How does one get to know a person after he’s gone? I recently lost a close relative by marriage whom I’d never had the occasion to get to know.
I’d seen him in various hospitals over the last two years. And a few weeks ago, I was there when his son brought him home for the last time to a dignified yet deeply mourning family. I stood on the sidelines, secretly thanking my stars that I needn’t share in the sorrow, but trying in every way I could to comfort those who weren’t as lucky.
But during the swaran shobha, when all his family spoke about him, I realized I wasn’t that lucky after all. I started to wish I’d known him, because he sounded like someone it would’ve been fun to encounter. I felt like I was the unlucky one, for not having seen him at his jokey, resourceful , leg-pulling best, and I said as much when I was asked to speak.
Apart from the memorial service, and all the stories told by relatives and friends who poured into the house on the days succeeding his death; it struck me that I knew him quite well in another way…through his son.
People made many references to certain qualities his son had inherited, and it fascinated me to think how one can leave little pieces of oneself embedded in the next generation; who then pass it on in turn; over and over. A quality I had always thought was exclusively my husband’s would turn out to be, from an anecdote someone would tell, actually his father’s.
I felt better, and a little less of an anomaly as one of the principal mourners, once I realized that.
He lived, by today’s standards, a short life; but it sounds like he lived it fully. When I go, I’d like to be remembered similarly -- with smiles and laughter and affection.
I’d say it would be a life well lived then.