Love, Laughter, Family and Life Lessons: A Tribute to My Grandparents

Pauline   |   September 24, 2018 

 

The other day, I was watching 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ with my husband, and I must confess, I haven’t laughed that hard while watching a movie in a long time. The movie reminded me so much of my extended family that is just as huge and loud. And yes, we’re a tad bit crazy though definitely not as crazy as the family in the movie.

If you look at a picture of my grandparents with their children and grandchildren and spouses, you might mistake us for an entire church. My father has three brothers and six sisters. I have three siblings and twenty one cousins.  Most of us are married and have children. At family gatherings, there’s a lot of food, laughter, teasing and senseless arguments over unimportant topics. Though we’re all so different, most of us cousins are really close to each other. We are in each other’s businesses, but also love each other to bits and are there to support each other when needed. Even now when I am separated from my siblings and cousins by distance and we’re all busy with our own little families, they are still very close to my heart and I believe I am close to theirs.

When I look at the bond we share as a large family and the values that have shaped us, I think of the role played by my grandparents – Appacha and Ammachi as we call them. Some of our best memories as children and teens were at Appacha and Ammachi’s house at Ranni, Kerala. We generally visited them every other year and spent a little over a month with them. Those were the good old days when there were no mobile phones or laptops, and technology didn’t come between human relationships. The rains would disconnect the phone lines and cable TV and we’d have to invent games for entertainment.

We spent time with cousins, played in the river, and drew water from the well as we had no running water. We chased chickens, plucked mangoes, rose apples and cashews, and walked to Appacha’s shop to get some more treats. Ammachi made some of the most delicious food over firewood and didn’t believe in having a fridge. That meant she cooked everything fresh for us, including banana and tapioca chips. We visited our uncles and aunts and got our stash of pocket money for the year! Every holiday ended with sleepless nights for Appacha as he dreaded the day we would leave. He’d run behind our car with tears streaming down his face as he knew he’d have to wait a long time to see us again.

Some memories still make me laugh– like Appacha’s daily routine of dyeing his hair (it was extremely important to him) and Ammachi’s complaints about Appacha’s selective deafness! But what I cherish the most is the legacy they built through their deep investment in their children’s lives and in the Kingdom of God. My siblings and I didn’t speak much Malayalam and most of what remain etched in my heart is from what I observed from their lives or the stories I heard from my parents and uncles.

My grandparents were amazing people and were radical in their own ways. They raised four boys and six girls in a household with very little income; but their priorities were set right. The children were all taught the Word of God. They were shown by example the importance of hard work and to deeply care for each other. Sacrificial giving was a way of life. Education was valued and every son and daughter completed their graduation. This may not sound like a huge achievement but this was back in the 60s-80s and they didn’t let their economic status hold them back. The first time my father ever wore slippers or shoes was when he went to college. Though they may have lacked in clothing and luxuries, they didn’t lack in love and support. Even at that time my grandparents neither gave nor received dowry. Their lives showed their dependence on God. They didn’t slow down till they moved to Pune due to Ammachi’s health issues and they lived there till they went to be with their Lord.

The two biggest lessons they left behind with me are the values of prayer and of being content in one’s situation. Ammachi was a woman of prayer and of unwavering faith. We always saw her praying. Even when we couldn’t hear her, we could see her lips moving as she prayed continually for everyone! Towards the last few years of her life, her memory began to fade. She often failed to recognise her children and she had periods of confusion. However, she never forgot to pray nor was she ever too weak to do so. She remembered scriptures and the words of the hymns she loved. She prayed endlessly and remembered everyone’s needs. I believe she influenced all her children greatly in this area. What I admire the most in my father is his prayer life and I thank Ammachi for being an example to him.

Appacha, till the day he died, hardly ever complained. I was amazed to see such acceptance in one’s situation. Appacha worked till his early 90s and was stronger then than most people in their 30s and 40s today. He was a man who refused to stay in any other house even for a night but when he realised that he was unable to care for his wife on his own, he accepted the move from his village to Pune. It wasn’t easy for him at all, moving at that age from the familiarity of the simple village life with the freedom to move around as he wished, to a bustling city which replaced lush grass and trees with concrete and dust, and the sound of birds chirping and frogs croaking with the honking or cars and buses. When he did go for walks, there were not many who understood him. But Appacha accepted it all and tried to adjust to the new lifestyle.

In a couple of years, Appacha suffered a stroke that left half his body paralysed and was bedridden. Here was the man who could walk uphill with a 10 kg sack of rice on his head at the age of 90, now constrained to a bed. Yet, he hardly complained. He continued in that state for about five years, confounding the doctors who expected him to succumb in a few months. He lost his companion, his wife, a few years later and his response was 'sthotram' (Praise the Lord)!  He was in a lot of pain towards the end and anyone in the nearby rooms could hear him groan and cry out. Yet, he barely complained!

Now that Appacha and Ammachi are no more, my wish is that their legacy will live on richly in the lives of their children, grandchildren and the future generations. When people look at us, I hope they see a family that has a rich prayer life and whose contentment is in the Lord no matter what. And whether in poverty or in riches, in times of comfort and in times of suffering, I pray that we will set our priorities right and invest deeply in the lives of our future generation and in the Kingdom of God, always being sacrificial in our giving, loving and living.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

 

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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Pauline

Pauline lives with her husband and two adorable daughters and is a physiotherapist by profession. She loves dancing and being silly with her daughters when she is not stuffing her mouth with food. She loves music, board games and exploring street markets with her family.

7 comments on “Love, Laughter, Family and Life Lessons: A Tribute to My Grandparents”

    1. Yes Deepa. Such simple lives but so so rich! I hope we remember the important things of life in our busy activity filled lives and leave a rich and beautiful legacy as our grandparents did!

  1. Beautifully written. Brought back memories of my grandparents too - a life of prayer and trust in the Lord alone! Truly believe that the blessings we enjoy is the result of their prayers for their children,grabdchildre and the generations to come.

  2. Beautifully written. Brought back memories of my grandparents too - a life of prayer and trust in the Lord alone! Truly believe that the blessings we enjoy is the result of their prayers for their children,grandchildren and the generations to come.

    1. Thanks Sweena! I really believe that too. What a blessing to have grandparents who not only love you but who constantly pray/ed for you!

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