Blue Christmas…One Year in Virginia.

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Christmas 2013

 

 I see an empty place at this table. I see a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved.

That empty recliner.

It hurts my heart.

On the night of December 19th, 2012…we arrived back home in Virginia. On the 25th of December 2012, my Daddy had sat in that chair, ready for Christmas. Now, here we are one year later. And that chair is empty. I suffered three losses this year. All of them major. Two are private and I will only share them with family at this point. But one…one I will share with you all.

This year was a year of many things, all jam packed into one fast paced year.

I took him for his first hair cut in months, that’s his (our) Redskins jacket hanging on the coat rack by the door.

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He taught Bear how to use the Snow Blower…from the comfort of his recliner inside the house. Bear would have to run inside to asks questions.

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Dad would say “You’re doing a great job, buddy!!” and mean it.

We took my Dad to see the Nationals, the Baseball Team for Washington DC and the surrounding areas.

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President Washington wins the base race!

He would spend a couple times a week at my house, enjoying the scenery and being waited on hand and foot. 😉

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We would go for drives, his favorite thing in the whole wide world to do.

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We would go grocery shopping together, and take a moment to stop and enjoy a particularly gorgeous VA sunset.

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He would laugh at me when I asked for change to ride the horsey outside the Grocery Store.

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Sometimes, he would be too weak to go inside the store. So I would leave him in the car with the windows down and tell him “Now, be a good boy! Don’t bark at people!” and he would make mad barking noises as I walked away.

And then…it all stopped.

My Father, the greatest man I have ever had the privileged of knowing (outside of my loving husband), passed away on September 5th, 2013. The family was by his side as he passed. My Step-Mom held his right hand and I held his left. My husband by my side. My little brother and his wife sitting next to me, my Step-Sister-In-Law by my Step-Mom and my Aunt at the foot of my Daddy’s bed. My Brother-In-Law was five minutes late and to this day…his heart breaks with the loss of not being there to say goodbye.

My Daddy was put in the hospital at the end of June. Eight weeks later, he was finally well enough to be transferred to a rehabilitative therapy center. He was on dialysis. He had lost too much weight. He still had moments of delusions and hallucinations. The chances of him making a full recovery were slim, the chances of him going home ever again were even less.

My Daddy put up a huge fight. He stayed as long as he could. In a moment of clarity, he even declared that he needed more time.

But he had been sick and in pain a long time. It was time for him to rest.

I spoke at his funeral. As did my little brother and my Step-Brother. I’m going to share what I spoke with you all, I’m removing his name and replacing it with ‘Daddy’.

Once Upon a Time…

That’s how most of my Daddy’s stories began. From as far back as I can remember, to as recent as a month before he died.

I could stand here and tell you a great many things about the man who was my Father. Many of them you would know, some you may not. But to me, the most important thing about him was his heart. I feel it was most easily seen by the stories he would tell. Sometimes they were for fun, maybe they were to make a point, and other times they were to teach. But every single time, they showed his depth of his character and his great gift of love.

The one he told me the most often was one about me. I used to think it was just an amusing story. A remembrance. Now, looking back on his life and how many people he meant something to, I realize it was much more than that.

Here is that story…
Once Upon a Time there was a NOISE.
When “Gori Rajkumari” was just a little girl, with hair longer than her dress, she decided that she was mad enough at us to run away.
So she packed her little suitcase with her favorite pajamas and stuffed animal and walked out the front door.
But I ran out the back door, to some trees between our house and the neighbor’s house.
When “Gori Rajkumari” arrived, I said quite loudly “OOOOOOooooo”…and she slowed down.
Again, I said “OoooooOOooOO” and she stopped.
Once more, I said “OOOOoooOOOOO!” and she ran for home.
I beat her there and was waiting at the door when she said “I’ve decided to give you another chance.”
And I replied “That’s probably a good decision.”

You see, my father was wise enough to know that he couldn’t force people to change their minds but he might be able to influence them in different ways. No matter what, he was always proud that you had come to the decision on your own, by your own volition. I could have kept walking, straight to our neighbor’s house…and I believe he would have been just as proud of me for that as he was for me coming home.

His life. His purpose. His morals. They all touched so many of us, in our own unique ways.

No single story belongs to just one of us. We all have an “Daddy” Story to tell. But as much as we have an “Daddy” story, I know that we also have an “Daddy” lesson.

Somewhere, at some point…he gave us more than a smile and a laugh. He shaved off a piece of his wisdom and shared it with us. To carry on.

“Daddy” loved many things in life, his family, his work, his sports, and his causes. But I think one of the most important legacies he gave to us, were the stories he told. These stories taught us something without us even realizing it.

The stories showed his love for life. They showed his love for us and ours for him. When we tell others, he will live on through us.

These stories are what make my Daddy immortal.

So….Once Upon a Time, there was a man named “Daddy”…

There was also a poem that one of my Father’s good friends read at the service. It was one that had comforted my Step-Mom and when she had shared it with me and asked me if I thought it would be a good verse to use at his service and on his memorial cards, I wholeheartedly agreed. It speaks to me.

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads his white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. he is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch him until, at length, he hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, he is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. he is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as he was when he left my side.
And, he is just as able to bear his load of living freight to his destined port.
His diminished size is in me — not in him.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, he is gone,”
there are other eyes watching him coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “here he comes!”

And that is dying…

For years, my one greatest fear has been what would happen to me when my Daddy died. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend it. He had always been my best friend and my first love. He was my moral compass, my sounding board, my biggest fan, and the character in which all other’s were measured.

I felt like a little lost child, left out in the rain.

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How was I to possibly live in a world in which he didn’t exist?

But so far, I am existing. It’s a different life. It is not an easy one by any means. I’m anxious and on medication for panic attacks which I had never had before. Depression lurks around every corner…I stave it off with light and laughter. But I also fear that I am holding off the heart breaking task of mourning for my father. My Step-Mom says that I must be patient with myself, that everyone grieves differently. To let it come as it comes.

But I fear I am not doing it right.

My Doctor says that my anxiety is coming from pent up emotions.

So obviously, my grief is mashed up inside there, cramped and shoved down…

Christmas.

This year I was manic in my shopping. I adopted a senior and a child in need and spent the love and money on them that I would have bestowed on my Daddy.

I spent the day with my family. My Mom, my Husband, my little Brother and his Wife, my Aunt, my Step-Mom, and my Step-Brother and his wife.

I did not cry.

We all recollected stories about my Dad. The funny things he said and did. The Christmas Gifts we had surprised him with over the years. A saw, a coat, a pair of glow in the dark crab boxers.

We shared love with one another.

So…this is my second post this year. It is also my last for 2013.

I hope next year is better. I hope I can come back and write more. Share life with you all. Inspire. Challenge. Grow.

Till then….

Happy New Year my friends and loved ones.

Till we meet again….

©2013 Gori Rajkumari

Our little Baby Face

aka What Our Child Might Look Like 🙂

In honor of a recent post by Sharell.

Actually, I had done this some time ago but never thought to post it on my blog.

To be honest, Bear and I have been trying for a few months although in more of a vague sort of way.  At the moment it’s more of a  “If we do then we do and if not, that’s cool too”  type of thing.

I’m sure it will start getting more serious after some time but not yet!

SO NO IDEAS HERE PEOPLE!  I am not pregnant!

But this just proves our kids are going to be gorgeous.  Of course, I knew it already.  Naturally.  Yep.  (Please God don’t let them inherit my forehead or Bear’s eyebrows).

So, without further ado, here are two version that I did from two separate sites.  Try it yourself and post a comment with a link to the picture, both sites have that option!  Both sites also let you Morph your face with a celebrity just in case your dying to know what you offspring with Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie would look like!  😉

From the Morph Thing website, I give you Baby Chandra!

 

 

Baby Chandra

 

 

 

And from the Make Me Babies website, I give you Chandra at 3 or 4 (thank God her hair got better)!

 

 

Chandra at 3

 

 

 

Clinical Trials

In my last post I promised to touch on each one of my bullet points.  This is one of those.

  1. My father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and is being treated with chemo and a pending surgery.

Yes.  So.

I had thought that cancer only ran on my mother’s side of the family as no one on my father’s side had ever had Cancer or so the records and memory tells us.

But my Dad had to go and be a rebel and get something all new and junk.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Esophageal Cancer.

Esophageal cancer (or oesophageal cancer) is malignancy of the esophagus. There are various subtypes, primarily adenocarcinoma (approx. 50-80% of all Esophageal cancer) and squamous cell cancer. Squamous cell cancer arises from the cells that line the upper part of the esophagus. Adenocarcinoma arises from glandular cells that are present at the junction of the esophagus and stomach.[1] Esophageal tumors usually lead to dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), pain and other symptoms, and are diagnosed with biopsy. Small and localized tumors are treated surgically with curative intent. Larger tumors tend not to be operable and hence are treated with palliative care; their growth can still be delayed with chemotherapyradiotherapy or a combination of the two. In some cases chemo- and radiotherapy can render these larger tumors operable. Prognosis depends on the extent of the disease and other medical problems, but is fairly poor.

Apparently my father got this cancer from a long undiagnosed and ignored issue with acid reflux, a long time in smoking and most likely spending his career working in a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.  Lots of cool things to breathe in there.

Anyway, it’s apparently NOT a genetic cancer.  And that’s the good news.  Not like it’s going to keep popping back up if he takes better care of his acid reflex.  And it can be cured with chemo and surgery.  Another good news.

The bad news is that because this form of cancer exactly mimics having heartburn or acid reflux, most people don’t think anything more of it after taking an antacid or Pepto and going about their day.  Until it’s basically too late.  This is one of the rare forms of cancer that is not genetic, completely treatable, low rate of return and yet a very high rate of death.  Because most people don’t know they have it until it’s too late.

Thankfully, my Dad went to see a doctor after having issues with weight loss, extreme tiredness and difficulties swallowing.  They found he had a low B-12 and white blood cells.  So, they gave him a treatment and shot and sent him home after running a plethora of tests.  One week later we got the results.

And now he’s been on a course of chemo with a stint in his chest to allow a 24/7 drip of that poison into his body for the last eight weeks.  In four weeks, he’ll go in for surgery to remove the mass, which is smaller now and operable.  Four weeks after that he’ll go back on the eight week chemo course to be doubly sure.

The Doctor and Surgeon both gave my Dad a very high rate of survival and cure.

I could breathe again.

All the way in India.

While he was in the US.

Too far.

Anyway, this then, will be when the healing will begin.  The hair will start to return.  The thrush will stop reoccurring.  The tiredness and the yoyo emotions.

And I’ll have my happy-go-lucky Dad back again.  Full of naughtiness and sparkle.  But for now, I am his naughtiness.  I am his sparkle.  Me and his friends and all the people who step in to keep him smiling.

For someone with Cancer, the road is long and hard.  You have all the fear that is associated with the word Cancer plus all the benefits of its side effects.  You watch the faces of those around you for tension or fear and pretend you see it even if you don’t.  You struggle to remain who you were before and become frustrated with a body that just can’t keep up.

For the rest of us, living outside of that, we watch.  We pray.  We cry privately.  We make wishes on stars.  We negotiate with God.  We make promises we aren’t sure we can keep but we’re going to try anyway.

And we all live life.

For more information on Cancer, go to http://www.cancer.gov.  (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/esophageal)

A New Beginning! Welcome to India :)

Well people, here I am….India.  It’s taken a long time, there’s been a lot of tension and frustration and nervousness and joy and giddiness and laughing….but finally I am living in India.

And finally I am having the time to sit down and write a blog to you all.  But so much has happened since I last wrote that I’m thinking you will have to sit down and be prepared to read for the next 3-4 hours!  😉

Where to begin…..where to begin?

Let’s start where I left off.  California…

I finally realized that I just was not going to be able to sell the entire amount I wanted to sell.  Some of the big ticket stuff just wasn’t going.  Whether it was because of the economy or the time of year…people just were not buying.  I sold my big screen TV and the accompanying items (surround sound, DVD player, VCR and TV stand).  I also sold my recliner chairs and two smaller TV’s as well as my computer and monitor.  A few other small household items got sold, but other than that….nothing.  My frig didn’t sell, my gorgeous grill, the bed, the armoire, the large DVD case and my car.  None of it sold.  Well, my car DID sell at the last moment.  I got the lender to take the car back as payment because the car was worth more than my loan.  So I essentially “sold” my car to my lender without repercussions.  I tell you what, if we ever go back to the states, I’m going with that lender again….they are an AMAZING company that know the meaning of taking care of their customers.  Thankfully, the big screen TV sold for my asking price and THAT paid for my personal items to be shipped to India.  YAY.

Leaving my apartment was a bit of a chore, they had fired the office manager that I had become close with and the new staff was rude and truculent.  I enjoyed leaving the apartment less than clean (which if you know me, you know that’s a HUGE deal….I’m a clean/neat weirdo which is a step below freak).

Then finally the day came and we were off, flying from California to my hometown on the east coast to visit my family for 5 days.  It was wonderful!  The weather was just starting to get cold, the leaves were changing, it rained a little bit and it was still green.  I miss home more now than I ever thought I would.  Growing up I hated my hometown.  So small.  So out-of-touch.  So blinded.  Now I see it as it really is…a bustling community full of good people and interesting things.  My Dad drove us around and showed us the new High School and some other new developments as well as all the new technology based businesses (I think to show off the ‘burg to Bear in the hopes of getting him to fall in love with it and want to move there).  My Mom took us on hay rides and corn mazes and to a pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins for carving.  It was Bear’s first time carving a pumpkin and you should have seen his face as he scooped out the “innards” with his hands!  Mom and I were dying with laughter.

 

Our Halloween Pumpkins!

 

 

Then it was off to the north to visit Bear’s brother and family for 3 days during Diwali.  That was a wonderful visit too and I wish it had been longer.   I was a little nervous about meeting my new Sister-in-law for the first time…but I was excited too as she was (in my eyes) part of the reason why everything came together as smoothly as it did.  Meeting her was like meeting a long lost friend.  She is a lovely, sensitive and caring person with a flair for the dramatic!  We had so much fun together!  Their daughters were lovely and the eldest was completely enamored with her Uncle Bear.  She pulled on him and climbed on him and did her best to always have his attention.  Poor Bear hasn’t been given that kind of treatment in a long time and needless to say he was exhausted by the time we left.

The flight to India was long and fairly uneventful.  I watched three movies back to back.  I slept.  I ate.  I slept some more.  We did wind up with some annoying seatmates….a group of Swedish women (6 total) were flying to Brussels together and we had two beside us and four behind us.  They were loud and didn’t seem to fit into their seats very well as they were constantly banging into ours.  There were also two very young children in our section of the plane and every time the cabin pressure changed, they screamed holy terror….which got the dog in the back compartment barking, which in turn made the baby in same section cry.  At one point, I had been given an Orange Juice in a flight container (you know the ones with the peel back tin foil “lid”?) and it turned out to be leaking from somewhere on the plastic section of the “cup”.  I tried to hand it to a stewardess that was going around with a tray but she refused to take it saying that the tray was only for pencils and paper.  I asked her if she could come back for it as the fasten seat belt sign was on and she said she would.  I sat there, with that thing leaking all over my hand, shirt cuff and part of my slacks because even though I tried to hold it out over the aisle, occasionally we would hit turbulence and my hand would get shifted over.  After about 15 minutes, I finally got sick of it, unbuckled my belt, stood up and started walking back towards the bathroom…where I was met by the same stewardess telling me to go back to my seat.  I tried to nicely explain to her that I needed to throw that away and that it was leaking on me but she rudely interrupted me and said “Ma’am, I told you I would be coming back and I will, now please take your seat!”, to which I replied “I will NOT be taking my seat until YOU are taking this leaky container!” and she continued to try and argue with me.  So I finally interrupted her and said…loudly… “EXCUSE ME, I will now keep this container AND not wash the OJ from my hands, shirt or pants and once we land I will go to YOUR superiors and ask them why I was forced to remain this way because YOU Smita ( I read her nametag) refused to take GARGAGE from a paying PASSENGER!”  And then I turned around and walked away.  Please understand I had been nice to this lady the entire flight.  Every time she served me food or drink, I always said “Please” and “Thank you” and I always smiled at her.  I tried to help as much as possible by not making a mess or being a pain in the butt.  And yet this stewardess continued to frown and have a cold attitude the entire flight.  So I had pretty much had it by that point and really…who likes having sticky fingers and wet clothes?  So, I went back to my seat, wrapped the container in a plastic bag holding a magazine, put that in an air sick bag and then placed it under my chair.  By the time I was done with that, the head stewardess came over and apologized profusely.  I explained what happened, the people around me chipped in and agreed that she had been rude throughout the flight and basically….we never saw prune face again the rest of the flight.  YAY for flyer solidarity!  LOL

One other thing to remember, we had left a VERY cold region in US…so we were still bundled up in a lot of clothes when we landed in Mumbai…where it was VERY hot.  Even at night.  Bear didn’t have time to take off his sweatshirt or to pack up his scarf so he was forced to wear it.  We got inside the airport, and then had to walk through a H1N1 screening line.  Where they had a thermal imager.  Which Bear failed.  His body temperature was very high so he got pulled out of line to be screened by a doctor and have his temperature taken.  This delayed us almost two hours as the line had been long to begin with.  Meanwhile, Bear’s Dad was waiting for us outside and we had no way of calling him to let him know we were ok and coming….because neither of us had a cell that worked in India at that point.  LOL.

Finally we made it out, where I met my new Father-in-law for the first time.  I was TERRIFIED!  LOL.  But he was so wonderfully sweet and had brought flowers for me.  I bowed, placed my hands together, said “Namaste Baba” and pent to touch his feet.  I think that pleased him…he smiled at me and touched my head.

Then it was a long drive back to his parent’s house.  I was again nervous and anxious.   Baba speaks English but Aai speaks very little (having no reason to use it over the years).  Ajoba (grandfather) speaks no English at all and he was waiting at the house with Aai.  Plus, it was around 1am, so I was exhausted.

But you know what?  All that worrying and being nervous was really for nothing.  Aai and Ajoba greeted me just like my own family would after a long separation.  They were truly happy to see me.  I did the same for Aai and Ajoba and got the same smiles and head touch in return.  Aai happily served us all of Bear’s favorite foods that she could pack into a late night supper.  Then they shuttled us off to bed and that was that.  We spent one day with them and on the next day, they came with us to our hometown which is a three to four hour drive from Mumbai.  We stopped to view their retirement flat in a hill station, and it was truly lovely and peaceful, you could see how happy and excited they were about it.  Once here, Aai and Baba did everything in their power to make sure that Bear and I were settled and comfortable with all the household items we would need to make a start.  Aai thought of the items that I never would and I was delighted to find that her taste and mine exactly matched.  I love each and every thing she and Baba purchased for Bear and I.  We all had fun talking and getting to know each other.  They were impressed with my “cleaning” skills and happy to see that I knew quite a lot about Indian food already.  Aai would giggle over my pronunciation of certain foods but she would also ask the English word for them.  Baba would hover over us and explain anything to me that he thought I didn’t first understand from Aai.

They stayed with us for four days, as Bear had to go to work and they didn’t want me to be alone that soon after coming to a new place.  Anything I needed, Baba was quick to run out and get for me.  All too soon it was time for them to leave and I was truly sad.  I loved having Baba and Aai with us.

For two weeks everything was fine.  I rode around on the back of my husband’s motorcycle or in the back of our friends car and we shopped for curtains and bed spreads and pillows and curtain rods and refrigerators and DVD/Surround sound players.  It was a thrilling and new experience.  I had a great time joining my husband in the art of “negotiating” a better price.  I played innocent or hardnosed depending on the situation and we got the deals we wanted along with free delivery.  😉

And then one day, while out shopping, we realized that it was very late and that we were both starving.  So we stopped at a restaurant to eat and I forgot myself and ate curd and drank the water.  And that was the last day that I felt well.  The next day I began getting ill and then progressively got worse and worse.  I was in the bathroom more than I was out.  I took a medicine to stop all the constant bathroom going but not being used to the Indian medicines, it over-reacted in my system and cause more damage than good.  I became worse and Bear had to take me to the hospital twice.  The pain was horrible and constant for nearly 10 days.  I was sick a total of two and a half weeks.  THIS is the first week that I am actually feeling better.  I’ve been on a diet of fruits, warm water (filtered and boiled first), Gatorade, plain green Dahl, unbuttered Roti and PB&J sandwiches for the ENTIRE time!  ME!  A lover of food…stuck to a limited and mostly tasteless diet.  It’s been torture.  During the worst of it, Bear’s parents came again because he was not able to take off from work to care for me and I couldn’t be left alone during the day.  Also, they were too concerned to sit at home worrying over me anymore.  So they came and stayed with us for a week.  Aai cooked all the food and prepared my special diet for me (and it tasted so much better when she made it!).  Baba encouraged me and every day told me I was looking better and not to worry, “tomorrow you will feel better!”   They cared for me like I was their own child; they hovered and asked how I was always.  Having them here with us took away my fears and truly did make me feel better.  By the time they left, I was on the mend and able to get up and do a few things around the house.  I believe that if it hadn’t been for Baba and Aai coming and staying with us, I would have been sicker for longer.  Not just because of the care and medicine that they made sure I had, it was the love and happiness they gave me.  That kept me from falling into a depression.  It kept me hopeful.  I truly am a very lucky girl to have such wonderful new parents and such a loving and caring new family.

And let’s not forget my poor Bear during all of this.  Forced to deal with a horrid little man as a Project Lead, Bear wound up working his butt of during the day, calling constantly to see how I was, running home at lunch to feed me or bring me medicines or to just check on me, working hard so he could leave on time, fighting traffic to come home at a bad hour to find me just as sick and to be worried and have to cook for himself and me or to run to get more medicines or help me out of bed or back into bed.  When his parents were here, the only thing he no longer had to do was cook, but he still worked his tail off.  My poor, dear sweet Bear was so worried and concerned over me during this time.  I am equally blessed to have such a husband.

And now, this week, I am feeling better.  Well enough to do the cooking for us both….even though it’s still separate meals.  One for him and one for me.  I went to a friend’s marriage this weekend and even though I was exhausted afterwards, I did not get sick to my stomach again.

And so now, dear blog readers….you are all caught up on my life so far and I can start writing again about the traditions, the expectations, the cultural differences, and all manner of things.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and that you come back again to hear my opinions and perceptions.  I’m sorry it’s been so long, but I hope now you see why it’s been so long.

In the mean time, you all take care and we’ll “talk” real soon!  😉

Bhabhi Made It Better….

Swinging Sisters

Swinging Sisters

When I first started researching the issues that Bear and I would face as an Intercultural couple, I learned many things.  Most of all the resistance that his family would have to such a union.  The resistance could range from all out war, to something more of a simple disapproval.  So many blogs advised that the best thing we could do was seek the assistance of an elder in the family who approved or at the very least understood and wanted to help get approval from his parents.

And for the most part this is still very good advice.  The only problem with this is that the elder generation in India is not always going to be so approving.

At the time, when we were trying to decide who best to enlist to help us, we were thinking about who Bear felt the most comfortable with talking about his feelings or issues.  And this is still valid.  But we kind of stopped there.  We did take into consideration that this person should also be open to it, but we didn’t delve into that chosen person’s personality to make a more informed decision as to whether they would be able to accept our rather odd union (or odd by Indian standards being that I’m older than Bear).

So we went to Bear’s Grandfather on his Father’s side.  Mainly because Bear felt the closest to him, he felt that he could tell his Grandfather anything and his Grandfather would listen and try to help.  And for the most part he was right…until Grandfather learned of our age difference.  And that is where everything fell apart.

You see, the younger generation of India is a bit more receptive and open to these things than the older generation.  I had thought that it wasn’t necessarily about the generation but more about experience of seeing the world and living in it.  I thought that Grandfather would see that age doesn’t matter, it’s a person’s values and the strength of the relationship that do.  And to some extent he does, but he couldn’t get past that tradition of the man being younger and this was our downfall.

After that, relations with the entire family became strained to the point that no one was willing to listen to Bear.  Even his brother, whom he was once close to as children, was opposed and sided with the family.

And then one day, Bhabhi (this means brother’s wife in Urdu – a dialect of Hindi – in this case it is Bear’s brother’s wife) called me on behalf of the family and tried to talk me out of marrying Bear.  I took it in stride, expressed my sorrow at the family’s pain and my role in it, but reaffirmed that I had made a promise to Bear and to God to stand by him and that I never break my promises.  Every question she asked me, I answered with respect.  We debated for two hours.  And every time, my answer was the same.  After the call, I was emotionally drained and not sure how to take the call.  I had only Bear’s perceptions of Bhabhi to go on.

I had always tried to explain to him that perhaps he didn’t know the whole story, but he is his parent’s son and we are all protective of our own family.  So while he cared for and liked Bhabhi, there were some small hard feelings for her too.  I wasn’t sure what the good was by talking to her, but my feeling always has been that talking is the best thing to do in any situation.

And then Bhabhi called me again two days later when her husband was at work and Bear was gone.  And we talked some more.  And two days later we talked again.  And then I called her the day after that.  Bhabhi and I slowly started getting to know each other and realizing that we had similar thoughts on certain topics.  Our feelings were the same.  Our values.  Our love of laughing.  I found myself liking Bhabhi very much and for the first time in my life, I started to become excited about having a sister of my very own (after having 5 overprotective and stinky brother’s who would pester and pick on me unmercifully…the brats).

And then Aai (this means Mother in Marathi – in this case it is Bear’s mother) became unwell.  This happened the day before yesterday, urgent calls were made by Bear’s brother telling him that Aai’s failing health was Bear’s fault.  Bhau’s (Bhau means brother – in this case it is Bear’s brother) reaction was understandable.  He was feeling torn between the parents who he wanted to respect and the brother that he wanted to help and couldn’t.  He’s also stuck here in the US on a contract with a new child and could not go home to help his mother or father the way he wanted to.  His frustration and fear for his mother’s health reached a breaking point and he and Bear argued terribly yesterday morning.  Bear then asked me to call Bhabhi and check on Aai’s health.  So I did and Bhabhi and I talked and talked and both of us were frustrated and feeling sad and fore lone.

And at one point, out of sheer frustration and fear and exhaustion and stress, I broke down and cried to her.  “Bhabhi, I don’t know what to do!  I made him a promise I cannot break but I don’t want Aai this sick either!!  What am I going to do?”  And I cried and cried as if it had been welling in me for months and finally had a release.  And Bhabhi kept saying “Relax Aurora sweety, please do not cry, I am here, please do not cry”.

Eventually it stopped and I apologized to her for my outburst and told her that I hated that she was stuck in this position with every one coming to her bursting with their emotions when she should be the one being taken care of and loved (she just had her youngest daughter less than two weeks ago).  She told me that she is here for all of us and never feel like I cannot cry to her; she is here for me for whatever may happen.  And that was the end of the call.  I spent the rest of the day feeling lost.

What to do?

So Bear and I decided that no matter what, we were staying together.  We discussed the problems that were arising and the things that were being said and the possible outcome of our continuing to marry.  We decided that we were stronger together and happier.  We really can’t live without one another now…he breathes and I exhale…we are so close.  And then we prayed for Aai’s health.

We both spent the day a little depressed and worried.

And then, late last night, Bear received another phone call from his brother.  His brother asked him if he would be willing to speak with Bhabhi (brother’s wife remember?) and Bear agreed.

And this is where things began to change.

Bhabhi listened to Bear.  She discussed things with him.  They had an honest to goodness real conversation.  Bhabhi talked TO him instead of AT him.  And Bear realized that Bhabhi was the one person (and perhaps by extension – his brother as well) that understood best what it was he was going through.  And he learned that she felt that his relationship with me was not the horror that everyone was making it out to be.  Bhabhi had experienced American culture, had American friends, and had worked with Americans.  She saw us for what we are…diverse and sometimes crazy but also very loving with our own set of traditions just as worthy – if different – from India.  Bear’s perception of Bhabhi began to change; he began to see her in a way he hadn’t seen before.  He began to understand that she may have faced similar issues when marrying into his family, that only being in our situation now he could understand better where she had been coming from.  Bhabhi became our Soldier of Good Fortune in this war and Bhabhi essentially saved us all.

Yes, you read that right.  After talking to Bear and finally understanding what the whole family was hearing from Bear for 8 months but not LISTENING too, Bhabhi then explained it to her husband in a way HE could understand and accept.  And then HE called and talked to Bear’s father in a way that Baba (this means Father in Marathi) could understand.

And so it was that this morning, we got a call separately.  Bear from his brother and I from Bhabhi, telling us that Baba accepts our marriage.  He will talk to and get the acceptance from Aai.  Everyone now feels who cares what others say as long as we are happy?  And to them Bear’s happiness is THEIR happiness.

Bhabhi and I agreed we are both the best things that could ever happen to this family.  We will make them stronger, healthier and happier in their lives.  We will show them the love that they need and the happiness that comes from laughter and being together.  We promised each other to always work together and never give up; in helping this family become more open to one another.  In learning how to talk to one another.

But ultimately, it was Bhabhi all along who was the saving grace.  And even though she doesn’t know about this blog, I wanted the world to know what a wonderful sister I am going to have.

I’ve already told her myself.

Love to you all!!!!!  I am so HAPPY!!!!!!!!!

More to come….till then….remain happy, healthy and wise!

Best,

Aurora

You’re in the midst of a war…

Milgrain design wedding band

Milgrain design wedding band

I finally get a few moments to write another quick blog to update you all on the progress of the Wedding.

You’re in the midst of a war: a battle between the limits of a crowd seeking the surrender of your dreams, and the power of your true vision to create and contribute. It is a fight between those who will tell you what you cannot do, and that part of you that knows / and has always known / that we are more than our environment; and that a dream, backed by an unrelenting will to attain it, is truly a reality with an imminent arrival.”   Anthony Robbins quotes

Ok, so I’m not much for the self helper types but this quote by Anthony Robbins perfectly fits with my present situation.

So does…

“All hands on deck!  Battle stations!  Mr. Chekov, all power to front deflector fields!”

Eh…I’m a techie nerd.

So, here’s the skinny.

Sunday, Bear and I finally got a chance to go and get our wedding rings.  We found the perfect set at Robbins Brothers.  I can’t post a picture of them here as they are still at the store being sized and engraved.  We chose yellow gold comfort fit bands.  Mine is plain and his has the milgrain design on the top and bottom of the ring (I liked the milgrain design but it didn’t look nice on my hand while it looked perfect on his).  The rings are wide enough to allow us to insert diamonds later, which we will do on our first year anniversary.  It made me so happy to complete that stage of our wedding journey!

After that, we went to Mandir (which is a Hindu Temple in Irvine) and offered our wedding invitation to Lord Ganesha (he is the Hindu God with the Elephant head, read more about him at the link).  Ganesha is the God who is known best as the Remover of all Obstacles and in the Hindu religion he is the one prayed to before starting any important ceremony.  We also spoke with the Pundit there about the issue of our marriage occurring during what is generally to be considered an inauspicious time frame.  Hindu’s do not generally marry during the months of July, August and September.  The Pundit checked and found that between the hours of 9am and 12pm on August 9th (the day of our wedding, and the exact time no less) it was an auspicious time and that if the Jai Mala (the exchange of garlands) was performed before 10:30am it was even better.

Because we are marrying with Arya Samaj and their belief was that every day was a good day because God created every day…they were more than happy to work with whatever we needed.  So, Sunday evening we went for temple with Arya Samaj and after services we spoke with the elders and the Pundit of Arya Samaj and planned the wedding with them.  They were able to help us decide where best to set up everything and which ceremony should be performed and who in the family could help perform it.  I’ll write on the actual ceremony and the services we will be doing in another blog.

And then Sunday night, on our way home, Bear got an email on his Blackberry….from his father….addressed to us both.  Finally I was being recognized by the family!!

Upon reaching home, I found that he had also cc’ed me at my personal email address.  So I set down to read it.  And read it.  And read it.  It was quite long.  It also said all the same things that they’ve been saying all along.  He listed all the reasons why I should not go through with marrying their son.  Except this time he was more specific.  And it was because of his specifics that I realized that they truly do not know anything about who I am as a person or what I know of their culture.  Even though in the early days Bear told them all of the things they questioned.  I know he did because I was there for nearly every conversation and we would discuss it before hand and afterwards.  What to say and not say that sort of thing.  And yet still I find that they were not listening.  Which, to be quite honest, is perfectly normal.  If you are listening to something that you don’t want to hear, you do not absorb it.  That is human nature.

So I took a full day to consider how I wanted to respond to them.  This was my opportunity to let them know who their future daughter in law was.  The problem was how to do it.  Do I write an email the way I normally would write to anyone older to me in the US?  Or do I tone it down?  Or do I write the way I would write to my Grandparents generation?  What to do?  I’m generally a very open and decided person when I write.  I speak the truth, I sometimes deflect it a bit, soften it if you will, by giving examples but the truth is still there and still powerful.  Could I do that with them?  Could I write something that essentially would be pointing to them the truth while still being respectful?

I found that I could and did.

I wrote what amounted to a five page email.  I answered all their questions.  I explained pieces of who I am as a person.  What I know of the Indian Culture.  What I know I will have to face in the future.  What I intend to do about problems or issues that may arise due to our differences and life living in India.  I told the truth.  Never once did I point a finger at them, or accuse them, or tell them “Hey, this wouldn’t be such a huge issue if you had listened a little more carefully previously or been a little more open”.

But I wanted to write that sentence.  Ohhhhhh how I wanted to write some version of that sentence.  Because that is also the truth.  But I feel that in some small way, I did point that out by expressing myself the way that I did.  Here is an excerpt from that letter….

When his father questioned me on my decision to marry Bear, I answered that it was a joint decision not mine alone.  When he further questioned me on people accepting me, I answered with this….

” My father once told me that I must be responsible for every action or non action I take in life.  It was because of his guidance and that of the elders in my family and our community that I learned that my decisions will affect more than just myself.  I was also taught that one can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time.  The great difficulty is knowing when and where to draw the line.”

Thank you Abraham Lincoln.  😉

They also requested me, again, to end this relationship.  That they were concerned for my future as well as Bear’s.  That they were willing to speak to my parents on my behalf to explain to them the issues I would face so that everyone would understand why we were no longer marrying.

And I responded with this…

“I wish I could tell you that I will make all your fears and pains go away by not marrying “Bear”, but I cannot do that.  I made a promise to your son and a promise to God to be with him always.  I never break my promises and because of this I never give them lightly.  I hope that you can understand and respect that.”

I further went on to ask them one favor, to please give me a chance.  To get to know me, the person that I am and see if having me as a daughter would be as bad as what they believed.  I asked them to trust that their son’s decision to give me as a daughter to them was a good one.  I asked them to open their hearts to me and let me show them how much I could love, care for and protect them.

And once I had read my letter to Bear and he also felt that I had said nothing disrespectful or hurtful to his family (because I wanted his opinion on that), I sent that email off.

And so now I wait.  To see if they respond again or if they contact Bear.  I don’t know what the future holds.  I know that the percentages say that they will eventually come around…after the marriage.  It’s a shame…I wish they could be a part of this day.  I know that Bear wants it with all of his heart and this is hurting him, his family’s distrust of his values, morals and intellect.

But I’m doing everything I can to protect him too.  I keep reminding him that it’s not truly that they distrust him, it’s that they distrust the situation.

Hopefully someday very soon, they no longer will be sad and hurt to have me as their daughter.  Hopefully someday very soon, I can call myself lucky to have such a large family by including his into it.

Until that day comes, I wait.

Now I’m off to address wedding invitations.  YAY for me!