My Aunt Carmen passed away a week ago. She was 92. One of four siblings, of which my mother was the eldest, she was the last living member of her generation. All the others before her having left this world a long, long time ago.
This is my own small tribute to her memory.
At the very outset, and in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to confess that whatever I have to say is heavily biased. Simply because Carmen was not only my mother’s sister, she was also my godmother.
It’s funny, whenever we suffer a personal loss – be it a hard drive that crashes causing a year’s worth of images to go up in smoke, or a son that leaves home to study abroad or, as in this case, the passing away of a very near and very dear one – our thoughts inevitably tend to get prefixed by two simple words:
‘I wish’… I got to spent more time with her…
‘I wish…’ I could have contributed more in the last few weeks towards alleviating her suffering…
‘I wish…’ I was more vocal in my appreciation of her…
How absolutely stunning, for instance, she looked in a sari even when she was well past her 80s.
Or how much I admired her zest for life. Here was an individual on whom Life had singled out to dump far more that the average set of problems. From losing her husband relatively early, to a whole of bunch medical issues each of which in their own right falling well into what most would consider ‘serious’. And yet, she never ever gave the impression that she allowed any of them to weigh her down.
Far from it. Till very recently, for example, she was more than willing to accept documents and even entire manuscripts for proof reading. An amazing feat given the fact that she had sight in only one eye, having lost the other to a cataract surgery that went horribly wrong decades ago. And despite that, let me tell you, she did an exceptionally good job.
On a more selfish note, ‘I wish…’ I spent more time picking her brains for information on family members like my grandparents, great grand parents, and grand uncles and grand aunts that have gone on before her. Till the very end her mind was crystal clear and tack sharp and being the last of her generation it was truly an opportunity missed. With her demise that slate has now been wiped clean.
Looking around at the people attending her Memorial the fact that she was well loved was obvious to see. Each one, without exception, struggling to come to terms with the loss.
Yet I’d like to think that somewhere, someplace, far, far away there is a small group of individuals that are actually celebrating.
After being made to wait patiently for an extraordinarily long period of time, one particular family is, at long last, whole again. And though she did take her own sweet time to make up her mind, the prodigal daughter had finally returned home.
My dear Aunt Carmen, till we meet again, may your soul rest in peace.