As the sun dipped low on the horizon, painting vibrant shades of orange across the sky, I sat on the balcony watching it set with my son Ehan by my side. His small hand gripped mine tightly as we took in the beauty of the fading daylight together. Later, when sharing this moment with my father, it sparked a memory from his own childhood. He recalled walking hand-in-hand with his father, my grandfather, exploring the world around them. As a young boy, he used to explore the outdoors holding his Uppa’s finger, feeling the roughness of his thumbnail beneath small fingers. Gripping his fingers brought him comfort and security. His early discoveries of the world happened through that simple, grounding point of contact.
When his father passed away, my dad was overcome with grief as he held those same hands one final time. When the day came to perform Veluppa’s last rites, a profound grief overcame him. Though lifeless, those fingers represented the connection and guidance his father had provided. It was through him that my dad’s horizons had been expanded and his curiosity for knowledge kindled. As he held those lifeless fingers one last time, he was transported back to being a child exploring by his Uppa’s side. An uncontrollable sorrow welled within at losing the figure who had expanded his mind. Though the physical being was no more, the impact of that guidance lived on.
While my father acknowledges having his own limitations in life, he feels immense gratitude for the curiosity and thirst for knowledge Veluppa kindled in him from a young age with the limited means available to them at that time. That spark is what continues to propel him forward even today. I have never known my father to place importance on lavish possessions or material wealth in all my years and he values his connections above everything and has always chased his passions that are predominantly nonmaterialistic and working towards uplifting and helping people behind the scenes and not vocal about it. He finds meaning and joy in simpler pleasures, a quality no doubt shaped by cherishing moments spent with Veluppa all those years ago and going through difficult conditions during his childhood and overcoming them with resilience. And it is what he hopes will also light Ehan’s path, passing that flame from one generation to the next. Now, my father finds solace knowing a piece of his father lives on through him and will be passed down to the next generation. As Ehan grows, I hope he too will fondly recall our sunset moments together from the balcony, just as my dad remembers his time with his father. Though my grandfather never met Ehan, an element of his spirit remains within our family and will be carried forward. Memories have a unique power to bridge the gaps created by time and distance between generations. In recalling experiences of our past, we preserve the legacy of those who came before us and maintain a sense of connection even after they are gone. My father’s remembrance of his father reminds me to cherish the moments I have now creating memories with my own son that will last a lifetime.
When Ehan grows older, I believe he too will fondly recall our shared sunset moments, just as my father still sees his Uppa’s face when reminiscing their walks long ago. Though my son never knew his great-grandfather, an element of his essence is preserved within our family and will live on through the bonds and memories that connect us across time. Life is shorter than we think.