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Happy 82nd Birthday Mummy
with love from Goa
I have been in Goa, India, the past few weeks with my father, sorting through my parents’ belongings in their home here. I found this photo of Mummy and I at my med school graduation. Tomorrow I am speaking to the Goa Medical College students tomorrow and will be pledging the Oath to Self-Care and Well-Being with them. Today is Mummy’s 82nd birthday. We miss her. And so I am re-sharing my original 2020 post in her loving memory, including this treasured photo of her in 1960.
As a physician I have guidelines to treat various illnesses, however my guidelines on how to be a parent, a daughter, a sibling, a colleague, a physician, a teacher, a friend came from my parents, my family (biologically related and heart related) through their role modeling, their day-to-day actions and the way they lived their life.
If I had been wiser, I would have started collecting my parents’ words of wisdom at a much earlier age. There’s some truth to the words that state we must get to a certain age to realize that our parents are smarter than us. I share more about the tremendous impact they have had in my life in my latest book, Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.
Today on my mummy’s 80th birthday, I would like to share one of the meaningful lesson.
I come from a working class family, lived in a multi-generational family system and have had a comfortable life, in spite of a hand to mouth living. My parents—both academic physicians—took pride in their values, hard work ethic, and honesty. My early teens were a time when our country and the “doctor profession” were undergoing change. Physicians were still recognized to be part of that noble profession; however, some were deviating from the path by entering their own private practice and medicine was starting to also adopt a business model.
The gifts physicians’ received changed from the freshly baked bread and cakes, home-grown vegetables, and knitted scarves to more substantive gifts of trips and cars and scooters. Some of my friends whose parents were also physicians now rode in chauffeur-driven cars and they switched to private schools.
Unsure of this perceived discrepancy, one day I asked Mummy in an almost undermining, condescending way, “What kind of physicians are you? You must not be doing well. Other parents tend to do much better while we are still living in this crowded two-bedroom flat. How come you don’t get the same gifts?”
Mummy held my hand, and said, “But of course, I do get the best gifts.”
Surprised I asked, “What do you mean?” and she said, “When the patients look at me and say ‘God bless you’ or ‘thank you’ or students that I have taught years ago recognize me in spite of my gray hair now, that’s the best gift.”
I am not sure I understood then the meaning and depth of what she shared, however that incidence has a huge impact on how I show up each day.
Mummy continues to give selflessly and sacrifice for all.
So on her 80th birthday I wanted to record her wisdom to save it for me, for the family, for the future generations. I am really grateful to Ray Bassett, host of Scenic Roots on WUTC in Chattanooga. I sent him an email, spoke with him of my intentions, and he graciously accepted to interview Mummy about the questions that I sent him.
As you reflect on your life:
What gives you meaning?
How did you discern what gives you meaning?
What would you consider one or more of your/ achievement successes?
What allows you to overcome any hurdles?
What words/ advice would you like to share with your family and for future generations?
Thank you, Ray, for making my wish come true!
Here is Mummy in the audio above! And my family’s birthday wishes to their Nani.