A few days ago,I met a person in his nineties,very old.He was my husband’s grandfather.And that experience was life changing.It was indelible.It has opened for me a new perspective of life,something I had never reflected on before.
As I write this, he has already left for his heavenly abode.
I had never before seen closely a person so very aged.He was almost a baby in every aspect.He did not know,did not recognize anybody,even his own wife,sons and daughters. He looked on us amazingly as if we were puppets dancing to some rhythm.
Maybe he did not even know he was human and others around him belonged to the same race.The faces of the family that floated around him all day seemed just familiar and he stared at any newcomer for a moment then smiled.Very similar to a baby who knew mom and dad bcoz of familiarity and judged a new entrant for a while before smiling.
All he knew was to open his mouth when a hand reached near it, in anticipation of food as a baby does when something touches its lips.He was on adult diapers all the time.He did not know when to move his body,if he happened to sit with his weight on one hand, he would be like that and blood would accumulate in those blood vessels in his hand.His skin was so clear and thin,so fragile,so vulnerable that the least rough touch/object could peel it off.He was amused and attracted by my kid’s running about as if he were a battery operated toy.He chewed(with his gums) on the medicine tablets instead of gulping down with water.
This man was on the verge of completion of nature’s full circle- beginning as an infant and ending being one.This man in his prime must have been the life of gatherings, would have commanded attention and respect. He must have minded every crease of his shirt.He would have minded the number of spoons of sugar in his tea.Now he is oblivious of his own body’s needs and waste.
The only thing he knew was to smile,pleasantly.
How do you feel when an unknown infant smiles at you in a train or market?
Doesnt that toothless smile make your heart bloom like a flower for a moment?
This was what his smile was, totally transparent, selfless, a source of joy.
How was his face so excruciatingly magnificient, so celestial , instilling faith in life and goodness?It was surely because of the person he had been.
His face revealed the life he had lived,one filled with love and warmth.It oozed out glory and content and warmth.No regrets,no grudges, no expectations.A mirror of his eternal flawless soul.
At that stage of life, each single thing is erased, all remains is the expression on the countenance.The lines carved on the face remain.These lines speak volumes of the personality you have been.There could be frown lines on the forehead, revealing a life spent worrying or complaining.Or there could be lines of smile which make the face a joy to behold.These lines set in the same way as your footprint in the porch of your house if you stepped on it when it was being cemented, when the cement was till wet.
One can never know if he/she would live upto that stage.One cannot control the longevity or brevity of life.But one can control the lines that would set in,that would be there in the last moment.