24 November 2022

A different kind of Thanksgiving

Here in America, today is one of the most joyous days. It is Thanksgiving. A day that celebrates that fundamental cause celebre for humans beings – family relationships. It is a day that reminds us that in spite of some of the strains in family relationships (who amongst us does not have that weird uncle or that seemingly insufferable relative?), there is always a set of people who will be there by us when we need them the most. Even when everybody forsakes us.

And then there are people like Mr. G. Lying in the corner room of the hospice, he has no family, nor any idea that it is Thanksgiving. In fact, when I told him that it is Thanksgiving today, he smiled and said “Merry Christmas!”. In his bouts of slipping in and out of cognitive consciousness, he did answer me right when I asked “What do we eat today?”. “Turkey!”. But had no recollection of cranberry sauce or stuffing!

He literally has no family. He had been in the hospice for a long time before a very distant cousin (second cousin I believe) located him and paid him a visit.

But for all that, he is too preoccupied to miss the love of a family. He needs help for every thing he has to do. He cannot even sit up without somebody helping him. He cannot turn on his sides when he feels sore, he cannot pull his blanket over himself when he feels cold and worse, with his fading speech and loss of memory of words, he can often not express what it is that he wants.

I am not sure what thoughts go thru one’s mind when you are physically incapable of doing anything. Who do you thank when you reflect on life? Are you too unhappy/angry with current state or are thankful for everything you still have? Would it have been better if nobody reminded you that it is Thanksgiving so you will not miss it and the day would pass for you just like yet another day?

Eventually, he got tired and wanted to sleep. As I put the blanket over him, he murmured “Come back again” and went off to deep sleep.

For all the thoughts I was having about Mr. G as I started walking down the corridor, a more important sight caught my eyes. There were about half a dozen staff milling around… helping the residents. These staff, I am sure do have family at home. But they had to adjust their celebrations so as to make sure the residents were cared after.

It was very difficult not to feel thankful for everything I have. And perhaps take them for granted.

17 November 2022

That is a unique answer!!

“What do you want to be written on your tombstone?”, I asked her.

This is a question I often ask people I meet – not to be too dark, but to get a perspective of long term view of their own lives from them. Most of the answers revolve around core values of people – kind, family person, love, made a difference etc etc.

So, I was completely unprepared for what Robin had to say after giving it a few seconds of thought…

“BADASS!”

I laughed out aloud. That is so Robin. Right from the days in i2 back in the ‘90s, I remember her as the ultimate change maker. A lot of those fiesty arguments of QA vs QC (in software) came flashing by immediately!!

Following that, her career has been nothing if not “Badass”. Multiple times CEO, great exits and helping the community of startups grow – those are a few of the things that have defined her.

What has absolutely not changed is her sense of gratitude towards folks who she had worked with in the past. Which is what got her to drive thru Atlanta morning traffic for an hour and have a breakfast with me! (She was in town for some business)

I felt special that she did that for me. Getting to hear her personal reflections in life was nothing short of enlightening.

But then again, I would not expect anything less from a self-styled “Badass” person, either!!