The spirit of living

I had gone to attend a leadership offsite in Kovalam. On the way, I had the privilege of meeting my sister and their family. The most fascinating person in their family is my aunt. My aunt is 92 years old and lives her life to the fullest. She always has a smile on her face and her memory is sharp. I have not met many people in my life who have gone through all the trials and tribulations of life and still have given more to others than they have received in life.

My aunt’s name is Jayalakshmi. She is the younger sister of my father. Born in Trichy, she was married to a government employee and settled in Salem. She has six children and went through all the trials of life one can imagine to bring them up, educating them and enable them to marry and settle down in life. Like my father I have never seen my aunt lose her temper ever in my life. I have always seen her smiling under all circumstances.

Her smile is infectious. Till recently she used to cook her own food, was able to do her daily ablutions without any support and would not ask for any favour from any one. I have never seen her sulk or pass on her burdens in life to anyone else. I have never seen her complain to my father or her other siblings of any problems she was facing in life. I knew she had to confront a lot of challenges in life but would suppress her hurt and ill feelings within herself and only share her smile with others.

One may argue that it may not be good for health of if you suppress your feelings. But, what I have seen of her is that her goodness has enabled her to maintain excellent health right through her life. I have never seen her depend on others for any support. Today if I reflect on her life, I realize that if you are willing to give up all your joy to make others happy, then God has his own ways of rewarding you with a long and healthy life.

Every time I visit my sister, I am in awe of this aunt. Her knowledge of things around her is unbelievable. She is a great cricket lover. At this age, she watches all of India’s matches and she was asking me about the recently concluded India-New Zealand series. She was even aware of the ensuing Sri Lanka test series with India. Today her knees have become weak because of old age. But watching TV and reading newspapers/magazines and following conversations with everyone in the family she keeps herself fully updated in life and living.

What I admire most about her is her self discipline. She gets up early morning and after completing her morning rituals has her bath on her own and is ready for the day. She has her breakfast and does not spill a bit and till recently will go and clean her own plate as well. She will then watch TV and listen to morning slokas. She has a cot beside her chair and will happily have a short nap whenever she needs it.

She is more than willing to discuss with you on any subject and and will be happy to share her learnings in life. Whenever you meet her, she will enquire about everyone in your family and their well being. She will not forget anyone . She will never ignore you or belittle you irrespective of age. She wanted me to share photos of my grandson during my recent visit and was more than comfortable to glance through the photos on the Ipad. At the same time, she will never intrude into your space or force you to converse with her.

My lessons of life from her are innumerable. Learn to share joy and keep sorrows to yourself. Learn to be genuine and share your smile with everyone. It is a good idea to be self dependant and not burden others in your life. Patience pays always. The list is endless. But the learnings are timeless.

Grateful to my aunt.

S Ramesh Shankar

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