My father was eighty six last week, on the 26th of December. The last year has not been very kind to him, especially his five month sojourn in Delhi during the period in which I was recovering from typhoid and also visited Oz. When he was leaving for the airport he had managed to traverse the distance from his bed to the elevator and thence to the car with the help of his trusty walker. On his return he was wheeled in on my computer chair, and he now barely manages a step or two before his legs collapse under him. Sadly, his eyesight has deteriorated even further, and so he manages to read far less than formerly. He has also been hearing sounds that disturb him a great deal. After several attempts at trying to figure out what was disturbing him, I realized that he was probably hearing sounds inside his head. Our GP suggested the name of a psychiatrist who was willing to make home visits, and this kind gentleman spent ample time trying to assess the situation. He has prescribed certain medicines which are helping my father sleep better, but have not yet got rid of the auditory hallucinations. My father is still amazingly stoic, and was pleased to learn that the psychiatrist found his memory and general alertness excellent for his age. He is still gentle and courteous, and bears his myriad infirmities without complaint. The home nurse seems to be genuinely fond of him, and tends to his needs with tenderness and devotion, God bless her.
This birthday was celebrated with prayers, sung rather tunelessly by moi. Dad was always the one who led our singing as he was most familiar with the bhajans, but now he hasn't the strength.
I'd made a favourite dish of his for lunch, chosen from his now very limited menu of foods that he can manage to chew and digest , followed by kheer (payasam) which both he and my mother enjoyed thoroughly. My mother was going in for cataract surgery the following morning, so she was being subjected to intermittent dosing with preparatory eyedrops. She celebrated Dad's birthday by generously tipping the maid and the home nurse.
The ravages of time are hard to bear and hard to witness, but they seem impervious against Dad's indomitable spirit. I cannot wish him many more years of this difficult life. But I do pray that however long he lives, he continues to find the small joys that still make his life worth living.