adoration of so many people? What exactly had she done for them in her 75 years on this earth? The answer, as I learned from talking to people, was pretty simple. She cared.
Mum cared to talk to people regularly. She cared to help those in need. She cared about their families. She cared to show up at every important event in their lives. For many, she was like a second mom. They used adoring terms like “Moti Mummy” which means “Big Mother.”
But for me, she was and will always be “Mummy.” I have wonderful memories of her filled with love, learning and life! My Mummy taught me to live each day to its fullest.
I remember sitting with her just a couple of weeks ago, holding her hand, as I did for most of the time I spent with her in the past year-and-a-half. I told her about things happening in the kids’ lives. She lay there, quietly breathing in a morphine-induced sleep. Suddenly, out of the blue, in a quiet voice, she told me that it is our duty and responsibility to be kind and caring of others, and doing so is what makes a good life. I acknowledged her advice, as she has told me this before. She then repeated it, in a firmer, almost irritated voice. I told her “yes, yes, I already do this.” This seemed to satisfy her. She then nodded and went back to sleep.
Yesterday, as I stood in front of the searing heat of her funeral pyre, flames liberating her from the pain of the disease, I kept thinking about all the people who had come to grieve for her that morning. I reflected on what they told me about her. And then, the statement she had made that night came back to my mind. And everything clicked.
Caring for others was the most important thing for Mummy. I believe she just wanted me to know this, so I could carry on her mission.
And carry it on, I will. I plan to re-double my efforts to help public schools with the non-profit I founded (Edaptable). I will do much, much more to use education as a tool to make a brighter future possible to kids for whom circumstance or social inequality have shut the doors. I will carry on my mum’s legacy of caring, and help make lives better.
Today, the day after her passing, a part of me is sad to no longer have her company, and to hold her hand. But in all honesty, my heart is filled with immense pride and joy as I reflect upon her meaningful life that touched so many people. I mourn, but I also celebrate.
You can also help me celebrate my mother’s life. Don’t offer me your condolences. Offer the world your caring. Do something as simple as calling a friend or family member and making them feel loved, or something bigger, like giving a less fortunate person, a helping hand, your time, or your charity.
It will bring me great joy to hear about your acts of caring in the comments.
Be in peace, Mummy. Your legacy lives on.