Wave Goodbye

You know how they say that children instinctively ‘know’ things?  Do you think it’s true?  I know they can pick up on how the people closest to them are feeling; but is there more to it than just that?

I ask because…

Earlier this week I posted about the passing of my uncle.  Vinay had met him a few times – but would not remember him.  I was trying to think about the last time they met, and I can’t recall it.  He knows my aunt, though.  We go over to see her now and then.  The last time he saw her was just over a month ago.

Today, I was going over to see how they were doing and took Vinay with me.  It was straight after playgroup and he was quite exhausted, but since I was already on that side of the bridge, I figured he’d just have to deal with it. 

He was comfortable in their home – he knows where the parrot is, he helped himself to a couple of biscuits and was happy being looked after by the girls while my aunt and I had a little catch-up.  

I could see he was getting more and more tired.  He would come to me and put his head in my lap.  Or if I picked him up, he’d rest his head on my shoulder.  When he’s had enough of being somewhere, he starts waving at people – indicating that it’s time to go home!

I asked him, ‘Shall we go home?’  He climbed into my lap and started waving.  

As we moved towards the front door, he saw a framed, freshly garlanded picture of my uncle and pointed at it.  I took him to the picture.  After staring at it for a couple of seconds, he touched it.  And then started waving goodbye.  To the picture.  It wasn’t his normal two or three second wave.  It was much longer.

Everyone was quite choked up and didn’t know what to say.  And then my aunt kissed Vinay’s hand.

My son always fills me with wonder.  While I hope that he amazes others in the same way, I know it’s quite unlikely.  But today, I know he touched the hearts of some people that are very important to me. 


A close family friend passed away, leaving behind three daughters in their early/mid-twenties and a wife whom he adored, and who adored him.  He was their world.

Finding out about his passing was shocking.  

But my shock and sadness cannot compare to that of his wife and children.  Seeing them, all in white (Hindus wear white when in mourning), sobbing and trying to find strength in each other is heart-wrenching.

They will wear white while in mourning (for twelve days).  Maybe his wife will always wear white now.  I don’t know.  I don’t think she knows yet.  Or has even had the time to think about it.

In our culture and community, it is the father’s duty to look after and guide his daughters, even if they have careers or do not live together, until they are married.  None of his daughters are married.  They live on two different continents.  Will they go back to their jobs?  Will my aunt live alone?  Will she move away?  I don’t know.  I don’t think they know yet.

Now that the cremation is over and the Puja (prayer ceremony) is over, I keep asking myself, ‘What will they do now?’ and  ‘Who will look after them?’  

It is an awful and frightening situation for them to be in.  But I’m so glad that they are together, have each other and will make decisions together.

Each time I’ve come home from seeing my aunt and the girls, I’ve hugged my son a little harder.  Kissed him a little more.  And I am that much more reluctant to leave him – even for an hour.

I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t matter how old you are, how healthy you might be, how ‘good’ you feel.  When it’s your time, it’s your time.