The birthday surprise wasn't a surprise. My son went to visit his grandparents before leaving for New York, and told them about my visit. No, I didn't murder him for that either.
It might have been too much of a shock for my old folks to suddenly have me land up at their door.
Well, not only was the country celebrating I-Day, so was the local residents' association, in the park just below my parents' flat. And at full volume. So our greetings took place against a loud background of patriotic songs, which went on for quite a while. Rather than bond with my parents and sister, I tried escaping to the farthest room, but to no avail. The noise was still deafening. At last the songs got over, only to be replaced by one very very loud and shrill 'auntieji' who was giving away the prizes for various races and games, and who seemed to be most delighted to have access to a microphone. We were all most relieved when the festivities got over.
I had bought some Corelle plates and bowls with a green leaf pattern as a gift for my mother. (Green is her favourite colour), which we promptly used for lunch. After a post-lunch siesta, my sister and I went out for the usual vegetable, fruit and bread shopping and had a couple of rounds of the now blissfully quiet park. Back home, we dug out our family prayer books and had a beautiful prayer session, both sisters not really melodious, but more or less in tune. This was, I think, something that our mother really appreciated. (It has been years since she has been able to attend the Satsang we belong to, though she tries to read our holy books as regularly as she can). Various grandchildren called up at different times of the day, and when the SRE called up to wish her, he told her about the many blog readers who had sent her their good wishes. Thank you, everyone.
My sister had to go home on Saturday morning as her son and his wife were coming over for Raksha Bandhan. I gave my father a haircut, more difficult now as he is stooping much more than before. My sister wondered where I learned to cut hair. ( Nowhere, but I'm willing to try as long as I have a willing guinea-pig!) I managed to prepare lunch and dinner in a kitchen which now seems so unfamiliar. Conversations. My mother was relieved that we didn't have a big party and call all our cousins and their families, which is something my sister and I had thought about and rejected. It would have been way too exhausting for both parents! I did trim my father's nails. (Scary because he's on blood thinners and he scares me when he squeals!) Telling my father to make more of an effort to walk. Giving him a soothing pedicure and foot massage. Before I knew it, it was time to go.
It'll probably be another couple of months before I can bring my parents back to Kolkata. My energy levels are still low, and my parents do need a lot of care. I am glad that I went, though. And I know that my visit was the best possible present I could have given my mother on this milestone birthday.