The husband was 99 years old and the wife was in her early 80's. The husband was relatively hale and hearty while the wife was bedridden and totally alzheimic. Vallyamma and my husband were amazed to see the joviality of the husband ( I shall refer to this couple as U'ettan and k'edthi- as how my mil calls them ).
U'ettan received them with joy and announced to the house-help to cook lunch. He took them inside to meet K'edthi who had been reduced to a mere shadow of her former self. Her gaze was vacant and vallyamma had a tough time controlling her emotions as images of her former energetic times flitted before her eyes. U'ettan on the other hand sat beside his wife, holding her hands, caressing her palms talking to her as if she understood everything. He informed her of who had come to see her, talking continously, caressing her fingers all the time. They had always been a very loving couple and when I heard about their present circumstances, I could not help wondering if he did not miss his wife and companion.
Vallyamma said that U'ettan had no complaints or grievances. He expressed that he had spent a very happy life with his wife and that he was grateful he was healthy enough to look after her at this stage. He mentioned that he had not been able to take care of his mother during her last years and this was how he was making amends. He also said that he would like to leave the world only after his wife went! He consoled vallyamma who seemed visibly upset, that atleast K'edthi was in no pain physically. He said he did not feel lonely and kept himself occupied reading, keeping company to his wife. Every evening he would take the wife for a small ride in the car with the assistance of the house help and the driver. The house help and the driver too took care of the old couple in a most loving and sincere way. U'ettan said that he was lucky to have the help of these good people.
U'ettan used to be a school teacher and he has students in all strata of society who still remember him with gratitude and affection. U'ettan recounted anecdotes from his past which were inspiring and interesting.
Vallyamma and my husband who had entered U'ettan's home with mixed feelings took leave of the patriarch rejuvenated and inspired.
When I heard about this amazing person, his zest for life and the unconditional love for his wife, I wished I had been able to meet him, talk to him... to experience the positivity and liveliness of this grand old man! I would've liked to ask him to share the secret of his enthusiasm for life.