Four years ago, I saw my father for the last time – he was in a hospital struggling for life, perhaps silently awaiting his last breath. It was and will remain the worst moment of my life; seeing a man who was larger than life laying there motionless; it shattered me from inside out.
Before arriving at the hospital in India, I had spoken to my father on the phone from the U.S. He sounded different. He said, “Kunal Beta, I am not feeling good; when are you coming to India?” Now I go to India every year, but it was not something that I had planned around then. My stupid mind could not grasp the gravity of what my father was asking me. Too involved in my worries at the time, I made the same mistake my young son often does with me when he is pissed off. I spoke to my father in an irritable, angry voice which he didn’t like. However, surprisingly, he didn’t react. In a low pitch, he urged me not to raise my voice at him. He had never done that before – usually, my father responded aggressively.
Despite the glaring warning signs that something was amiss with my father, I failed to take stock of what was going on. He was probably aware that death was coming for him, but he stopped short of completing that conversation. I could not have in my wildest dreams, visualized the blunder I was committing by neglecting him, and that will remain the most deplorable mistake of my life.
I never got to talk to him again. It is not true that he left peacefully; because I know he was trying to talk to my mother and me one last time, but doctors were holding him on the ventilator, In a state of shock, I could not muster the courage to advise doctors to remove his life support and let him die peacefully.
In hindsight, I realized that he was determined to be with me one last time. He struggled to keep going on a ventilator until I reached India. In those final moments, all I wanted to do was remove the ventilator, for him to open his eyes, to talk to us; I just needed to hear his voice.
My sister in India was lucky enough to see him awake one final time, and he was able to see her. My grief-stricken mother and I missed that last conscious moment with him. I feel that I missed the opportunity God gave me when I could say how sorry I was for all those times I was an impertinent son.
Today when I see this picture it reminds me of my father teaching us to climb not walk. He used to take us to the Hills of Galta which was his morning routine and our playground to walk, run, explore and of course climb! He is seen here in this image with glasses with my mother in the back and me in the front 10-year-old.
I miss you Papa, and I wish to take birth from you again in whatever form God decide for us; to convey you my apologies!
Made in India, Serving Humanity, Living in Safety Harbor Florida, USA. Healthcare Entrepreneur. Author ”A Philanthropist Without Money” Driven by an inherent desire for knowledge and creative thinking, I harnessed my “Mid Life” energies to becoming a student again, challenging myself to take an executive course in ‘Global Healthcare Innovation’ from Harvard Business School and a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of South Florida. Not satisfied with personal success alone, now I’m on a mission to help other aspiring entrepreneurs through mentoring, nurturing, raising funding, and connecting people with more possibilities.