The thought of growing old was always appalling to me, in my early twenties it seemed to me very much like a topic that was repugnant, a topic so contemptible of discussion as if I was never going to grow old.
Well Life is always the best book to learn from and it gave me some wonderful occasions to spend time with Goldie (that’s how I address my favorite great uncle). Though these meetings were brief but the learning curve has been steep and those moments will stay as chronicles in my mind.
I haven’t been very fortunate in sharing a deep bond with my own grandparents, as we were a typical nuclear family. It was only for festivals and family occasions we met our grandparents. As kids I hardly remember spending any quality time with them as I was more engrossed in playing with my cousins. Days passed and even before I realized that I was so strayed away from them, they were dead.
However I always felt close to this one person who happens to be my great uncle (maternal side). The bond I have felt with him was inexplicable. I had an instant liking to him the moment I saw him as a kid. He has these passionate eyes and the positivity that spreads in the atmosphere when he is around gives me immense pleasure and joy. I had a chance to occasionally meet him for every couple of years since my teens.
I happened to meet my great uncle again during a recent family occasion who is in his late eighties now. I was lucky enough to quickly catch up with him. As I recollect that beautiful encounter I felt an instant urge to lay down my thoughts of how gracefully a man can grow old .I had embraced years ago this great uncle of mine as my role model.
The innocuous smile that I see on his face through years lights up my mood instantly making me feels way younger than I am. It sends me through the reminiscent moments I spent with this Goldie as a kid; trying hopelessly to impress him singing songs that I learnt in my music class, all for those accolades he gave me at the end of my performance.
As the bus stood stranded for more than half an hour on the ghat road uphill amidst a huge downpour that seem to be pounding parts of Southern India for several weeks, I was eager to meet this Goldie who was the only reason I travelled amidst all the chaos created by the torrential rainfall.
As I walked through the passage of the hotel room to greet my favorite Goldie, I saw him sitting and the room was filled with guests. His face instantly lit seeing me and welcomed me with a warm smile.
He looked more tired and fragile than the last time I saw him, which was about 2 years back. But the positivity and warmth remained intact. Age has definitely taken a toll over this vibrant personality but my thoughts left me pondering if this is what people often refer to as ‘to age gracefully’.
With a beautiful gracious woman as his wife, grandsons, granddaughters, sons and daughters great grandkid too, adorning him all around, the life that this person has sailed through was not that easy one. Through ups and down and hard times he stood as a firm pillar of support providing the best to his family.
He stands as an epitome of the words that I have felt were a bit chauvinist when I heard it first in one of my favorite TV series ‘Breaking Bad’. …Where the lead actor Bryan Cranston says in one of the episodes ‘A Man provides’. But as I try to assimilate my thoughts about this fine gentleman I think he is definitely a Man who provided the best to his family and lent them his positivity when they were in dire need of it.
About a couple of years when I was going through a low phase in my life I got quite lucky to have got a few minutes to spend with him. And I happened to share the highly negative vibes that seem to have clouded me over. He heard intensely every word I told him and leaning forward towards me he told if I had got weakened like you have at such a young age I would have never succeeded in giving happiness to this family. Everybody goes through a low phase at some point but he asked me to remember that it was not permanent. Neither good nor bad that happens in life is permanent. And asked me to stay strong during all times and blessed me that I will jus breeze through difficulties if any in my life.
Those words I am sure were going to keep ringing in my head forever.
I had thought during my late teens that during old age one defines success in terms of career accomplishments and wealth he/she has gained but every minute I spent with this divine Goldie made me accentuate my thought process over the idea of ageing that ‘to age gracefully really means the positive attitude people develop as they go through the various stages of life’.
And I sometime feel envious that he isn’t my own grandfather all to satisfy my greed to spend some more valuable moments with him. But have been lucky to have such a great uncle who is one of the most optimistic person I have met.Goldie is going to be favourite for forever