My mom lost her mother at an early age; she was just 6 years old and the second oldest among seven siblings. While I have three decades of memories with my mom, she barely even had a decade’s worth of it with her mother. Instead she understood grief by observing her father and their neighbours.
My maternal grandmother Uma (after whom I partially get my name Soma; the other reason being that I was born on a Monday or Somvar), was a quiet lady. She was also very beautiful (my mother resembled her the most) and belonged to an affluent family.
My grandfather, on the other hand, was an orphan, who having lost both parents in his childhood, was raised by his childless female neighbour (she saw a dream where his mother beseeched her to take care of him). He grew up and alongwith his brother managed to start a thriving business which enabled him to buy a large plot of land, erect a huge home and get married to my beautiful grandmom.
Losing her (she had a heart attack and he found her passed away) must have been traumatic but my stoic grandpa never showed his grief and instead raised the children (he never remarried) with a lot of help from a part time cook-cum-chaperone for the kids.
But grandmom was never far from his thoughts. Her huge portrait, for one, dominated the living room. Plus she was everywhere, in the chit chat of the neighbours, the books at home, in the faces of the children.
And when I was born, my grandfather who loved me a lot and had only to talk to me to get me to smile even through my tears, told my mother that he saw her mom in me.
While my mother missed having a mother the most during her growing up years, she could barely remember her anymore. And she would insist that losing someone early means you get over them faster.
It wasn’t the same when she lost her father. Grandpa was 60 and misdiagnosed with a stroke. Before he passed away, he kept calling for my mother (she was in Bombay and reached much later). Soon after, she was spooked when I (all of 4 years old) started saying that grandpa was coming in my dreams and I could see him sitting in our living room.
Till the very end mom never forgot about her father and I like to believe that she is finally reunited with her parents, after so many tribulations.