Every year, the monsoon showers bring with it many unwanted guests, such as mould, fungus, small but highly irritating insects. It’s an annual battle. My mom knew how to tackle some of them, with dried neem leaves and powders.
While she had remedies for some, there were others that were not so easy to tackle. Every year, her health would dive with the onset of the rains, her legs would swell up and for the last few years it would get pus and maggots. Homecare nurses, being unpredictable, would disappear half the times. Dad, being the person he is, would get down to the task of cleaning her feet, and while it seemed too gruesome for me, he unflinchingly did it.
People assume a lot, about patients, their relatives, how much a person can take…and it’s often misleading. Throughout mom’s treatment, doctors and nurses would assume I would be the person to know the most about mom and be able to handle her care. But the truth is dad was the one who was the closest to her, and the most willing to do whatever it took to get her back on her feet. Yet in his quest, he managed to remain pragmatic too, often vetoing unnecessary treatments that would have just caused her more pain.
The last two years brought mom to her knees, literally. It started with her not being able to get up on her feet and eventually becoming immobile. But it also brought us, her caretakers, to face things no one expects to face. Gradually, we became quite adept at taking care of her, changing her, washing her…when the worst happens you just buck up and get to it and eventually, it’s one more demon conquered.
Like all struggles, it showed the true heroes. Dad, with his practical, no-nonsense approach and unflinching efforts was a hero and so was mom, who faced her ordeal calmly and with her sense of curiosity intact (she would chat with the nurses and enquire after the people who came visiting her).
While growing up, I used to wonder why mom and dad were even together. They could barely stand each other and would often have long fights, with insults and slights hurled every now and then. But things changed in the last few years. Perhaps it had been there all along, I never saw it. They had to be together because no one could have loved her more or done more for her.