Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Real Role Model

A close family friend of my Mom’s passed away a few days ago, and I am still trying to come to terms with it. I met him last year when visiting India with my Mom. She met him and his future wife in nursing school in the 1960s, and became close friends. I learned from Arvind Uncle that his biological father gave him up to an orphanage run by Christian missionaries as a baby, just after his mother passed away. He said with no judgment or bitterness that he was glad that he stayed at the well run orphanage, even after his biological father attempted to get him back years later, because his childhood there helped make him who he was. He valued life, and never took it for granted.

I visited the orphanage and church where he married his wife, one my Mom’s best friends. I also toured the leprosy hospital that they worked in after finishing nursing school, which is also located on the same grounds. Arvind Uncle told me he could have worked overseas and made a great deal of money, but he felt called to work with leprosy patients, and never regretted his decision. I really admire him and his wife for their dedication to their work and their patients.

He also considered himself my Mom’s brother, and would tell people who asked about his family outside of his wife and children that he had a sister in the United States. Mom lost touch with her friends for years, so when they miraculously got back in touch with each other, their friendships were as strong as ever. I will never forget arriving at the airport to visit them, and being greeted by Arvind Uncle and most of his family with bouquets of flowers. I have never had such a warm reception before! In the few days that followed, I felt like I was a part of his family; my time with them was one of the best experiences I had in India. Returning to the country will never be the same.

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