'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menosukhi; The Elder Side

Regular readers will have gathered that the YAMster leaves the Hutch on a regular basis to visit the father in Edinburgh. By that, it is meant an average of once every fourth week or so. His body betrays him with the onward progression of Parkinson's, but the character remains strong and engaging. I don't say that I am going to 'check up', but always have something which takes me there, be it an exhibition, a concert or some such. That dad benefits from home cooking, general help and company is incidental.

Father was never a conversationalist. It can sometimes be like drawing blood from a stone, to have anything more than a few syllables uttered. However, he has his moments and I seem to be getting better at pinpointing them, finding the crack in the window, as it were.

When I was over the first weekend of May, we shared quite a bit of common interest. Not least the World Championship Snooker, on which we are both keen. Television pretty much dominates his days (and nights) whilst sleep over-rides even that. Finding something we are both genuinely interested in and can talk about can be tricky. There can be no denying that he has had some difficulty adjusting to the elder daughter who has spent most of her adult life on the other side of the globe and who has a radically different worldview. For my part, I have kept the spirito-philosophical side as low-key as possible, but that's a double-edged sword, for that is such a large part of who I am, and it dawned on me quite recently that he actually needs to see that more openly.

This year, when he has uttered things in response to news items which could be construed as bigotry or prejudice, I made the decision to offer my view on whatever matter as a counterpoint. This has brought on some quite decent exchanges and even revealed some snippets of history which filled in gaps. Not least, last week, when there was a television debate asking the question, "is masculinity in crisis?"... There was a jolly good discussion in the Mac Clan hoose let me tell ya! What it has done is help me to widen appreciation of my own elder and his thought processes, as well as reveal to him that the elder daughter is rather longer and deeper within than her squat, broad exterior might suggest!

Another advance in our relationship on these stays has been my finding things to prepare for evening meals which suit my dietary requirements but that he can also enjoy; until this year it has been a case of two different dishes, quite often.

However, I introduced him to soy 'mince' last month and it was a hit! Testing the waters further at Ramnavami, I made yellow-pea dal and shakarkhand-poori and he actually took second helpings. This last visit I made a different type of dal, with moong beans, and it was again supped and seconds requested. Woohoo!

I do know that there is some resistance to the discipline of timings and hygiene which come with having me there, but there is also the reluctant appreciation of assistance (he's getting better at asking, sort of) and there is definitely Love.

To see one's elders for who they are, and not just as ma or pa, requires that one is reasonably 'grown up' and have detached to a degree. Then, seeing them, we need to see it in ourselves. Whether by nature or nurture, we will inevitably reflect something of them. As one becomes the elder oneself, this becomes ever more apparent. Somehow, from this most recent visit, I have a clearer picture of which parts of me are definitely out of the father and his influence upon my personality. Equally, even in her absence, it is ever more evident which parts of me are my mother and her influence. This delights and frustrates in equal measure, but is also owned as well as tempered with the individual that is YAM.

In this, the closing year of my sixth decade and as vanaprastha (preparation for the forest) approaches, I embrace the elder side of my being.


PS - if anyone is at all interested, this is a well put-together article broaching the ongoing subject of 'masculinity in crisis'. Not the be-all-end-all, but balanced and relevant, I feel.

11 comments:

  1. YaYa it must be something to do with the age in which our Dad's were raised. Daddy would have been 88 this year.
    He was raised during the depression only son with 3 sisters. He had to grow up fast. At 11 he was working every morning before school and after. He delivered a news paper he called The Grit in the am and and groceries in the afternoon. At 16 he became an electrical apprentice his dad's health was declining so he had to work full time to help the family. He had to be tough and was quite opinionated too. As I grew I noticed the prejudices were ingrained as his parents were too. His work ethic paid off he owned his own electrical business. I will say he mellowed quite a bit the last 5 years or so. He was not well and needed help which was hard for him.
    Give Father hugs from us next time you visit.
    Cecilia

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    1. Hari oM
      Oh, that is a lovely potted history of your dad, Ce... father is 83 next month, so only five years between them and you are so right about the demographic! I will convey the hugs - he's slightly bemused (or ought that to be nonplussed?) at appearing from time to time on the bloggy! Yxx

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  2. i am glad toy and your father have found some new common ground. My father is cleaning out some items from his house and he found a textbook that belonged to his father. It stated very clearly that their is a superior race. While I was frustrated with some of my grandparents limited views, know what they were taught helps me understand. I am sure their are things I currently believe that my niece and nephew are going to see as limited! I hope I can continue to change my own beliefs as I go!

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  3. Becoming the "responsible" adult in a situation can be an unexpected passage, for all parties. It's easier to accept and do than to be querulous and fight. My best to you and dad. xxoo

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  4. I remember my father well he was quiet and not outspoken on these subjects but my mum was much older than him and they had a very loving relationship and maybe a lot more equal than was common at that time.
    Merle.......

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  5. Such a nice post here today. It must be good to feel that you can share yourself with your father in different ways now. There is also that fine line between being the child and caring for the aging parent. Having shared our home with my mother for 18 years when she could no longer live in her own home, along with a husband and three young children, I know that path very well. Lots of ups and downs, but lots of great memories too.

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  6. it's great that you can talk with your father this way... I think I need a while before we are at this level... it#s still the mama and the papa :O)))

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  7. i smiled at some of the comments, as in the one about bigotry and prejucice. my dad would be 105, born in 1913 when men were men and king of the household and bigotry and prejudice were common... I enjoyed your thoughts and would love to have seen what my dad would do if served these meals. he was meat and potatoes.. he had Parkinsons also and died in 2006 just before he turned 93

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  8. It seems there are always gaps between the generations, and understanding them does require history, both of the parent and of the times in which they lived their younger lives. Thanks for sharing about your dad.

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  9. Being an adult in the presence of our parents can be a challenge. The change is so worth it.

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  10. This is such an issue, isn't it? I have a hard time with my client, somedays. She get so angry with her caregiver daughter. I come home drained.

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