It is quite amazing always to me how the body and mind adapt to changes how ever grudgingly in the beginning. You can get used to more work or less work just as easily. The inertia that sets in when you get used to a certain routine and feel so reluctant when you have to change it. My father-in-law alternates between living in the US and back home. He came a few days back and it means a lot of changes in my life. Mainly the cooking of full meals every morning and tiffin at night all with less oil and salt. Going from just cooking for the kids in the morning to planning a full meal every night and rush and cook it in the morning takes some getting used to. Sometimes it irks me how nothing changes for the "son" pretty much when he "takes care" of the parent/s but so much changes for the DIL and yet the way it is talked about is "Oh, yeah, he is with his son". Well, I am talking about the average Indian family here, am sure there are many families where this is not the case.
I am very conscious of our duty as a couple towards my father-in-law (as well as to my mother). I feel sad that he has lost his wife. My mother-in-law was a very courageous woman in the real sense of the word. She did not get fazed by difficulties in life. She could handle most things smartly and without getting too stressed about it. I miss her myself. But sometimes when I see my FIL I feel like asking him if he thinks of her, does he miss her or has he gotten used to it? He very rarely he talks about her except may be in some anecdotal way talking about some event. I feel bad when I think of how even me and my siblings talk less and less about my father - we do remember him and talk about him - but that intensity with which we used to talk about him the first year he passed away has gone down. May be because he lived a full life unlike some others I know like my cousin who died of cancer a month after my dad and her son was still in high school. It doesn't feel so bad when you know someone lived a complete life and passed away before it got to a point of suffering and living on with bad health. My cousin's death still does not feel real to me - somehow I never shed a tear over it because honestly I could not feel it being so far away. But I do feel this strange feeling of disbelief, of wanting to talk to her and feeling that pain when I know I cannot talk to her. Tears, no. Sometimes my own reactions to loss surprises me.
So back to my FIL. When I see him go on in the sunset of his life without his life companion and just doing mundane every day tasks from one day to the next, I just wonder what goes on through his mind. And I can't also help but wonder how will it be for us when we grow old? Who will go first and how the other will handle it. I joke to B saying, "Hey, if you dare to go before me, I will kill you!". And I feel worried almost that B too in his characteristic "head on his shoulders" way of dealing with things will just move on and focus on the future but I will be forgotten. OK, don't kill me. I am morbid that way - think a lot about death. In reality though, how can a living human being mourn all the time? Impossible. You just have to move on. Some situations like the death of a child, of course, I can imagine one never ever recovers from that. Especially if it is an only child and they are left alone after that. It happened to B's close friend's parents.
The other day my FIL went to his room after his dinner as he always does to read a book for some time and then go to sleep. I went in to get the kids in bed and when I came out I just peeked in my FIL's room. He had turned the other way and was sound asleep but with the lights on and no book in hand either. I got nervous for a second and tapped him and woke him up just to make sure he was OK. He said he just fell asleep and didn't bother to turn off the lights. Somehow that image of him alone there with the lights on made me feel sad. If we had gone to bed may be he would have noticed only in the middle of the night. It is really not a big deal - yet some images make you feel sad. One of my friends who used to work out furiously said to me "I am just spending my youth preparing for old age". And he wasn't fully joking. And it is true. In some sense if you don't take care of yourself and end up with bad health in old age, it is a very tough life for both yourself and the care takers. Which of course in my old age will be some nurse I am sure!
It is as usual late at night, the only time I can write peacefully. I am a little hungry, tired from a long day and it is late. May be I shouldn't be posting this one and revealing my morbid thoughts to every one. Do any of you ever wonder about these sorts of things?