Recently, I had to attend one of my relative’s funeral. The lady, in her 60s, had succumbed to protracted chronic diseases. It was only two years ago that I attended the funeral of her younger sister, who passed away in similar circumstances, to the same kind of ailments.
It seemed unfair. The sisters left behind, besides their families, two brothers and their octogenarian mother. Life had not been kind to the grieving mother, now stooped with age. Her husband passed away many years ago, leaving the young widow to fend for herself. Through grit, courage and unwavering faith in God, she stood up to the challenge of rearing her four children, hardly teenagers back then. The four grew up into fine people, who were understandably attached to their mother, and among themselves, forming a well-knit family.
Extended relatives expected the passing away of her two daughters within two years to be too tragic for the aged mother to bear. Everybody feared for her. She had her share of ailments for an octogenarian. She surprised everyone who attended the funeral with her equanimity. Seated beside the lifeless body of her oldest daughter, she received greetings and comforting gestures from the mourners with a brave face. She occasionally did shed a tear or two when people close to her came up to meet her. I sat beside her, my arm around her shoulder. She narrated to me, through a wavering voice, the ordeal her daughter had to put up with, and comforted herself by clutching onto silver linings—her daughter had put up with her ailments patiently, helped greatly by her ever-supportive husband. Considering her ailments, she could have been bedridden or have languished in the ICU, hooked to the ventilator and dialysis machine for many days. She had a peaceful death. She was now free of the sufferings caused by her ailments.
The aged mother, with admirable courage and grit, chose to count her blessings when her world lay shattered. As the deceased’s daughters wept inconsolably, and her husband, not in his best health, looked distraught, her mother in her eighties, to whom life had been a struggle ever since being widowed, stood like a rock among the ruins. It seemed God, on whom she had counted on all those tough years, seemed to endow her with tremendous strength. On my way back home, I marvelled at the rare strength and poise of the aged mother. She, to me, was an epitome of calm amidst the raging storm.