From a very early age, I shared a special bond with my appacha. I clung to him and idolized him. He was ever-present in my life and always made me feel immensely loved. When I reflect on my childhood, most of my fondest memories have him in them. I spent almost every vacation with him and was always by his side. I prayed with him, ate with him, slept next to him, would wake up early to go with him to the hospital, watch movies with him, and so much more. We were inseparable. It would not be a stretch to say that I worshipped him during my childhood.
He had a massive influence on my life. I am proud that many of the habits and principles I hold today were instilled in me by appacha and my time with him. He is the most disciplined individual I’ve known. Every aspect of his life was clearly defined, planned, and occurred at a specific time of the day like clockwork! He would even note down the odometer readings from his car after every trip, no matter how long or short. He would take his daily earnings and split them into multiple categories: electricity, water, tithe, etc., and place them in envelopes. He even had a “Difficulty Days Fund,” and I remember his pouch to store those funds. He was meticulous about everything. And thanks to that discipline, he lived a long, good life!
He always put his faith in Christ first and let it govern every aspect of his life. I still remember him waking up and praying each morning and conducting family prayer twice daily. Once he was at the hospital, he would read the bible and daily devotionals and then make notes. He was also scrupulous about tithing. He expressed Christ’s love by serving the the needy both financially and through his God-given talents. I remember the Charity clinic that he ran at this church. He served so many patients even into his 70s. I remember many of his sermons and how he was never shy or ashamed to share his life experiences.
He was also a romantic and loved Ammachy beyond belief. I would catch them, sometimes holding hands and sharing stories. He would call her Kittamma affectionately. They were inseparable. I don’t think they have ever stayed apart, even for a day. During my time with him at the hospital, he shared stories of the two of them that Ammachy probably did not appreciate him sharing 🙂 Again, his love for Ammachy can also be tied back to his faith.
He shared his life stories during our times together at the hospital and evenings spent on the front porch. To me, his life was dramatic and far-fetched, the stuff movies are made of. How he fought for our freedom and was in prison for a while, how he came to faith in Christ and was disowned by his own family for it, his early days moving to Maharashtra throwing caution to the wind, and then his subsequent move to Changancherry – establishing his medical practice there, not knowing the language, how he raised his family, starting from nothing.
In the end, it was all possible because he always put Christ first in his life and never attributed any of his accomplishments to himself but to God’s grace alone. He always reminded me of that fact. And because of that foundational belief, he was ever- willing to share his testimonial to anyone who would listen. Most of us refrain from talking about our faith in this day and age, lest it offends people. But my appacha taught me that when faith governs you and when the love of Christ has truly touched you, it is impossible to contain it and be quiet about it. You will take advantage of every opportunity that you get to share God’s love and his plan for salvation with others. I saw Christ’s love through my Appacha.
Appacha was also a symbol of strength in my life. I don’t know many others who’ve fought cancer thrice in their 80s and lived to talk about it. He had a tenacious will to live and make the most of his God-given life. And he fought for it until the very end!
The last few days have been hard, and I want to forget how appacha had suffered in the end. Instead, I desire to cherish all the beautiful memories during our time together. Watching Bud Spencer movies, playing carroms, going together to Best Bakery to buy sweet nan and mutton puffs, the many vacations we got to spend together, and the countless gifts that he’s gifted us all, being ever-present in our lives! I particularly remember the first piano, a Casio, that he gave me. It had a massive impact on my musical journey in life. He was simply the best grandfather that anyone could ask for. We are truly blessed.
While we will all miss him, he is now in heaven, and the suffering has ended. He fought the good fight and finished his race. He would have turned 97 in February. I will cherish all these memories, and I hope to lead a life that he would be proud of. I love you and miss you, Appacha.
I wanted to end by sharing some of his own words that I hope will be inspirational to you all. He penned this after his fight with cancer:
“God has raised me from nothing. From the day I was driven out of my home and given a peaceful Godly home to live happily, he has promised me his constant presence and a better, much better heavenly home. Then why should I be sad or worried? My only prayer was this: “Let thy will be done.”