Monday, August 27, 2012

Finally Reunited - RIP Aji.

As immigrants to the US, we all try to carve out our own destiny. When we arrive here with family, sometimes that destiny separates us. Mine took me away from my beloved grandmother. There comes a time when we seek to reconnect and cement our love and affection, before the end.

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My journey settled in Orlando, Florida. Far away from Newark, New Jersey where my grandmother stayed with aunts and uncles. There was always a burning desire to spend quality time with my grandmother. Mid summer 2010, I did just that. It was just a time to sit reflect, eat meals, laugh, walk downstairs and just be in her presence. A few days were sheer joy for both of us. Many times we just sat there without saying anything, or she just sleep quietly.

After my dad passed in 1977, my grandmother was the driving force ensuring that I had the best our humble surroundings could offer. I hinted a replacement for her beloved son, Mickie, in me. Or as some of my beloved cousins would say, “I was her favorite.” Maybe they were just jealous that I got a larger share of the goodies. Needless to say aji took special interest in her grandchildren. At our old house in Line Path Sunday brunches was a must.

Our church service started at 7:30 am and finished at 8 – 9 ish, depending on which long winded elder or preacher was conducting service. After services, the entire clan would gather at our home for a day long frenzy of activities. Before services finished, Uncle Adam Hussain, came to our house to halaal the duck or chicken. Then the cooking started. Kids played, older ones helped out. My grandma pretended to conduct operations but she never really did. She rather spend time with us kids than be a slave to the fireside. It is this joyous time that cemented a bond between grandchildren and grandmother.

Naturally, I was not going to be in the vicinity of New York and not visit my cousins. So after a couple of days eating, talking, giving her tablets, making tea and biscuits, laughing uncontrollably about nothing in particular I was itching for a drive. My grandmother got wind that I was driving to New York. Mind you, this old lady had not leave Newark, for that matter her home, other than her frequent trips to the hospital, in years. Now she wanted to take the one hour, or two hours depending on traffic, drive to Queens! My aunts and uncles were stunned. She always refused when anyone offered to take her to Queens. Here she was determined to go. She reminded us every morning, “Abe a guh today?”

After much deliberating and consulting at the caution of some family members, we decided that she would make the drive. I personally do not think that she would let me go without her. It was like moving her entire room into the car. But she settled in and was ready to go. As the journey began, my 80 something year old grandmother keep pointing out various landmarks. She had not taken this trip in years, yet she remembered certain places. No one recalled telling her exactly whose house we were going to. As we pulled up to Aunty Patricia’s home she immediately announced, “This a Dolly new house.” How did she know?

It was thrilling to see her walking in and inspecting the house. After about half an hour of sitting in the living room and conversing with everyone, she retired to the bedroom. She said she was tired. She stopped breathing! We called the paramedics, they came and took her away, we followed. She was in the emergency room for awhile. All of the family gathered. She came out of the emergency room and was placed in a critical care room. There was no brain activity. After a couple of days, the doctors saw no improvement, we all conferred. It was her time to go.

After it was decided, everyone went home. Although the doctors would not let me stay in the room, they could not stop me from walking by and peeking in. They also could not stop me from sitting with her in silence when no one was around. That faithful August 27, 2010 night was peaceful and silent. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning I went to my aunt’s house to freshen up and came back before daybreak. Aji was still there. A couple hours later she went to be with her husband Philip, her daughter Juliet, her son Mickie, and her son-in-law Adam. I went in kissed her, walked around the ward, and came back, the doctors surrounded her, she was gone.

Aji lived a long and happy life. She got to spend those years with loving and caring children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. For a young village girl, from Williamsburg, Berbice who married into a farming family in #35 Village, Berbice to a housewife of a Sugar Factory driver in Line Path, Berbice to an immigrant of the United States, Evelyn Joseph, later Khidaroo had a fulfilling life.

I am at peace that my grandmother departed. How long does one stay on this earth for our comforts? When is it time? It was her time. No more pain and suffering, no more doctors and tablets, no more people assisting her to do everything physically, no more depending on anyone, no more being lonely. She is with the people she loved and cherished, but still smiling down on those of us who were in her gracious folds. I miss you aji, but I understand your journey. Rest in Peace old lady, RIP.