P.O. Box 41, 4000 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6S 2T7
“We all face death in the end. But on the way beware to never hurt a human heart’ Rumi
We live in times when the world faces many challenges. Politicians are selling their souls for votes, leaders and lying for popularity and we are being brainwashed to trust no one. Therefore we sometimes feel that humanity is at a loss.
On this Mothers Day I want to reflect on how we renewed our faith in humanity and found that there is indeed good in everyone. It’s been a humbling and learning experience.
My mother in law (Amma) used to live with us for many years and like any other relationship we had our ups and downs, but we tried to do what we thought was our best. Few years ago she needed full time care and went to Pakistan to her daughter’s home. Both my husband and I had twinges of guilt over time that we could have done more. It’s always in retrospect that this happens and few people are blessed enough to have second chances.
A month ago Amma became seriously ill in London U.K. and was taken to Northfield Hospital where she was in intensive care for a week and then transferred to a hospital room. Her kidneys had stopped working.
While we were shattered at this turn of events, it turns out that it was a blessing in disguise in that Amma was able to get the initial treatment that literally saved her life. She had no health coverage in UK so this was unaffordable in the long term and the only solution was to take her back to Pakistan where she wanted to be anyway.
What happened in those weeks since she was taken ill and how people, ordinary humans from across the globe, transcending all faiths and cultures, came to our help has totally been an eye opener for us. From candles being lit everyday in a Toronto church to Anna the considerate nurse at Northfield Hospital to concerned friends who reached out to us from Israel offering her health care there, everyone was caring and compassionate. None of this was about religiosity – it was only about humanity at its best.
Across three continents Amma’s children (and grandchildren) all came together in amazing ways to confer with each other on the best way to deal with the situation. But how to undertake this seemingly impossible journey? Well we decided that we would do this as a tag team with each one doing their part.
Sohail and I cleared our calendars and flew to London. Here we were met by his brother and son (who had been Amma’s caregivers for over two months) at the PIA check in desk. We were originally sceptical because PIA had a reputation of not being on time and we had a preconceived notion that they would be inefficient. Once again we were proven wrong. From the start PIA personnel went out of their way to be efficient and helpful. This is not just duty but above and beyond. The check-in clerk was very helpful getting Amma and me seats together and ensuring Sohail that he would not be seated far from us as in Ammas condition her only option was to fly Business Class with an attendant.
Then came the intricate and challenging process of getting across Heathrow Airports lengthy corridors with a patient so sick that she was nauseous the entire time and cried out in pain at every movement. I thought that the personnel would become impatient but they treated Amma with kid gloves, speaking to her gently and helping us across immigration and to the lounge. They brought us tissues and clean up gear and assured Amma she would be okay. Amma was nervous and trembling with fear on how she would be transferred to the aircraft. Truth be told so were we.
But the wheelchair handlers were gentle and firm. At one point Amma cried out “how will you take me?” and one of them said “Amma this is our job. We are trained to do this so don’t worry, we won’t hurt you”. True to their word, two of them gently lifted Amma from one wheelchair to another, wheeled her the entire way and then delicately lifted her onto the seat. By this time I was biting my nails with tension but these people made it happen.
The crew was so kind. They brought me hot towels, tissues, bags and helped me settle Amma. They waited patiently when I fed her and looked after all our needs with gentle care and understanding. And the plane left on time. We were so impressed.
At Islamabad airport the same thing happened but in a more organic way. They are not well equipped so everything had to be done manually. However the loaders and helpers were as kind and caring as they would be to their own mothers. At that end, Amma’s son-in-law had made all the arrangements and was waiting inside with a protocol officer who whisked Amma away in an ambulance to the hospital and we did not have to wait in any lines for immigration or customs.
The hospital called Shifa in Islamabad is state of the art. Clean, efficient beyond words and upto par with the latest technology. Amma’s doctor took one look at her and said “I’m not going to let you die”. The nurses and personnel once again were kind and compassionate along with being efficient. Amma who had not eaten anything for 48 hours was able to get something she liked and they made sure she was well taken care of.
This is to say that our one week trip was a mind-changing experience like no other. Not only did this renew our faith in humanity but it also gave us a chance to show our love and care for our mother. Now Amma is home and settled with her daughter and we know she is on her way to recovery because she is fighting back (in more ways than one).
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi