Let's take a moment to reminisce on what some of them really did to us, how we are a better person because of these individuals, what lessons we learnt from them, what we would have lacked if not for them, etc.
Hope you will all join me in sharing about your influential elders. This will help us become influential too... The email address to send your post is email@example.com. The posts will be published on a first come first served basis.
Aunty loved Mom and Mom loved Aunty. They shared great respect for each other, calling each other by proper names with qualifiers such as Mrs. Yohapushpam Livingston & Mrs. Grace Alexander. Even during their conversations it didn't seem to bother them to use these long names to address each other. If Papa was home he too would join their conversation. Oh! how I loved to watch them talk for hours - but then Aunty would politely send me away to do my home work or chores and when I don't get her hint, she would insist lovingly, "It is not good manners for little girls to listen to big people's conversation"."But I love to hear you talk Aunty" would be my unspoken response as I reluctantly walk away...
Later Aunty became very sick and passed away shortly after. I could sense a great part of my Mom was gone with her. Hard to believe it has been twenty years since then, but Aunty is still much loved and often remembered. I am grateful to Aunty for what she was to my Mom - a great friend!
Now, if you can kindly excuse my long intro... let's get back to our first post in the series of Influential Elders. Please welcome Jebarathinam Annan as he comes here to share from his heart about his influential elder!
I remember, in my late teens, when I went to stay with my mother during summer vacations (in early 80's), there was an Uncle (must have been 85+ years old) living next door. His wife Kiruba aunty called him as "Dave uncle" to me. He had lost his eye sight due to his old age, was able to hardly walk and so would sit in his own easy-chair close to the corner window of their living room (adjacent to our house). He would use a walking stick and take baby steps to go to the bathroom in say, 5 minutes, whenever he needed to go. Every early morning, if I am awake, I will be able to hear him listening to FEBA radio station (loudly) listening to Christian devotional programs - at 4.45 AM in the morning!
One day, my mother asked me to go give some eatable to Kiruba aunty. And I had the first golden opportunity to get acquainted with Dave uncle. Turned out that he became one of the most memorable persons of my life. The kind of stories he had to share, the gentle and kind words he had to say, boy, I wonder if we see such personalities anymore in our lives. I hardly am able to remember his face now - he had a very black thickened skin on both his cheeks. I could not stare at his eyes as he was not able to see anything straight, it would just simply wander like a rabbit all the time.
Dave uncle would go on talking for hours together about his youth days where he had gone out to hunting with his cousins in Kalakkad hills (the wild life sanctuary had been established years later); where he would hunt 'Maan', 'MiLa', 'Kaatu kozhi' among other animals. I would sit and listen in awe wondering how he is able to remember all those meticulous details, to the dot.
Kiruba aunty was also a remarkable person I believe. She was a bit plump, and had this distinct leucoderma white lips and big white patches on her cheeks and forehead. And an unbelievable graceful smile on her face all the time, as if "all is well", even when she would be doing tons and tons of chores to take care of Dave uncle day-in, day-out.
Unfortunately, my summer vacations were too distracted and my encounters with Dave uncle were sort of limited. In a couple years, my mother moved out building her own house (she had been renting a house next to Dave uncle's house). The next year I went to Tirunelveli, I heard Dave uncle had passed away and that Kiruba aunty lives all alone by herself. I went and saw her once, I could not stand watching her going through such a life without Dave uncle, so I didn't go see her afterwards. But I would see her at church or walking to the stores near her house. She would stop and enquire as to how things were, amid her all is well smiles.
That last time I met her, Kiruba aunty said that Dave uncle would "wait for Jeba" to come home on vacations so he would be able to "talk to someone". Little had I realized until then, that I had been a rare source of encouragement for Dave uncle during those "visits". From that day onwards, whenever I heard FEBA radio, that thick skinned face would flash across my mind, and I would hear that soft, gentle voice I loved hearing, for at least sometime in my life...