Not easy.

I have spent a lifetime helping others with no expectations. I have not been the centre of attention. In spite of how extroverted I appear to be, I am not comfortable being the centre of attention. I started doing the family laundry at the age of 15. I would help my mother vacuum. Wash the windows every spring. We had storm windows which meant you were washing two sets of windows. That was just the way it was.

My parents held firesides every Wednesday night. Firesides are events held in Baha’i houses where we tell non-Baha’is about the Faith. A lot of people would show up for these evenings. We would end up feeding a lot of the students, providing dinner for about 20 people. Fetneh and I had supporting roles. She would help with the cooking. We would set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes and help get things ready for the coffee/tea that would be served at the end. Mom would inevitably make her patented banana cake covered with fresh cream and more bananas. Yum.

At the end of the evening, I would end up driving a bunch of people home. Mom would insist. It was too cold. For those of you who have not experienced a Montreal winter, I suggest you go there for a vaction anytime n January or February. It will forever change your notions of what cold really is. In the days before Global Warming, we would regularly see winter temperatures of 30 below zero last through the whole winter (at those temperatures, it matters little if it is Farenheit or Celsius). And if it was not cold, it was warm enough to snow, which you had to shovel before it froze as temperatures dipped again. Montreal would average 150 inches of snow a year.

We went to Swaziland when my father died in 1999. We had to pack up his stuff. ShooShoo was there with me. We were going out to see some friends one night. I was dressed in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. The locals were horrified. You can’t go out like that, they said. I did not recall any African rites that stopped me from wearing either shorts or Hawaaian shirts. No, no, they said, too cold. It will be 10 Celsius tonight. Yeah, OK. Call me when it gets to minus 20. The guy looked at me. I thought maybe I spoke too fast, but no. He looked at me and said he cannot even imagine that sort of cold. True enough. Until you live through a Montreal winter, you have no idea what cold is. Though I am told that Winnipeg might beat Montreal.

My life has been nothing but not being the centre of attention and looking after others. I am no angel, mind. People have called me all sorts of things. I am painfully aware of my shortcomings.

Going from looking after people to being looked after is very hard. No, that’s not strong enough. Excrutiatingly hard. Having to ask Devin for a glass of water because I could not get up to get my own. To watch Leslie clean the house and not be able to help. To not be able to go shopping for food. To have to rely on someone, anyone for the least of things. Not good. And not easy to get accustomed to.I would often escape to the bedroom with the pretense of being tired.

Things have improved though. I am a lot stronger. Getting stronger on a daily basis. Vacuumed the house the other day. Went down to the basement and brought up the vacuum cleaner and did the whole house, returning the cleaner to the basement. I was tired, but it was a good tired, and I was fully prepared to pay the price. I am driving now, which means I can go shopping. I just have to be really careful to not buy too much because the bags become too heavy. Multiple trips are de rigueur. Things are improving.

The guilt that comes from not being able to do things is almost impossible to come to grips with.

The guilt that comes from receiving the love of friends and relatives is an interesting reality. There should be no guilt there. That is what friends are for. To love you in spite of your shortcomings, or maybe because of them. This journey has shown me an amazing amount of love and support form all sorts of friends and relatives, and some very unexpected sources. You cannot help that you are putting people out in some way. Yes, I know. People do not feel put out. They would not come and support me if they did not feel like it. There is little doubt that you feel the love, the unrestrained need to come and visit and talk, if no other reason than to make sure you are OK and not about to disappear down some abyss. I also realise that a lot of that support is directed at Janet and Devin.

The guilt is still there. I will deal with it. Come to terms with it. Acccept it. Dispel it.

3 Responses to “Response to Guilt”

  1. What are you talking about? What is this guilt business ?! It is just a matter of habit. You are used to giving and get annoyed because you do not know how to recieve ?! … you feel you are a burden. ?! Rubbish.
    And it is nonsense to say that they have no choice. Is it so difficult to believe that it is because of love. You are very lovable Farokh Joonam. I love you although I haven’t seen you from childhood. No need to say that your beloved ones love you far more. They do it wholeheartedly and if they feel that you just have guilt as you can not contribute in this situation , it reduces their energy. Don’t be a fool. No guilt. Embrace their love and efforts. Let them do their shares and make them happy.
    Big big hugs
    The same old Masi
    p.s. If I had not written for a while it was because there were a couple of ill people around who needed being taken care of . It was no burden and a pleasure. I got just more tired than usual. I slept and feel ok now. But I would have felt awful if I had seen embarrassment or guilt in their eyes because of me looking a bit more tired.

  2. …from one who has spent only one evening with you, 2 years ago…
    I would suggest that most of those you are speaking about come away with as much, or more, than they give.
    I knew you very little before this blog. Your are a dear friend of my sister. Now I feel so much love for you, from all that you have shared, and while I would not be so presumptuous as to claim you as a friend, you are indeed a brother.
    You are giving so much to all of us who are privileged enough to read your blog.
    Please accept the help that is offered, without guilt, and the love that comes from both near and afar.
    It gets back to loving yourself, eh? You deserve to be loved and cared for, same as you love and care for others.

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