In Part I of this posting, I mentioned the visits I made to family and friends. My list includes the visits to the gravesides of paternal and maternal grandparents and great-grandparents, and great-aunts and uncles. In our custom, even though they are gone, our elders are always with us in our hearts. We pray to them regularly and offer prayers on their death anniversaries either graveside or in church.
I would like to take a moment to explain the value of the blessings from your elders. As a grandchild born into any family, there are great hopes attached to you. Along with these hopes, are the blessings of your elders for your prosperity in life and family. I did not understand the value of these blessings until I lost my last grandparent but I think of it often now. When you have your elders with you, you learn about your parents and their lives growing up. You learn about who they were and who you were as you grew. Sometimes you learn that you have always been spunky and funny or that you were always serious. I learned that I was always curious, always had an answer for every question, and wanted to explore everything.
Since I was born in India, I was the only one of my siblings who knew my grandparents and great-grandparents. I have memories of them during my short time in India before moving to the United States. Over the years, we lost these elders one by one. In 2012, my remaining grandmother passed away about a month after my sister’s son, Jonathan, was born. I was quite surprised how keenly I felt that loss. It’s actually not that surprising when you consider that I was with her for two years when my Mom first moved to the United States. A day later, Jonathan’s paternal great-grandmother passed away, also in India. This little boy, who is a pride and jewel of our family and at that time, the only grandchild of my parents, lost two of his elders without receiving their blessings and love. Unfortunately, Jonathan’s paternal grandfather had also passed away many years ago, so he started out with only three grandparents.
None of those who have passed will ever get to hold him or whisper their love to him. Now Jonathan is almost five and he has a sister and a cousin-sister through my brother and his wife. None of these children will ever get the direct blessings of the elders who have passed. The next best thing is to learn about these elders from those who remember them. Unfortunately, small children cannot fathom the enormity of this loss but in their hopeful way, they can reflect the blessings, love, and prosperity that we all look for. The rest of us who are with the children can offer them the unconditional love and blessings they would have received. I also think it’s possible to pray to those whom we have lost and tell them about the children who are in our family now. I would like to believe that all the elders we have lost can see how their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are growing and send their blessings to them anyway.