Driving into work today, I decided to give the earphones a pass and tuned into NPR. There was the news about Libya and then something about predator drones and my mind was weaving in and out, the sound bytes alternatively being loud and fading out. The weather and traffic updates followed. Then was this story about parenting. The “anti tiger-mom” claimed the interviewer. The conversation with Brian Caplan was both funny and thought-provoking. I looked back on my growing up days and nodded in agreement with the author’s views.
Amongst a tribe of tiger moms and dads, my parents were laid back. No pressure. No great expectations. No big cap on TV time. Much of my teenage angst had to do with curfew hours and the limitations that society and Amma set on me for being a woman. I look back at how my siblings and I have turned out and for a moment feel proud. Depending on what success is measured against, I feel we have done well. A happy, well-balanced life. What more could one want? Thank you Appa and Amma I said mentally when the next program started. One of my favorites – the story corps project.
Eager to hear who was talking, I listened intently. It was a father and daughter. Hearing the father express his love to his daughter, I lost it and dissolved into a barrage of tears. Sometimes, all it takes are a few words. “I was scared to death.” Appa like Steven Wells worked on the factory floor. I wonder if he was scared too. I wonder if he ever got a chance to share his emotions with anyone. Reaching the garage I took a minute to sober up, I looked into the rearview mirror and forced a smile through the tears. It felt good.
Walking to work, I realized why it hit so hard. Appa, you turn a year older tomorrow. Birthdays have this way of making your absence felt acutely. I knew at the back of my mind I would miss you but didn’t realize I would miss you this much.
As the years pass, the pain has gone away even if not completely. The memories remain fresh as ever. Each night as my daughters say good night to you, I am taken aback by how young you look in that photo. The twinkle in your eye, the crooked smile. I tell myself your presence hovers around me.
Happy birthday Appa! You are missed and remembered more than ever before.